We’re Sorry We Can’t Take Your Call…
That’s a screenshot of an email I sent to Chris Guillebeau, shortly after posting my review of his new book both here and on Amazon. When I wrote it, I didn’t have any expectation of a reply. It’s the launch day! He’s wrangling twitter strategies and guest blog posts and more, trying to hit the bestseller lists. When I did get the email from him, it was brief, terse, and to-the-point: an acknowledgement of my email.
It wasn’t terribly eloquent, but that made it all the more personal – this is the email I would expect to get from someone who was insanely busy but wanted to take a few seconds to let me know he appreciated my message of support. The fact that it was there at all actually felt really personal – like this was a real guy, someone I could enjoy having coffee with in less harried times. The fact that it showed up three hours later made it feel very authentic, as if he’d come across it during a day of constant checking of messages.
On the other side of the spectrum was an email that I won’t post here. I was inquiring about a speaking opportunity at a convention run by a fairly successful presenter – someone who has big-media connections and is definitely a star-on-the-rise. At the same time, I did have something of a personal connection – we’d met back in the early days of podcasting at an LA convention, and while they were certainly far more successful, I would consider it a closer professional tie than, say, Chris Guillebeau.
At the same time, I was very aware that I would likely get no response at all – this was simply part of the numbers game, bread cast out on the waters on the off chance I’d get a nibble. But let’s face it, I’m one blog among many, a tiny voice in a crowded room, and while I believe my message is worth getting out there, I’m under no illusions as to my “fame”.
Much to my surprise, though, I got an email – a response right away. Obviously an automated response, which is fine; I’m used to them from tech support places that say “This is an automated reply to let you know we got your message and will get back to you soon.” But this wasn’t like that; no, this one started out “Hello, Lover” and proceeded to do several things:
- Assured me that my email was read;
- Promised to try to respond to it on a website or podcast;
- Meanwhile, here are a few tips that might help… (they had nothing to do with my email)
- By the way, here’s a subscription link to my newsletter!
- You also might want to buy something from my store!
- You can also use this coupon code to get something from that store!
- Did I mention there’s a newsletter? And a store? And another store? With a coupon code?
Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m all for people making money for their content. In fact, my first reaction in reading the flurry of marketing pitches was Wow, I really need to up my marketing game, I’m way too subtle.
The problem was not with the marketing – it was with the imitation of intimacy, of caring, in what was obviously a form letter. I would have preferred no response to the response I got, because that just tells me that regardless of what I actually want to talk about, I’m first and foremost a source of money.
Of course I realize that Chris Guillebeau might have simply figured that out a bit better than the other person. It’s entirely possible that a week ago he set up a timed delay for automated responses, carefully designed to be the kind of email a Very Busy But Still Have Time For You kind of man would send.
That’s fine. The moral of the story, either way, is: Don’t fake caring. Or if you do, do it well.