A Misguided Email, and What We Can Learn From It

Yesterday I received this email:

Subject: COMPANY NAME Introduction Video

Let me know if you have any questions and or interest after watching the quick video.

Video here


I didn’t recognize the sender, and thought it was a company opportunity pitch (the name of the sender’s company is very similar to the name of a direct selling company.)  Since I work with many companies in the industry, and don’t plan to sign up for an individual opportunity, I replied to the email with the subject: Unsubscribe and wrote:

Please remove me from your mailing list.

Here’s what I received back from this individual:

I will remove you from everything… Including all my social media outlets. So much for the invite to connect at the last event we attended.


Why am I sharing this with you?  Because there are some lessons here that will help you with your business.

  • From the first message, without any kind of intro, I had no idea who this person was, and thought I was receiving just another spam pitch.  I met a LOT of people at the event in question.  I didn’t realize this was one of those people.  If I had a product I wanted someone to consider, and did not want to be considered spam, I would have prefaced the message with, “We met at such and such an event.  We talked about…and you asked for more information about my product.  Here’s a video that provides more information.  After you take a look, I’d love to schedule some time to talk with you.  I am available this time and that time.  Which works better for you?”  See how that leads to a personal interaction?

How this applies to you: When you reach out to new contacts, or contacts that you meet at a party or other event, do you make a point of reminding people where they met you?  You’re a lot more likely to “get in the door” if people have some context.

  • A video was dropped in my inbox, without me knowing it was coming, or choosing whether or not I had an interest.  I’m not a huge lover of video anyway.  As a “get to the point” type of learner, I much prefer a live demo where I can ask questions and get the info I need right away, rather than at the pace someone else decides in a video.

How this applies to you: Dropping a video into someone’s inbox is not a great introduction to your product or opportunity.  You are essentially requiring someone to invest 3-5 minutes in your video, when they haven’t even invested in you yet.  Most likely they’ll ignore it.  You’re better off beginning with a live, personal conversation (in person if possible, or at least on the phone.)  If you’ve got a great video to share, help them care first, and share the video as a second step.

I am sorry I offended the sender.  That’s never my intention, and I do my best.  But the fact is that I meet a lot of people, and without some context I don’t always remember everyone immediately.  I’m only human.

Use this same mindset when you meet new people through networking and other events, and be sure to provide them with the information that they need, so there isn’t any miscommunication.

What are your thoughts on this?

10 Responses to A Misguided Email, and What We Can Learn From It
  1. Benin
    January 3, 2011 | 1:41 am

    Hi Jennifer,

    You are doing the right thing by displaying the message-don’t feel bad. This is the type of thing the networkers should be educated on. And its the type of stuff that gives the industry a black eye. What’s even sadder though is that often people in the industry do this because someone in their upline trained them that way.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. John A Adkins
    January 2, 2011 | 10:19 pm

    Great Post Jennifer!

    Anyone ever read the love letters that your Grandparents sent back and forth to each other? Written word was THE form of communication not so long ago. People took the time (and words) to ensure that the meaning(s) intended were clear to the recipient. The results were often family heirlooms to be treasured and read over, and over again. In todays IM/text/email/Quick-time video world we’ve lost the ability to appreciate and convey the subtle nuiances of feelings/emotions. In that vacuum, the reader tends to “read into” the dispatch an intent that may not have even thought of by the sender. We’ve gained the ability to communicate with more people on a grander scale, but have lost the skill to do it properly. Mores the pity.

  3. Bridgett
    January 2, 2011 | 2:01 am

    “So much for the invite to connect…

    I guess we all have different interpretations of what it means “to connect.”

    “Wow” is right.

  4. Jay Leisner
    January 1, 2011 | 11:29 pm


    The original email you received is a good examples of poor communication. There was no reason given as to why you should watch the video. The sender assumed you would view the video and specifically asked you to follow-up if you had interest after watching the video.

    You had no interest in watching the video, so you requested to unsubscribe. That was perfectly reasonable.

    The reply to your request to unsubscribe was equally poor communication. The assumption was made that if you didn’t want to watch the video, you wanted nothing to do with the sender. (Wrong again).

    In all communication, one must make a convincing case for someone to take action, not assume action will be taken without a reason.

