3 Things that Marketers Can Learn from Message Not Received

Explain your product/service to a few teenagers. Do they understand what you're pushing?


More than my other books, I truly believe that Message Not Received offers the most widespread appeal. It is not intended exclusively for one level of the organization. Everyone from an entry-level employee all the way up to the CEO can benefit from the book. Effective communication matters at all levels of an organization. Period.

By the same token, the book transcends functions. Perhaps some of my previous efforts primarily served IT folks (The Next Wave of Technologies comes to mind), but Message Not Received is certainly different. Employees in HR, finance, R&D, sales, and other areas will benefit from its advice. And that goes double for marketers.

Here are a few points that I’ve already shared with several marketers about my forthcoming book.

People Get Way Too Much E-Mail Today. Really.

Overwhelmed by your inbox? At least you’re not alone in the deluge.

In an oft-cited study, The Radicati Group reports that employees receive and send an average of 121 business messages every day. Do the math. That means that employees are receiving e-mails about once every four minutes. And guess what? The people who make major purchasing decisions are typically more senior. That means that they receive even more e-mails than average. People are overwhelmed.

It turns out that e-mail overload is the single biggest reason that people unsubscribe from mailing lists. Yes, there is such a thing as too much communication. Of course, plenty of marketers ignore this fact. I wonder if some are paid by the e-mail.

For instance, I recently applied to be a consultant on Clarity. After successfully completing my registration, I expected a welcome e-mail and even a follow-up note a few days later, but receiving five lengthy e-mails in the first eight days was overkill. Tl;dr. I promptly unsubscribed.

Tip: Ask yourself if sending another e-mail is likely to do more harm that good. You may sign up a new customer, but will you alienate five in the process?

Not Everyone Knows What You Know

Ask yourself if sending another e-mail is likely to do more harm that good.

Your company has developed a next-generation cross-platform communications app? Congratulations. I’m sure that you and your colleagues are excited about it, but most of your prospects don’t even know what a next-generation cross-platform communications app is. Too many marketers forget the curse of knowledge. Don’t. Beyond that, remember that simplicity in language has never been more essential.

Tip: Explain your product/service to a few teenagers. Do they understand what you’re pushing? If not, revise. Repeat.

At Least Make Your Messages a Little Bit Personal

First, realize that generic language like “Dear Customer” is beyond lazy. Second, an organization should know if a prospect has previously provided a valid e-mail address. Words like if don’t exactly inspire confidence in communications. (How hard is it to validate an e-mail address?) Third, the lack of a proper pronoun can signify that the organization doesn’t really understand its users and/or customers. My name isn’t Kelly and I’ve never met a woman named Phil. It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence if a company doesn’t even know my gender or mistakes me for a female.

Tip: Don’t be creepy about it. There’s a middle ground between generic and overly personalized to the point of scary.

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