In 2023, there’s no excuse.
I attended an open house for a business referral network this week. Lots of people there, including one person who introduced himself as a marketing consultant with a goal of helping 50 businesses double their sales in 2024. Nothing wrong with that. I thought perhaps I’d give him a call. What he did next made me decide I would never work with him.
That afternoon, I received an email from him. I was pleasantly surprised, because most people who attend networking meetings and pass around business cards never follow up with people they’ve met. Then I read his message. I’m going to reproduce it below, because there are many things worth commenting on.
Maybe I’m just fussy, but this message raised a bunch of red flags.
- We never spoke to each other. I heard him introduce his business. He heard me introduce mine. Opposite sides of the table, opposite ends of the room. He and I never spoke directly, so referring to the “brief conversation” we never had feels fake.
- Looks like the email should end here, but it keeps going. A marketing consultant should know how to write a letter. This looks like it might have been copied and pasted. At the very least, less thought went into it than I would have expected.
- Again, we never had an “engaging conversation”. This feels more fake the second time around. Now it feels definitely impersonal, even though he’s implying we have some connection.
- If the end salutation is here, why is the name above? Again, this is a sign of a poorly-written message, which feels unprofessional and fake. In my mind, he has no credibility at this point.
- I never subscribed to anything. This is the biggest red flag of all. I passed my business cards around the table, so this is obviously where he got my email address. Fine – I’m okay with that. However, passing out a business card does not in any way imply consent to be subscribed to any kind of recurring communication.
As a follow up, the next day I received two automated messages from this marketer exactly four hours apart. The messages contained the same content, but two different subject lines. I thought about contacting him to ask him to remove me from his list, but I simply unsubscribed instead. However, as I thought about the situation further, I decided to write this blog post.
This is simply unacceptable behaviour from a marketer. The Canadian Anti Spam Legislation (CASL) has been in force since July 1, 2014. The related privacy regulations (PIPEDA) came into effect on April 13, 2000. Stricly speaking, this marketer has broken both CASL and PIPEDA regulations by not confirming my consent to receive his marketing messages. I know some people don’t care about this, but I do.
Furthermore, even if I didn’t care about his breaking CASL and PIPEDA regulations, the fact remains that his behaviour is still considerably annoying. One follow-up email I can understand and even appreciate (except for the fact that his was poorly-written). Being subscribed to an automated funnel-style email list without my permission and receiving TWO emails in a day is unacceptable. If I didn’t unsubscribe, I wonder how many more messages I would have received.
Do you want to work with a marketing company that disregards the laws of the land and annoys prospective customers? I don’t. Imagine what a company like this will do to your brand if they promote you the way they promote themselves. At the very least, they will annoy people. At worst, your business could get slapped with a penalty under CASL or PIPEDA. And, in all cases, your brand will be the one that loses while this marketer will simply move onto another customer.
I hope that marketer changes their ways. I hope they’re not as bad as their behaviour makes them out to be. I hope their customers’ brands don’t take too much of a hit. Doubling your sales in the short term by dubious methods can lead to a ruined reputation and disaster in the long term. I hope it’s all just a big misunderstanding.
Just remember though: hope is not a strategy.