Blog Cover Image 1

Who's the douchebag? Is this a marketing disaster?

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 3/14/14 11:20 AM

Pardon my language, but it is about to get worse, so I might as well warn you now. If you are easily offended, don't keep reading. In fact, you may want to unsubscribe from this blog.

Hopefully you will laugh, I sure did. 

I debated whether or not to share the following thoughts, and my fellow Inbound Networkers told me not to waste my time. But I feel like there are multiple lessons to be shared and learned. And if not, then maybe someone else will at least get a laugh.

Last month I sent out the last Mahoney Internet Marketing email to my list of subscribers. (Thanks to everyone who replied). In case you were unaware, I merged MiM with a firm in Portland, ME called 19 Oaks. Here is the email that I sent: 

Hi < First Name>,

I know, it has been a really long time since I wrote to you. It's not without reason, but that's not an excuse is it? A lot has happened since my last update.

Here is what I have been up to:

  • I am still writing the Ingagements book. It's a work in progress. If you'd like to be on the list of people who sees the outline first, reply and let me know! I'll admit, I have struggled with it, been daunted by it and am starting to realize that I am probably overthinking it. "What other people think of you is none of your damn business." (Who said that?) Anyway, here is the gist. Ingagements is about one entrepreneur's love affair (me) with business. Call it a memoir, or a journal, but what I don't want is to put another one of those business books out there that doesn't tell the real story. And the only real story I know I can tell is my own. 
  • Mahoney Internet Marketing is no more. This has been the plan for a while now, but wasn't sure of the next step. I found it when I decided to merge with 19 Oaks. Why? "It marks a big step in your development when you realize that other people can help you do a better job than you can do alone."- A Carnegie 
  • I'll be "rebranding" and relaunching the website within the next 60 days. That means there will a logo contest! It's just going to be, and it's just going to be me, being me.

This is the last email you will get from me as Mahoney Internet Marketing. If you want to take the next steps with me, check out the 19 Oaks blog, or subscribe to our newsletter there. 

At the bottom I invited everyone to the next HUGME (Hubspot User Group Maine). It was around Valentine's Day, so we used the hashtag #lovefest to promote the event and celebrate the merger. Like I said, I got plenty of replies of congratulations and looking forward to the event, the book, or my just seeing my latest antics. Then I got this reply about 2 weeks later:

"Who the heck are you, I'm married and find you to be appalling for you to ask me to come meet you for live fest. Maybe you book should be about a whore, tramp, slut or skank to hit on a married man. I love my wife and you are pure trash. Do not reply to this as you may know I am a lawyer and know the law quite well."

Say what? My first reaction was shock, did the email really come across that way? Then I laughed- this guy is nuts! Was he drunk when he wrote this? (I hope not, he sent it at 7:30 am). When I told a few people about it, the reaction was - "What a douchebag!" 

The irony of this is that that just a few days before this email, I sat down with a client and they asked me why I was struggling with the book- what was I afraid of? When I first started the process, my fear was that people would think it was stupid. So I talked to a lot of people about it. If they thought it was stupid, they didn't say it to my face. So as I sat across from my client, I realized that my fear wasn't a bad reaction- it was having no reaction. Because with no reaction it would just be a waste of time. The reason for writing it isn't just to share my story and lessons learned, but to get people to pause and think and hopefully make an impact on their story. 

A Marketer's Nightmare?

So back to my lawyer friend. You might ask, but is this guy the real douchebag? What about the person who sent the email to the person who clearly didn't want it? Does that make me the marketing douchebag? I was always strict on who I put on my list- I have either met them or they opted in themselves. But as the email said, it has been a while. So I met this guy somewhere, at a speaking or networking event. Needless to say he has been deleted off of every list I can find. But could this have been prevented? If you were a marketer, would you be freaking out at that email?

A tiny part of me did, and so I wonder about that. In an age of personalization, are we trying so hard to create the ideal experience for others, that we forget who we are? Should we just let our freak flag fly, and if they don't like it, oh well? It wouldn't have worked out anyway...

bossy grrl resized 600

Image credit: Colombus Underground (adding to my places to visit!)


Then there is a new movement among women today to ban bossy. Ban Bossy is a campaign gaining headlines among feminist movements to empower women and instill confidence in them so that they rise to leadership positions and make the world a better place. I see what they are trying to do, and kudos. But I am not sure I agree with how they are doing it. Maybe it will help, but it is not the solution.

It's a word, and words only have as much power as people give to them. Ever had a teenager you tried to ban from something? What was the natural reaction? Do it more? Exactly. Stop focusing on a word, focus on the individuals who will embrace it, own it and redefine it.

Have I been called bossy? Umm, yeah. Daily. And as you can see, I've been called a hell of a lot worse. 

What names have you been called? How have you allowed those names to change how you think? Is that good, or bad? Where as it helped you, or hurt you?

In this personalized and connected age, where do we draw the lines? People don't want to buy from brands or companies, they want to buy from people they can trust. And so as business owners and leaders, we must make our cultures, offerings, processes and procedures tied to the success that customers get- on a professional and a personal level. 

But as an entrepreneur, how do you not take it personally when it doesn't work out? When your marketing message is met with disdain, or worse- met with silence, what do you do next? 

Topics: marketing, permission-based email marketing, HUG ME