A foreword: I am not against advertising. Advertising can inform, entertain, and drum up interest. I believe in the power of properly directed advertising. The problem with advertising, of course, is that it’s never targeted properly.
Back in the days before the rise of the internet – oh woe, how far back 10 years looks! – bands would hire street teams. Groups of rabid fans would disseminate as much info about their respective band in hopes of bringing in more fans. These street teams, of course, still exist – trying to leave any show in NYC always leads to hands full of quarter cards and freebie CDs.
However, the idea has migrated online and mutated into a new, somewhat frightening idea; organized groups of (take your pick here) “agents”, “marketdroids”, or “opinion leaders” who will try to subtly drop your product into the consciousness of the world. Up to now, my closest run-in with one of these was when Creative Commons partnered with BzzAgent, and Suw, valiant disruptor that she is, picked a fight. Eventually, CC and BzzAgent parted ways, thankfully.
In any case: I’m not against street teams, even online ones. But there’s a certain degree of finesse required, a bit of savoir-faire needed to make yourself blend in a little better into the landscape as you try to get your product out there.
Yesterday, I received an email that was, well, lacking the subtlety such a campaign requires:
From: Lauren email@example.com
To: Dan Dickinson
Date: Nov 29, 2005 7:53 PM
Subject: Spartan Total Warrior
Hi, I just found your The Warriors blog entry: http://vjarmy.com/archives/2005/10/vacation_postcard.php and I think you may be of some help to me. I’m reaching out to you on behalf of M80 & Sega regarding Spartan Total Warrior. This award-winning game is the first console title from the Total War series. Since you are a fan of The Warriors, I thought that you might be interested in posting the press release or a review of the game on your blog? You seem like a reputable influencer, so I think you’d be a big help to us. Please let me know if you’re interested!
Before I get going on what’s wrong here, let me make clear the following:
- I have not played Spartan Total Warrior.
- I have no intention on playing Spartan Total Warrior, sheerly because it’s not on the list of immediate must-have titles.
- Were someone to email me offering a product that I might be interested in and presented it in an appropriate way, I would most likely take them up on it.
- What follows should not be considered an attack on Sega or the game itself. It’s not an attack at all, merely a dissection of the tactics M80 is taking in trying to spread the message.
That said, here’s why the message failed to entice me.
Misrepresenting My Post
The referred to “Warriors blog entry” does indeed contain references to Rockstar’s recent release of The Warriors; unfortunately, it was literally three sentences:
The Warriors, while not a perfect game, is probably the most enjoyable beat-em-up I’ve played since Final Fight. I just tore through the movie tonight, and Rockstar really has got it down to an almost uncanny degree. Full review coming in the near future.
The remainder of the post was largely about my vacation. While I am all in favor of having my ass kissed about my eloquent writing prowess (including using terms like “having my ass kissed”), I also appreciate having my posts actually read, rather than skimmed.
Lose The First Person References
Look at the language: “help to me”, “I’m reaching out to you”, “I thought that you”, “help to us”. If you’re coming to me as a new contact, your reputation sits right in the middle of the neutral land. You may not have any strikes against you, but you also aren’t owed any favors. Why should I be helping you?
Yes, I am a fan of The Warriors. This makes me want to do certain things, but posting press releases isn’t one of them. Especially press releases for games that aren’t The Warriors. Especially when that game came out over a month ago.
Is That What The Kids Are Calling It These Days?
“You seem like a reputable influencer” is the weirdest, back-handed hybrid compliment/appraisal of my worth that I’ve ever gotten. If you’re trying to emphasize that I seem to have sway over other people’s opinions, could you please try not-talk-ing-like-a-ro-bot? So please, online marketing teams: just try a little harder. If you’re going to reach out to someone, take a little time to learn about them before you send that email. Give it that human touch.