Cut the crap (enterprise edition)

More than two years ago, I published a post on this blog with a not so very nice title: “Cut the crap.” In that article I fulminated against the corny, poorly designed, and –above all– unwanted canned PowerPoint Shows (appearing as PPS or PPSX attachments) that filled up my personal mailbox.

Today, I’m writing the Enterprise Edition of this indictment. Denouncing another kind of scam that hits my work inbox with an almost daily frequency. No, I’m not talking about the real spam, like the recommendations for places on the web to buy pills, the discrete sex offers from cheating housewives, the generous donations from Nigerian billionaires, the free Amazon gift cards, or the not-to-miss opportunities to acquire booming stock. There’s actually a softer kind of trash that is invading my mailbox.

As a B2B marketer, with my job title visible on the web and on social media, I am unintentionally but effectively exposing myself as an easy target for direct marketing campaigns and unsolicited mass mailings that sound like:

Hi Dave,

On your website I found out that your company provides content and video delivery network solutions.
Would you be interested in receiving a sample of our email lists? We have a comprehensive database of 42 million viewers of popular American horror films, such as:
* Assault of the Killer Bimbos
* Cannibal! The Musical
* Slime City Massacre
* Spooks Run Wild
* The Velvet Vampire

Thanks and looking forward to having a call with you.

PS: if you wish not to receive any more emails from us please reply with “leave out” in the subject line

Even if the content and the wording of the vast majority of these emails look the same to me, some of the senders seem to fail dramatically in conducting basic research on their addressees, or in personalizing their message.

  • One of my colleagues recently got an offer that was intended for somebody else. Though I’m not sure that a salutation like “Dear <firstname> <lastname>,” (with the placeholders not filled in) is a good way to avoid such naming mistakes.
  • As a potential (meuh, not really…) customer I can also confirm that phrases like “on your website I found out that …” or “we have identified you as an employee of …” don’t make a very good impression.

What I find most contradictory is the fact that all these mails are sent by people trying to convince me of the quality and the effectiveness of the address databases they sell – while the content of their message is actually telling me the opposite.


Most senders of such mass mailings get a unique – and equally impersonal – reply from me: “leave out”. Only the ones that, like in the example above, manage to attract my attention through their incompetence get an original and personalized reply from me, e.g.:

Dear Steve,

thank you very much for your email.
Unfortunately, my company doesn’t distribute any content, my name is not Dave, and I don’t like horror movies at all. As a fellow marketer, however, I’m impressed by the errors in your address database, as well as by the lack of customization and personalization of your message.
As a result, I am not interested in receiving a sample of your data, nor in having a phone call with you. May I kindly ask you to remove my address from your mailing list, and stop sending me unsolicited scams.

With regards,

Outbound marketing – even when delivered through a digital channel like email – is so 2000-ish. My dear B2B direct marketers, please cut the crap. Stop wasting your time, my mailbox space, and the internet’s bandwidth. There are lots of better ways to fill your sales funnel, and to make leads and prospects connect with your business. Consider this rant as a plea for better digital marketing. For a real data driven approach. For social selling. For decent content. For more personalization. And for an outstanding customer experience.

(Note: the email example I quoted above was fictitious, but the movie titles are too hilarious not to be true. You may consult this Wikipedia page to discover more juicy American comedy horror films…)