Hit Send, Burn a Bridge

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I got an email today from a broker at a major firm (I’ll leave all the names out, company and individuals). Here’s what it said:

Mr. Metzger,

We spoke on the phone not too long ago and I thought of you for the following event:

I’d like to invite you and a guest to a wine tasting together with (deleted for privacy)
Date: Thursday September 1st

Time: 5:30pm – 7:30pm

Location: (Deleted for privacy) Buffalo

Spots are limited.

Please RSVP by 8/26 to (deleted for privacy).
We hope to see you there.

Here the the issues I have with this email:

  • If you’re going to address me as “Mr. Something,” Mr. Albee works just fine, and it’s also accurate. I’m OK with “Doyle” as well. Mr. Metzger, however, doesn’t work, mostly because it’s not my name. Don’t get me wrong, John Metzger is a good friend and an outstanding business partner, but I’m not married to him. Really. My wife, Terri, will back me up on this (as will John).
  • This broker and I did not speak on the phone “not too long ago.” I’ve never spoken to this person. Ever.
  • If we had spoken on the phone, this person would know that I live in Boulder, Colorado. That’s roughly 1,400 miles from Buffalo (2,800 miles round trip). Don’t get me wrong — I like to drink wine, but that seems like a pretty big commitment for a couple of free glasses of vino, even with the food pairing.
  • Since we’ve never, in fact, talked on the phone (or met at all, for that matter), I’m curious how a wine tasting event made this person think of me. I might hate wine (I don’t). Bottom line: it was clear that I was being lied to from the first line of this email.
  • Finally, there was no way to unsubscribe in this email. Since we have no prior business relationship (despite claims to the contrary), senders are required by the FTC to give me a way to opt-out, per the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. So, you’re not just annoying, you’ve broken the law.

At least if this guy had to buy a 44-cent stamp (I think that’s what they cost these days) for every person he “thought of” for this event — not to mention possible costs to design, write and print a mailer — maybe he would have cleaned his list. But, email is “free” so just push the button. What the heck? I might get a customer. You know what, you might! But nothing is free in business. There’s time involved, and in this case, what’s the cost to your reputation?

Sadly, this guy might be a brilliant broker. He might have excellent taste in wine and I might learn a great deal about pairing and investing from this event. But because of the way he approached me, I now see him as a doofus I wouldn’t trust with any portion of my investment dollars. In the end, he blew his primary goal by being lazy.

Are your communications hurting you more than helping you?

Oh, and by the way, I’m busy on the 1st. Sorry I’ll miss you.

Photo credit: pboy04, Creative Commons

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