    , without first identifying the context knew who he or she was

  5. Pat Zahn
    January 1, 2011 | 3:21 pm

    Wow! Not to be cruel, but I laughed out loud (don’t like the acronym) when I read the Consultant’s response. It was just so a) presumptuous to think you’d remember her from a meeting and b) misguided to assume that your unsubscribe was from everything this she/he offered. When I get a customer asking to unsubscribe from my email list, I politely verify whether she/he would like me to remove her/him from my U.S. mail list as well. Sometimes they just don’t want to receive any more email. As a side-note, I had a flashback to a customer who was also another direct seller. I introduced her to a group of women and she treated a couple of them the same way as me. She was gung-ho to do business but then all of a sudden and w/o provocation (and I saw emails she exchanged with others) she “turned on them”. Your contact’s email reminds me of that and makes me wonder whether it is probably good that she/he will now longer stay in contact…

    • Pat Zahn
      January 1, 2011 | 3:23 pm

      proofread after the fact: “no longer stay in contact….”

  6. Cheri Semple
    January 1, 2011 | 3:10 pm

    Great post – it’s a shame the person didn’t “proofread” the email before they sent it – I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt that they would not send a generic email like that if they are in business. Secondly, it’s always good to be nice instead of burning a bridge with a snotty email response – the rule of thumb is there is always something we don’t know. Happy New Year to you!

  7. Brian Smith
    December 31, 2010 | 11:48 am

    Simple yet true. I believe the example you shared is more common than not because awareness is not made of each example. I cannot fully blame the person who sent it as I believe they sent it out of ignorance and I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt but nonetheless they have a lot to learn about direct selling. I believe Jennifer has mentioned in the past that this is a business of networking and no matter what media you use you will still need to connect on personal levels and be required to build a relationship with each person before a video will have the desired impact.
    The introduction to the email looks like a basic format from a corporate multimedia resource site but I could be wrong. If it is then the company must continue to aid their distributors with training so each use of this and other company resources have the greatest potential to impact new prospects. The company likely put a lot of money into producing this resource but it will only work as well as it is communicated and received. I know most companies are trying to help their distributors the best they can so keep up the great work and never stop improving but others do nothing more than post the resources and think that is all that needs to be done. This attitude can also be evident with distributors whether they have been trained or not. We may be excited about our opportunity, product or compensation plan but we cannot forget that others know little or nothing about it and one video or other media piece just won’t be enough to change that. It just takes time and great timing. Be patient out there because we are in a great industry. The better we all get at doing our jobs the greater the industry will become.
    Thanks Jennifer for another great post. You are always positive in your articles, careful not to pass harsh judgments and open to suggestions. Maybe the company where this video originated from will read your blog and these comments and give you a call for some guidance. It would be worth their money. Have a great New Year.

  8. Luci Anderson
    December 31, 2010 | 10:12 am

    Thanks for sharing that. As I struggle to come up with semi-personalized intros to people who I’ve met, I know I take WAY too long to contact them. I’m working on that. However, when I get a response of unsubscribing, I always make it a point to thank them and ask that they keep me in mind. I definitely do not burn any bridges. What if you were just trying to cut down on email subscriptions, but intended to use that person’s product at a later time? I think he or she effectively eliminated themselves from being your consultant.
    Another reminder to change our perspective to the customer’s view before we hit “send.”

  9. Lisa Robbin Young
    December 31, 2010 | 9:05 am

    Sadly, the basics of etiquette have been lost somewhere along the last 15 years. We’ve become such a “right now” culture that niceties like introductions and reminders have been replaced with “click here now for more info”.

    Email is a great way to (re)connect with someone, but to presume that a person is waiting around for you to say hi – like you’re the only person in the world that’s ever going to send them an email – is fool-hearty at best.

    I don’t get out as much as you, Jen, and I can’t tell you the number of people that seem to have forgotten how to introduce themselves in an email.

    But then again, internet marketing has been trying to “condition us to click” for years now. Say as little a possible in an email, and tease people enough to get them to click on your link.

    I’ve said it so many times that I feel like I’m turning blue: You train people how to treat you by what you tolerate and how you allow them to behave.

    Bravo to you for standing up to this person AND for sharing the example with the rest of the world so that people can remember what NOT to do when they’re trying to make a connection.

    And to the audience that reads this: remember that the way you first engage with others is how they will perceive you until you give them enough reason to think otherwise. How do you want to be remembered by your network, your clients, your team? Every interaction trains them on what to expect from you in the future.

    Great post, Jen!

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