Email needs to be as on-brand as any media channel

I can’t say for certain but when Dr Martin Luther King stood up on the 28 August 1963 in Washington DC to deliver his call for racial harmony and reveal the details of his “dream” for a better tomorrow, getting his personal finances in order was not first and foremost on his mind.

Russell Parsons

I mention this as I was forwarded an email last week from someone who had received a communication from YBS (the firm more commonly known as Yorkshire Building Society) detailing its share plans. So far, so innocuous.

However, the subject of the email carried the legend “I have a dream” and provoked recipients into analysing their own dreams, not a prompt to consider a world without racial segregation and discrimination but one where “one day you will be able to recommend a supplier that provides a share plan account manager and share plan administrator” (among other worthwhile things). The lesser known dream was outlined by YBS’s national sales manager.

There’s only two reactions I can imagine from anyone that received this email. A roll of the eyes at best, deep unease and or condemnation at worst. Either way, the message is unlikely to be chalked off as a positive experience for anyone involved.

My aim here is not to condemn those responsible. It was silly, plain and simple. Somebody, somewhere thought it an opportunity to tap into a conversation without taking a moment to think about the utter incongruity of selling share plans by referencing a speech detailing the struggle for racial equality. We all make mistakes.

What is does highlight is the danger of real-time marketing using any direct channel if the same thought that would be put in to media channels such as TV that take longer to put together and are seen for longer.

Communicating with customers and prospects using Twitter, Facebook or email offers engagement and tactical opportunities that were previously thought impossible. But they also need to be on message, in line with brand values and thoughtful.

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