Great Content Marketing Example: Mini Team Sky

Great Content Marketing-Nigel Ravenhill

If there was a yellow jersey for great content marketing, British pro cycling team Team Sky could have displayed two prizes at its 2016 Tour de France (TDF) celebration dinner last night in Paris.

The first, of course, would have been the yellow jersey won by team leader Chris Froome. Froome, the 2013 and 2015 TDF winner, returned to the 2016 edition as the heavy favorite and comfortably won. Sky was dominant for three weeks as its carefully developed sporting plan was confidently executed on French, Andorran and Swiss roads.

The second yellow jersey would have been deservedly awarded to whomever planned and implemented Sky’s absolutely delightful “Mini Team Sky” video series. As content marketing goes, Mini Team Sky was absolutely gold. (Please excuse the mixing of sporting metaphors).

The Utility of Training Wheels

The series is comprised of seven sub-two-minute videos, featuring Sky’s top three British cyclists; Froome, Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard, along with “younger” versions played by three boys who appear to be 4-5 years-old. Sky Team Director Sir Dave Brailsford is played by an equally small version who encourages his squad to demonstrate core principles of cycling success; from equipment and the fundamentals of teamwork, to fueling and recovery. Unveiled the week before the race began, the first video has earned almost 1.4M views. It and the other videos are brilliantly executed. 

Mini Team Sky-Tour De France 2016

What is Great Content Marketing

In the content marketing world, you can’t turn around without tripping over a recommendation to create great content, fresh content and engaging content. But what is great content? TL; DR: This video series.

Education and Entertainment and Engagement

Mini Team Sky is a really great example to point to if you’re ever asked to define what is great content marketing? It educates and entertains. By incorporating unforgettably cute kids celebrating the joy of bike riding and food, it also engenders viewer engagement to generate shares and likes. This is the trifecta most content marketers shoot for, isn’t it? (At least in the context of content marketing that isn’t created for direct response purposes).

Now, will the series move the needle in terms of sales? Perhaps although it clearly wasn’t conceived for that purpose. In terms of brand reinforcement, however, it’s awesome.

Push the Creativity Envelope

I loved the Mini Team Sky project within the first 30 seconds of watching the introduction video.  The concept was great. The script and tone were on point. The production excellence was obvious. What I especially loved was the fact that this is the world of pro cycling, an industry where tradition, and a “this is how things are done” mentality have ruled for decades.

Creativity Will Set You Apart

Creativity on the marketing side of cycling team operations hasn’t exactly flourished, notwithstanding Team Sky and Orica Bike Exchange’s Backstage Pass (BSP) video series, which is now in its third year. Other than launching websites, most cycling teams are following the same marketing script teams have been using since the mid-1990s. Yet, the success of both of these video series proves that opportunities exist. Content marketers who want to stand out can by committing to being creative content marketers. If you’re a content marketer, or pay for content marketing, this should be your goal or expectation.  

Creativity Isn’t Easy

Coming up with content marketing ideas that educate and entertain aren’t easy. They also are not usually the fruits of your first deep thinking ideation session. My advice is to keep pushing beyond what you think is a great idea. Let the ideas simmer and revisit them a couple of days later. In my experience, the extra thinking time is worth it. Sky clearly got it right.

Create Content Then Market It

Distribution and promotion are key in content marketing. Too many content marketers fail to appropriately commit resources to promote their content, despite advice to invest a majority of resources in the marketing and promotion of whatever you create.

Distribution: 75X More Reach With Facebook Video than YouTube

I don’t have details on Sky’s promotion activities but what was clearly evident is that Facebook was far more effective than YouTube for promotion. Look at this chart with views as of 7/24/206 at 5:00 pm PST. The views are pulled from Sky Loves Cycling, a program Team Sky runs in parallel to its official race-centric online marketing presence.

Views: Sky Loves Cycling Social Channels

Clip Facebook YouTube
Introducing Mini Team Sky 1,361,278 106,107
Aerodynamics 632,135 3,285
Teamwork 577,655 2,302
Hydration 548,737 3,206
Recovery 92,147 1,981
Culture 312,727 3,706
Nutrition 368,762 1,821

Up until this summer, Team Sky had demonstrated its sports marketing acumen with one-off projects such as Chris Froome’s ride from the UK to France via the Eurotunnel (Chris Froome, Team Sky and Jaguar: ‘Cycling Under The Sea’).

Riding beneath the English Channel was definitely cool but not a departure from the cycling-marketing-to-existing-cyclists approach that has persisted for at least a half-century with the exception of the Lance Armstrong period.

