Email: A Tool, Not a Magic Wand

I was recently reading an article from BtoB’s Email Marketing Insight Guide. The article was by Mary E. Morrison and is titled, “Integration, a Powerful Tool.”

In the article, Shannon Delaney of SpunLogic is quoted as saying, “An integrated message across all channels makes a marketer’s efforts that much more powerful. If you’re a marketer looking at it from that level and you’re really trying to figure out how to leverage all of your channels to tell the same story, and really integrate what you’re trying to do, I think you’re getting a lot more punch in your message as opposed to saying, ‘I’ve got to get this e-mail out. What can I say this month?'”

I couldn’t agree more but I think that the last sentence encompasses the thinking of far too many marketers these days. Social media and “Web 2.0” have only made this thinking worse and more widespread.

Instead of saying, “We have this great message/idea/product that people will love, how do we tell them about it?” too many marketers are looking at things like e-mail, blogs, podcasts, Twitter, Facebook and the like and saying, “Wow, that’s cool. Let’s use it! Ok, what do we say?”

The problem is that many of those marketers are trying to use new tools – tools that rely heavily on quality content and strong messages to engage passionate people – and are trying to repackage their same tired product/idea/message that people have been ignoring everywhere else. Why do we think that if people are not intrigued by what we are doing in any other medium, we can just write a blog post and people will come running?

The dangerous theme that has been emerging as more corporations try to take up social media is a focus on tactics at the expense of content.

I think that people should spend far less time designing their blogs and getting the best recording equipment for their podcast and far more time on developing great content for distribution through those tools. Why do you think guys like Mitch Joel, C.C. Chapman and Seth Godin are so successful at what they do?

Because they use a specific blogging platform?

Because they have the latest, greatest condenser microphone?

Because they have the best clothes in Second Life?

No. It’s because when they speak their ideas resonate with people. They add value to the lives of their readers/listeners/friends to make people want to come back. This isn’t to say that the design and quality are unimportant. I think that design is incredibly important when it comes to marketing and communications. I just think that if you have slick design but nothing to back it up…you’re in trouble.

At the end of the day, it’s not about the tool, it’s about the person wielding that tool.

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Email: A Tool, Not a Magic Wand

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