The Secret Marketer: Demand for immediate response may not be the best way forward

Secret Marketer

I have been out and about this week, visiting one of our offices in the north as well as speaking at a conference on how a company’s values drive sales performance.

On my return to the office, more than 1,000 emails were lurking in my inbox, which has left me playing catch-up for the rest of the week.
How did we operate in the good old days of Web 0.0? As I recall, we used to do that thing called “talking to people”, which is now a long forgotten skill. However, were we really less productive without emails or BlackBerrys?

While I am uncomfortable with the way email is overused, it could be a case of better the devil you know

I would argue the opposite. I spend most of the time that I am not in meetings tackling emails. Is this productive? I am paid to be creative and strategic. To analyse, think and make profound statements about the future direction of my organisation, not deal with the latest great data-list offer (yes, Patricia the spammer is still contacting me, despite my daily requests to unsubscribe from her guaranteed opted-in lists) or even the numerous “further to our telephone conversation” emails from my colleagues, that really do not need to be sent.

And this is my point. If we could not speak to someone in the Web 0.0 era, we would write them a note, which we would put in the internal mail and it would arrive 24 hours later. We would expect them to take a couple of days thinking about what we had asked before returning it via the same internal mail. All in all, we would expect a one-week turnaround, and would plan on that basis.

In the current world, we send an email and allow 24 hours before we start chasing for a response.

My big concern is: where are we going with all this? Everyone is saying that “social” will replace email, even in the workplace. I now have access to Instant Messenger and something called Chatter, which is in your face and sets an expectation for an immediate response.

While I am uncomfortable with the way email is overused, it could be a case of better the devil you know, rather than have my screen constantly flashing with demands for immediate responses to this and that.

Is this really the future we have to look forward to? My thoughts flash to the classic 1968 film Planet of the Apes and the scene where Charlton Heston walks along a shoreline and discovers the charred remnants of the Statue of Liberty.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here