E-Mail Marketing is just a Tool and so is Anyone Who Oversells It

Email Marketing On The Radio

What is wearying about the current economic mess is how often a particular marketing means is oversold like an all-purpose tonic from the back of a medicine wagon. I picked up a bank’s business publication outside a supermarket branch and saw a whole article devoted to how to “Stretch Your Marketing Dollars with E-Mail Marketing.” My first reaction was shouldn’t a bank’s business publication be about banking? As a marketer, I don’t appreciate seeing banks offering advice, however well-intentioned, that gets into my arena.

Then, I read the opening to the bank’s e-mail marketing article:
“Whenever business slows, marketing budgets often are prime targets for owners and managers looking to slash spending. While it may be necessary to cut marketing costs during a downturn to protect your cash flow, it’s absolutely essential to find ways to continue to reach your customer base to market your business and generate revenue.”

How very inspirational. Especially at a time that banks are not doing enough lending to help small businesses during the downturn. Let’s remind companies that they might consider gutting their marketing budgets, so that all that is left are funds for e-mail marketing. Brilliant business strategy.

That is not to say that e-mail marketing isn’t useful, flexible, memorable (when properly executed), and highly measurable. However, it is just one tool in the marketing toolbox and an increasingly overused one. As a result, we are all dealing with newsletter fatigue, information overload, spam filtering challenges, and a much bigger problem — brand underexposure.

Too many single-minded, single-tool zealots are pushing their solo solution to the exclusion of other, perhaps more expensive but also more effective methods of creating awareness, buzz, and sales. I am really tired of hearing about the waste of traditional media, the death of print, the end of marketing as we know it.

I rest my case with Constant Contact, the best-known purveyor of e-mail marketing software. Why are they the best-known purveyor of e-mail marketing software? Because they market the hell out of themselves. Occasionally, I get a Constant Contact e-mailing encouraging me to sign up for their service. But I get the same from Lyris, Bronto, and a whole slew of others. The reason I know Constant Contact top of mind is because of their widely-run radio advertising campaign used to sell Constant Contact e-mail marketing as the most effective way to reach prospects and customers. Rich irony anyone?

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