People Are People

Posted by Matt Blumberg 

Matt Blumberg
By Matt Blumberg
CEO & Chairman

Last year on my personal blog, OnlyOnce, I wrote about the diminishing distinction between B2B marketing and B2C marketing, and how getting the right message to the right person at the right time blurs those traditional boundaries. I have a different thought on the same theme today, spurred on by Elly Trickett, who is DMNews‘ fantastic new Editor-in-Chief. Elly wrote a great editorial in the October 1 print edition of the publication that I just caught today entitled “Don’t Forget Your Consumer Side,” in which she recounted a speech she made to an audience of marketers where she asked them to come up with examples of trigger-based digital marketing they had received, and one member of the audience replied with the statement, “We’re not consumers.”


That’s just the kind of comment that gives the marketing and advertising industry a bad name, not to mention leading directly to bad practices.

When we as a profession treat the recipients of our messaging like numbers, we do bad things. We get excited about moving a 1% response rate to a 1.5% response rate (a 50% improvement!) without remembering that 98.5% of our messages fell on deaf ears from being the wrong message, to the wrong person, at the wrong time, sent in the wrong way.

When we as a profession figure out how to treat the recipients of our messaging in more of a Cluetrain Manifesto kind of way (that is to say, as humans, not as “targets,” “prospects,” “consumers,” or “users”), we do our best work. We engage our prospects and customers. We think of them as our audience, not as dollar signs walking around with bulls-eye targets on their backs. We push back when our boss asks us to crank out a rushed email message to make this quarter’s numbers look better when it goes against our better judgment.

So people are people. If you wouldn’t want to receive an advertising message that you are sending out…maybe it’s worth thinking twice about whether or not to actually send it out in the first place.

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About Matt Blumberg

Matt Blumberg founded Return Path in 1999 because he believed the world needed email to work better. Matt is passionate about enhancing the online relationship between email subscribers and marketers so that both sides of the equation benefit. It is with great pride that he has watched this initial creation grow to a company of more than 400 employees with the market leading brand, innovative products, and the email industry’s most renowned experts. Before Return Path, Matt ran marketing, product management, and the internet group for MovieFone, Inc. (later acquired by AOL). Prior to that he served as an associate with private equity firm General Atlantic Partners and was a consultant with Mercer Management Consulting. He holds a B.A. from Princeton University. You can learn much more about Matt by reading his email marketing and entrepreneurship blog Only Once – one of the first CEO blogs on the Internet. Last year he wrote a book, Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business.

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