I get invited to cover dozens of conferences every month. Unfortunately, I don’t have any official sponsor, and can’t afford to pay for a flight and hotel to be at each of these conferences. Sometimes I get my hopes up and register for a press pass anyway, in which case I end up on an email list just for the press attending the conference. This allows any company exhibiting at these conferences to email press asking us to stop by and say hello, which can sometimes be a great lead on a story.
Sometimes, these companies are from Seattle, and they’re happy to hear I am as well – which means we can avoid the rushed meet-and-greet and arrange for a cup of coffee back home (even if I don’t make it to the conference.) Recently, I met with a company from Seattle after they pitched once such meeting during a conference, and I did end up writing about their company on Forbes. (And as much as I’d like a few extra page views for this article, I’m going to keep all parties anonymous because the tale I’m about to tell is ugly.)
About 2 weeks after the article was published, I received this email from another part of the company – which the CEO admitted is small:
This is Joe from A Startup Who Spams People, I saw that you attended A Conference You Didn’t Actually Attend and I was hoping to connect with you regarding your company’s inbound marketing strategy.
I did some initial research of your site using Our Startup Who Spams People and have ideas to share with you on how to drive more business with SEO and social media. Specifically, I would like to do the following:
- Talk shortly about your business and business needs
- Learn how you currently drive traffic and leads to your site
- Share with you insight on how to align your content creation with basic SEO and social media best practices
- Identify “quick hit” changes you can make to your site
The goal of this call would be to share some insights and help find out if Our Startup Who Spams People will help you reach more buyers and generate more demand for your business.
Please let me know if you’re interested in a 15-minute call to cover the above points.
Obviously, there are two problems here. One, is that I obviously was press at this conference – not as a business needing to learn how to drive more traffic to my business. This reveals the second problem – this startup takes email lists and carelessly spams everyone on the list, without regard to the context of who is on the list, and flat out lies to recipients about what the startup has already done to demonstrate knowledge of each recipient’s needs. They obviously haven’t done any initial research about each email recipient and their business (because I obviously don’t have one!).
This email is classic spam. Will everyone see through it? No. But it can be very damaging if someone does and calls you out on it. As I mentioned last week, I’m not trying to be that girl - but this has definitely impacted my opinion of this company, which could hurt their chance of getting press again when it might really matter.
And who knows who else saw this email as spam – an investor might be even more offended than me. The bottom line is just don’t send spam. Send personal emails instead. It might take a little more time, but it will likely cost you less in the end.