As a marketing campaign, Mini Team Sky was different in a “Man, I’ve got to share this” kind-of-way to people who may not even own a bike. It had a virality that was a perfect accompaniment to one of the biggest sporting events on the international calendars. No question, it’s one of the great content marketing projects so far in 2016.

Chapeau to the Team Sky marketing team, and Froomey, of course for doing his adult thing pretty well, too.

Marketing During a Crisis: Toyota Takes Advantage of Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber and Safe Driving

Toyota uses 19-year-old Justin Bieber’s drunk driving arrest to promote its Safe Teen driving program.

Damn. The marketers at Toyota (or their media buying proxies) who are running their Teen Safe Driving project called TeenDrive365 are definitely not asleep at the wheel. They know how to market during a crisis.

Only hours after news of Justin Bieber’s drunk driving arrest in Miami splashed across the homepage of CNN.com, Toyota went all-in and secured all of the prime banner advertising real estate on the page.

Beside news that the Biebs had been doing some early morning Fast and Furious driving in a Lamborghini in Miami while drunk and high, there appeared multiple bright red and black banner ads promoting Toyota’s PR project to keep new/young drives alive behind the wheel.

Is this irony? Should Justin’s mother enroll him in the program? After all, Mr. Bieber is just 19 and his mother probably needs to intervene before Justin follows James Dean and Paul Walker in the annals of “young stars killed while driving fast.”

The ads link to a destination page that explains the program and will probably make most parents glad their kids aren’t driving yellow Italian supercars in their teens.

Still, ignoring Bieber’s idiotic decision to drive drunk, a much more astute decision was the decision to jump on the media frenzy around the arrest promote what seems like a worthwhile educational program.  There’s no doubt click-through rates are going to be way higher for this ad buy than usual.

Kudos to Toyota’s marketing/advertising team. (They know how to market during a crisis, especially one that isn’t theirs).

Why Marketers Should Attribute Statistical Claims

If you’re wondering whether marketers should attribute their statistical claims, you probably take random “four out of five doctors” statements at face value……..or you author them.

Is the Moon Really Made of Cheese?

Either way, the reason is credibility with your target audience. If you want to claim the moon is made of cheese, back it up with someone from NASA and someone else from the Wisconsin Cheese Board. If you can get support from both sources, you will be on your way to convincing a lot of people of the fact. A corroborating quotation from British Physicist Steven Hawking would also help.

Marketing claims-especially statistics-without attribution, corroboration or validation aren’t worth much. (I, of course, don’t have any evidence to make this claim, but trust me. OK).

True, you can do fantastically well in the short term by making stuff up. Reebox and Skechers have sold hundreds of millions of dollars selling tone-your-butt shoes, with erroneous claims later determined by the FTC to have been false and misleading. I prefer integrating a bit more honesty in the marketing work I do. (If I didn’t bear this moral hair shirt, I would have long ago sought a massively compensated communications gig with a tobacco company).

So I find a claim by a crowd-funded company called Morpher a little hard to swallow. It’s probably innocuous to most, but to this cyclist, it stood out.

<Editorial note for credibility’s sake: I ride a fair bit – bike commuting, early-morning training rides, and weekend sojourns to dessert shops. Part of my attire is a ubiquitous bike helmet. I have no problem wearing one because I crashed in 2002 and hit my head on a sidewalk. But for a blue Bell hardshell and I would have likely fractured my skull.>

Morpher and Marketing Claims

Morpher thinks it has a solution to putting more helmets on urban riders’ heads; sell a foldable helmet. I don’t buy the solution; non-foldable helmets seem to do a fine job in protecting heads, to the extent that a helmet will protect you if you hit the ground, or a bus hits you.

To support its “The Helmet for People Who Won’t Wear Current Bike Helmets” proposition, Morpher makes three statistical claims about wearing or not wearing helmets. None are attributed in any way. The one I found completely unbelievable is the assertion that “83% of bike scheme riders don’t wear a helmet due to lack of portability.”

Unattributed Marketing Claims from Morpher

Prove It

I just don’t believe it. Maybe this is true, but there is nothing to back up this statement. Show me the source. A bike helmet weighs less than a pound. I’ve worked in a lot of buildings where people commuted by bike, and nobody seem to be bothered by having to lock their helmet to their bike or carry their bike helmet to their desk.

I’m highly skeptical of the claim, and thus, skeptical of this company. Maybe I’m just in a tiny minority but I want the origin of this statement. As a prospective customer (well, not really, but you get the idea), the company needs to convince me. Instead, they seem to be stretching credulity beyond the breaking point.

Is it really that hard to understand why marketers should attribute statistical claims?

