Archive for June, 2013

The Most Unprofessional Business Email Ever

Maybe it was an error in translation?
Maybe it’s just because the organizers are Dutch?
Maybe the Dutch are just more forward about mixing professional development opportunities with sex?

I’ve no idea. But if your native language is English, you can’t help but shake your head at an email I received today for an upcoming Social Science for Startups event in Amsterdam.

After watching a really interesting webinar (featuring Science Rockstars’ Maurits Kaptein) a couple of weeks ago about persona marketing, I received a follow-email invitation this morning to come to Amsterdam and learn about behavioral change. As if learning about the latest online persuasion research and techniques was insufficient, the organizers also offered this bit of intrigue, “…let’s see if we can get some piece of ass…” (See for yourself below)

Most-Unprofessional-Business Email-Ever

Unprofessional or just inappropriate? Dutch event for IT marketers promises latest research on behavioral marketing and opportunity to get “some piece of ass.”

Huh? What the hell are they talking about? Is everyone going to hit the clubs afterwards? Are they talking about cruising Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District? How about a slumber party on a canal barge? Why not also throw in an invitation for an afternoon pot brownie picnic the next day?

This is, by a large margin, the weirdest and most unprofessional business email I’ve ever received. I don’t know if they’re being serious, funny, or just European? It reads more like a draft typed by a rising sophomore intern the morning after a half-dozen Pabst Blue Ribbons.

It is just me, or do most people like to separate their professional education and hookup opportunities? My suggestion to the organizers, Stefanos and Arjan, is to replace the “get some piece of ass” part with something more benign like “group dinner to follow.” I guarantee Arjan, you’ll get more attendance from married people whose spouses happen to read their email.

Until that edit, this remains the gold standard for most unprofessional business email.

Bad Product Marketing from Glimmer Gear a good example of bad product marketing

Bad product marketing includes failing to answer the customer’s most important question. I give you Glimmer Gear.

I’m a runner. And a cyclist. I probably own a dozen bicycle lights, and even built my own megawatt strobe tail-light. I own several bikes, lots of lycra, and buy 4-6 pairs of running shoes every year. Behavior like this gets you on’s Daily Deals email list. Last week, I flipped through Active’s latest Groupon-like email. An offer for something called LED arm sleeves caught my attention. That’s cool. Maybe useful for both running and riding? Will make it safer at night.

Bad product marketing example:

Copy and paste Glimmer Gear into Google. I’m now at, the home of “LED sports apparel.” It’s unimpressive. Circa 2004 look and feel. Left nav bar with randomly ordered tabs. Nothing that can’t be overlooked because the product seems to promise more safety. And yet…..there’s no product to see.

True, there’s a splash screen of four jpegs. I can see that the sleeves have illuminated dots on them but how well do they work? That’s a question ideally answered by a video. Can you find a video on the website below?

Bad product marketing example: a good example of bad product marketing

Product Marketing Must Answer Your Prospect’s Most Important Questions
The most important question from a cyclist or runner considering a safety product is, “Will it make riding or running safer?” There are other questions about price, battery life, availability and durability, but “yes to more safety?” tops the list by a mile. Glimmer Gear doesn’t answer it at all.

The company could answer it pretty convincingly using a video. Just 90 seconds would be enough. Probably even 60 seconds would do it.

Video Should Be in Every Product Marketer’s Toolbox
You would think this would be pretty obvious now, wouldn’t you? After all, October 30, 2013 is the 7th anniversary of the launch of the Will It Blend? marketing campaign. The series of infomercials demonstrating the Blendtec line of blenders remains one of the most successful and highly publicized online marketing campaigns.

We’re not talking a Glimmer Gear campaign, though; just a simple clip that shows me how the sleeves work at night, their visibility from afar, and how well they work in both urban and rural situations. Their testimonials don’t help, either, as almost all of them are Facebook opinions on the product idea, (“It looks cool. It caught my eye”) rather than the execution. Plus, the sleeves are somewhat pricey at $75 so I want to see them in action before ordering.

Bad Product Marketing Forgets the Consumer
Whoever is doing Glimmer’s product marketing really needs to look at their products through the eyes of the prospect. Grab a video camera, a couple of riders, go out at night, and show the riding and running communities how it will make their nighttime workouts and commutes safer. Answer our most important question. That’s all.

Then replace that above-the-fold .jpeg combination with the video. You’ll make believers out of many, and customers out of some. Remember, don’t miss opportunities to use video to showcase your product. Glimmer Gear has, and it’s losing a lot of sales as a result.