I’ve been monitoring the doings in Houston via the news, and via my friend John’s Facebook page. John lives in Houston, and, as of this writing (Monday evening), is still in his home, and still with power.
In addition to being a Houstonian (by way of growing up in Connecticut and living in Boston and DC), John is one of the smartest and best all-round marketers I know. He’s just incredibly versatile, and can pretty much do anything on the marketing continuum – and do it well. John is also very thoughtful.
So, even though I’m sure that John would agree with me that savvy marketers should take advantage of new opportunities as they emerge, he never, ever, ever in the whole wide world would have done something as ridiculous as send out the sort of email blast that he was on the receiving end of on Monday – the first “work” day of the unimaginable Houston flood. Here’s the email that John found in his mailbox the other day:
Our heart goes out to you and your families as we hear the stories coming out of Houston and affected areas. Thanks to organizations like the Red Cross, we are able to donate and will continue to do everything we can to help in providing emergency supplies to the affected areas.
We understand that in times of crisis, people matter and always come first, so we’ll be doing everything we can to support our fellow Texans.
From a practical perspective, we are also quickly provisioning servers here in Dallas and assisting in ERP/Cloud to help businesses get back online.
I’m not quite sure where to begin on this one, so I’ll quote the comment John himself made:
Oh for fuck's sake.
This company – and I have some idea which one it is, but John didn’t reveal so I’m not going to guess – was, by all means, perfectly justified in reaching out to the folks on their list. But combining this faux, mealy-mouth show of concern with a pitch to get your business back up ASAP just sticks in my marketing craw.
I suspect that, for those living through the horror that is Houston, few companies on Monday were worrying about how they were going to deploy their ERP on the Cloud if they hadn’t already. Most companies of a certain size (and/or inclination) have a disaster recovery/business continuity plan already in place. Whether they hae their systems in house, manage it in someone else’s data center, or are in the Cloud, or have some hybrid setup, their systems and data are backed up. Because that’s what companies of a certain size (or a certain inclination) do. And they actually may be working on getting their systems up and running, and getting essential work done. Because that’s what the DR/BC guys do – as long as they have access to their systems, and that’s what business professionals do. As long as they’re not bailing out their living rooms, making sure their kids (and their puppies) have their life jackets on, or sitting on their roofs waiting for a helicopter to ferry them to safety.
Companies that don’t have a DR/BC plan in place, that haven’t backed up their systems, that have everything in paper files that have now turned to mush. Well, they’re in trouble. But the probably have more on their minds. Like bailing out, making sure, and sitting on…And these companies likely aren’t on the email blast list of this hosting company to begin with.
Anyway, my advice to the marketers who sent out this unwelcome and fairly nitwit email is this:
Why not just go with an email or – better yet, a series of tweets – that covered these points:
- Our heart goes out…
- We’ve just made a donation to Red Cross…
- We’re doing everything we can to help our fellow Texans…
- When you’re ready, we’ll help you get back to business
I’m sure the marketing people at Company X were well intentioned, and under pressure to get something out quickly (more than likely in response to some a-hole sales manager screaming “Let’s get on this right away…”). But if there’s one thing that smart and experienced marketers like my friend John know how to do it’s stop, take a deep breath, think things through, and ask themselves how they’d like to get an email like this if their city were under siege, if their homes and maybe even their lives (and livelihoods) were in jeopardy, if they were dealing with sewage burbling out of their toilets and alligators and water moccasins swimming in the garages where their cars were sitting totaled.
But the email that John received on Monday… I couldn’t have said it better than John: Oh for fuck’s sake.
Pink Slip’s heart, of course, goes out to Houston – especially to my friends John and Rolf (and their pups). We’ve made out Red Cross donation, and even dropped some packages of diapers off at Boston City Hall for shipment down to the poor folks dealing with the disaster that is Texas. But we’re not doing anything about anyone’s ERP/Cloud systems.