#MediaRelationsFail for Dating App Tinder

Dating App Tinder Strikes Out with Auto Download

Tinder is some of dating app. It bills itself as “real life, but better.” I guess if you’re in the dating market, you’re looking for something better than your status quo, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that life with Tinder is better than real life.

What isn’t better is the seriously dumb decision to make its press kit an auto-download.

The Tinder website is very simple; influenced no doubt from the original Dropbox website. The site design is on the far side of Spartan without many behavioral or navigation options beyond downloading the app or watching something called #itStartsHere. (I assume that’s the Tinder equivalent of those eHarmony testimonial videos of people who married sometimes after completing their eHarmony questionnaire).

On the bottom of the page are a couple of links – Press, Content, Jobs, Privacy and Terms. I clicked on Press, and it launched an auto download of some zip file. A bit stunned, I stopped the 16.5MB download. Can you say spammy?

Tinder Media Relations Fail

Ignoring the Permission in Permission Marketing

OK, I assume that the marketing girl at Tinder has never heard of the term Permission Marketing. Because permission is what you need to get before zinging someone with a digital press kit. It’s a press kit, after all; of almost zero importance to 98% of site visitors.

Media people, those most likely to click on this link, are already inundated by information and files. Figuratively pouring a bucket of Tinder corporate collateral on their heads won’t engender the warm and fuzzies and get you closer to an effusive product review. #MediaRelationsFail.

So why insist on delivering it without the recipient’s approval? Absolutely no idea.  Note to other startups; don’t stretch the goodwill of people by making assumptions on what they want. It is way easier to just post all of the media-related content on one page called “Media Center” or “Press.”

Poking Fun at Suicide and Killing Dogs: The Two Worst Ads of 2013

Advertising in 2013 had some strong campaigns and ads. And then there was the bottom of the barrel.

The worst ad of 2013 for me is……a tie.

It was so close, it was impossible to materially distinguish between really awful and truly tasteless. Both of these ads were ones for the ages in both categories. They plumbed the “what the hell were they thinking?” depths.

The Worst Ad of 2013 (Part One) – Hyundai

Hundai greenlighted a television spot in the UK that made light of suicide. A man decides to sit in his car in a closed garage. He connects the exhaust to a hose and pipes the carbon monoxide-laced fumes into the car. But death doesn’t come; only frustration, because his car is a low-emission Hyundai. Yes, that’s right, suicidal people should choose another vehicle; perhaps a non-hybrid Toyota, Ford, or BMW.

AdAge has a good summary of the ad, and its fallout. You can also watch the ad there.

There’s really nothing else to say, is there? Except one; did the following people lose their jobs?

  1. Creative lead for the agency
  2. Marketing lead for Hyundai

The Worst Ad of 2013 (Part Two) – Pearl Izumi

Pearl Izumi’s enlightened marketing department approved a print ad about killing your dog. The highly compensated marketing gurus thought it would be fun and entertaining to demonstrate the enjoyment you’d have running in their shoes to the point that your dog would fall over exhausted and expire during a bit-too-long trail run.

The print ad showed a retriever lying dead on the trail as his presumed owner kneels over him, wearing nice shiny Pearl Izumis, trying to do what looks like CPR.

(Note to other shoe brands: there are myriad other ways to suggest that your customers will run farther because they will enjoy running so much in your products. Running across a big city to meet your girlfriend for a date. Geez, that took 10 seconds to come up with).

Pearl Izumi Dead Dog Ad

Nothing says “I Love Running” like a narrative of running your dog so long it dies.

 You Get What You Pay For

I’m pretty sure Hyundai spent at least $100,000 on bringing “homage to a guy trying to kill himself” to a TV near you, and that Pearl Izumi probably dropped $10,00-$15,000 showing how you could successfully kill No-Longer-Man’s-Favorite-Friend.

What an amazing waste of time, money, resources, and goodwill. I own 3-4 pieces of Pearl Izumi clothing; I won’t be adding to the list in the future.

Marketing is like Football

Marketing is like football. (Note: this is American football I’m talking about; not FIFA football). At least, football before the spread or Air Raid offenses of Texas Tech and Oregon became so popular.

Back in the days when a game in which an NCAA quarterback passed for over 300 yards was a memorable occasion (now that threshold is 500+), there was a saying that you ran to set up the pass.

By gaining yards successfully on the ground, you forced the defense to pinch in to increase its chances of stopping the next running play. Linebackers would play closer to the defensive linemen. Safeties and corners would play shallower so they could be closer to the running backs if they were successful getting past the line of scrimmage to the level of the linebackers (the so-called second level). Once the defense begins playing closer to the line of scrimmage, it provides more space to throw the ball. That’s how a successful ground game increases the chances of success through the air.

