The Future of E-Mail Marketing

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The Anti-SPAM movement has, in the interests of purging inboxes of unsolicited junk mail, begun to strangle one of the best avenues of marketing and business development available to legitimate and reputable businesses today.

Like dolphins in a fishing net, marketing directors and sales directors from all types of industry and commerce are being caught in the filters set up to weed out pornography and Viagra ads. What's worse-many filters consider them one in the same if they dare to send an introductory e-mail to a potential prospect. When did using e-mail for valid sales and marketing purposes become so reprehensible?

Early in my career, as a Motorola field sales representative, I made countless unsolicited cold calls to offices and hotels in different metro areas of the United States. I have also initiated hundreds of thousands of phone calls to potential clients over the years. In all that time I have never seen people respond as irrationally as when they receive an introductory e-mail from another company.

Before you throw me into the TOP 10 Worst SPAM offenders list, pause for a moment and consider your own sales and marketing efforts. How do small businesses grow? How do you acquire new clients? When did it become morally and legally wrong to reach out and open the lines of communication with a potential customer by electronic mail? There is a logical premise beneath this: All SPAM is e-mail, but not all e-mail is SPAM.

That said, there are rules and discretions that should be followed when introducing oneself via e-mail, just as there are when calling on potential customers by telephone or in person. If the prospect responds by saying they are not interested, that's what they mean--don't bother them again. The Golden Rule applies in sales and marketing just as it does elsewhere.

I don't want my inbox flooded with ads for male enhancements and supplements any more than anyone else, and the efforts we have made collectively to curb this issue have been substantial. Please be aware, however, that we may be cutting off our own ability to market to each other in a business to business environment.

If we don't take the time to differentiate the substance of an e-mail message, take a phone call, or occasionally listen to a salesperson who stops by our lobby, then we might as well beef up the ad budget and start bidding for the top positions on every major search engine, because other than referrals, that may be the only way to get new customers.

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