Unable to read, follow-up, or reply to the dozens of emails sent to him every week, the CEO created the standard reply (excerpts posted below) to prevent unsolicited follow-up emails and to try to provide some meaningful answers to the recipient.

Much like how TIVO has created a generation of consumers able to block advertising messages, other tools such as email filters and caller ID have created a generation of CEOs able to block out sales noise. Not wanting to ignore the messages that barraged him daily, the Fortune 500 CEO crafted a response which would spurn almost any vendor’s advances. The email was a little long, so I included just the highlights below:

The CEO Explains the Need for His Email Reply

“Please understand that I get dozens of these types of messages a week.  I simply do not have time to read them, dig into them, follow-up on them, or reply to them.  The most effective solution to this problem is for me to ignore the messages, which is what I usually do.  This, however, is unsatisfactory for you because you never hear back, and possibly unsatisfactory for me if indeed your product would be attractive.  So I have my email system send this reply back to let you know that your message was received.”

He Lists Several Ineffective Outbound Marketing Tactics

 “Similarly, I find the following things difficult to deal with, so please:

-    Do not send endless follow-ups.
-    Do not reach out to many of us on the team.
-    Do not try connect to me on some social networking site.  I get too many of those requests too.
-    Do not subscribe me to your newsletter.  (This will eventually get all email from your company blocked; sorry.)
-    Do not include attachments.
-    Do not embed HTML that contacts your website.”

Some of you might be thinking, “Wait, is connecting to influential individuals on a social network considered be an ineffective Inbound Marketing strategy?” That depends. Trying to connect to someone who has not solicited your friendship/connection can be just as interruptive as cold calling someone. You want to create content that draws influential people to you on social networks. Therefore, I can understand if this particular CEO finds endless friendship requests to be annoying.

Remember, social networking sites have different intimacy levels. On Twitter, someone can follow me, but I don’t necessarily have to follow them back. I assume that this CEO must be talking about a social networking site like LinkedIN or Facebook where adding someone as a friend requires a second step or action from the recipient.

His Advice: Use Inbound Marketing To Get Found Online

“Finally, a small comment.  As a customer, I find this type of approach to sales to be largely annoying to me and unproductive for you.  We learn far more about what we want to purchase by searching the web, looking for customer references in blogs and forums, word of mouth, and by finding white papers on your site that concretely describe solutions to problems we are having.
I apologize that I cannot be more responsive.   I do hope that this message is more helpful than no response at all.  Let me reiterate that this response has nothing to do with you or your company in particular, but is simply the only way I have to deal with the volume of requests other than to ignore them all.
Thank you for your understanding.”

As we draw closer to Thanksgiving, I can’t help but be thankful for the power of Inbound Marketing.  It’s so powerful a CEO of a Fortune 500 company (who is constantly blocking out messages that interrupt his work life) recommends it as the best way to grab his attention.  Online search, blogging and social media have profoundly altered the way business deals are done. Are your methods in touch with this new marketing reality?

Let this email be a friendly reminder to all of us that creating meaningful content such as whitepapers, webinars, and blog posts that “concretely describe solutions to problems” is a much more effective way to get found by your customers than sending an unsolicited sales message via email.

photo by avantard

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Originally published Nov 24, 2009 3:44:00 PM, updated July 28 2017


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