The Meanness of Strangers

The link between sales and marketing is undeniable. So I think it’s time that working adults accept that their communications behavior—whether in email, on the phone or online—is a direct reflection of the brand they’re representing. And if you’re rude to me, I don’t want to do business with you—ever. I first noticed bad behavior in an email

The link between sales and marketing is undeniable. So I think it’s time that working adults accept that their communications behavior—whether in email, on the phone or online—is a direct reflection of the brand they’re representing. And if you’re rude to me, I don’t want to do business with you—ever.

I first noticed bad behavior in an email. It was from a person I didn’t know, so I didn’t feel compelled to open it or read it. And, if I did, I certainly didn’t feel that I had to acknowledge receipt by responding, even to express my disinterest in the product/service.

I guess I deleted his emails from my in-box several times, because his fifth attempt got a little contemptuous.

“I made you a pretty incredible offer on a really good video 3 or 4 times over the past
couple of months, but you never responded …” he complained, “I NEED TO HEAR BACK FROM YOU NOW.” (Yes, it was all in caps).

I admit I hit the “Delete” button without a moment’s hesitation. I resented being shouted at by this stranger. And needless to say, if I needed to produce a really good video, this would NOT be my go-to guy.

The next event was a little more irksome. I was interested in a LinkedIn Discussion Group topic on the World’s most awarded print ad. By the time I joined the discussion, 55 people had already commented before me, and the comments had turned to the relationship between ad creativity and sales. Participants were musing as to whether great creative (as defined by all the awards it won) should be considered great if it doesn’t generate sales for the product.

As an ambassador for the DMA’s Echo Awards, I chimed in that the Echo Awards celebrate the combination of strategy, creative and results. And in my book, it’s the most meaningful award because it acknowledges the difficult and creatively brilliant ways marketing folks are able to position a product in a meaningful way that drives measurable results. I thought it was a fairly innocuous comment, but apparently not.

One subscriber, who seemed to delight in posting negative comments throughout the discussion thread, turned his sights on me. “So … all other award shows worldwide are not ‘meaningful.’ Congratulations. You’ve just offended practically every award-winning creative on the planet. Good luck with that.”

While I have pretty thick skin, his slap across my face hurt—and considering my lighthearted comment, I thought he was way out of line. Looking at his LinkedIn profile, this guy was a freelancer … and certainly one I’ll avoid in the future.

But the worst offenders seem to be those that comment on blogs. It’s easy to log in and add a post to nearly every blog on the web, including this one. But why do the nastiest comments always come from those who log in anonymously? I can understand that you may disagree with me, or think my post irrelevant or incompetent. But if you don’t have anything nice to say, do you get a lot of satisfaction from adding a cranky comment anonymously?

We know that email has created a passive aggressive form of communication. After all, it’s easy to write a snide remark and hit “send” without having to confront the recipient face-to-face. The difference is, when you send me an email, I know who you are. I can pick up the phone and respond … or run into you at a conference or social event. Net-net, we can seek to resolve our differences, or at least have a civil discussion about them.

But an anonymous, negative post always strikes me as a coward’s way out. As a result, I don’t respond with a follow-up comment … and I’m always grateful when one of my readers’ leaps to my defense.

So go ahead and let me know what you think about this blog post. And don’t be afraid to let all the readers know who you are.