What’s Marketing Got to Do With Football?

Instead of running to set up the pass, your marketing helps to set up sales. It’s something far too many companies overlook. Without marketing, you can sell. Sure you can. But a sales process unsupported by a marketing program will be longer, more difficult, more expensive, require more skilled sales personnel, and most likely produce far less.

Market then Sell
You can play football and hardly ever pass. Some teams try that. And you can try to sell your product, service, or app without marketing. Some companies do that. They cold call and pitch and push prospects without having invested anything in marketing. Neither scenario is optimized for success.

You need marketing to sell. You need to shape the opinions of others before you engage in one-to-one sales contact. You need a good website. You need customer testimonials. You need to demonstrate whatever you’re selling. You need to present your product to people whose problems you can solve. You need to find customers and nurture them into interested prospects (often referred to as a Marketing Qualified Lead). You need to produce sales tools for the sales force. You need to produce FAQs and reseller kits if you use a channel. All of this is marketing.

Marketing is Like Football
Good marketing makes sales so much easier. Just as an effective ground game makes passing yards easier to come-by. Those teams that pass way more than run? Well, Texas Tech has probably led the nation in passing for at least ten years and has never won anything of note.

Lead Gen Gone Wild at Tech Target

Business media publisher TechTarget is a great example of how marketers can get the wrong idea when someone opts-in to their offer. It’s a great example of Lead Gen Gone Wild.

No One Does Spam Like TechTarget
Here’s the deal. TechTarget is a pretty big online media publisher. According to its Wikipedia entry, “TechTarget.com is an online IT media related firm. It runs various online review sites, such as TechnologyGuide.com.”

It publishes a lot of niche content sites on subjects like IT security and compliance.
I registered two weeks ago at one of the Tech Target sites, because I wanted to read a compliance white paper. If you’re in business or IT marketing, you’ve probably done this dozens of times.

The White Paper is one of the most common lead generation tactics you can do in B2B marketing. The sequence for the vendor goes like this: create and promote content, promote offer, take registrations, then use email marketing (less commonly telesales) to follow-up and develop and qualify leads. The end-user experience is this: You provide your name and contact info, download some kind of PDF, and expect to receive some email follow-up.

What was different this time was the consequence of opting-in.

Lead Gen Gone Wild: Here’s the Proof
I used my Yahoo! email address when I registered. A week after downloading my white paper, this is what my in-box looked like. Can you say spam?

Tech Target Spam

Just Because Your Terms of Services Say You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should
Ten emails!

Yes, I know there are preferences and subscription options but why put the onus on the consumer to struggle under the weight and responsibility of having to uncheck a bunch of boxes I never checked in the first place. Yes, I know there’s a Terms of Service agreement I probably agreed to, but Tech Target’s lead gen team needs to understand that just because they can spam me and inundate my in-box doesn’t mean they should.

Here’s what TechTarget needs to understand about lead generation, permission marketing and email marketing. Take. It. Slowly.

Opting-in to one or two newsletters doesn’t automatically mean I’m opting into everything else your company produces in the category. Ten emails in one day? Excuse my French “but après la registration, la deluge.” I may have opted in, but I certainly didn’t do it consciously.

If you produce a lot more media, as TechTarget does, don’t take it for granted that I want to receive it.

What am I left with? Not a lot of warm and fuzzies for TechTarget. It’s been like watching a friend go on a date on a Friday with someone, fall madly for them, and smother them with attention (flowers, chocolates, texts, and Dallas Cowboy tickets) at work all day Monday.

TechTarget would be better off growing the relationship and using some data mining (open rates, for example?) to introduce me to other content, rather than giving me the digital publishing/media version of foie gras force feeding. TechTarget’s spam assault just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Why Crisis Communications Can’t Wait: Paula Deen and Ed Burkhardt

Crisis Communications Waits for no Man (or Woman)

The very recent experiences of celebrity chef Paula Deen and railway operator Ed Burkhardt illustrate why you can’t wait to implement crisis communications in our digital, 7/24 world. Both waited far too long to call in some crisis communications assistance, and are now paying the price.

Paula Deen: Celebrity Chef from the American South
In Deen’s case, her price is millions of dollars in personal income.

Until three weeks ago, she was best known for championing Southern American Cooking on three popular Food Network TV shows. For more than a decade, she’d steadily built a personal brand that combined sass, grits, butter, and homespun charm. She and her business team translated this popularity into almost $20M in earnings in 2012, thanks to her shows, multiple restaurants, and a ton of product merchandising and endorsements marketed to middle America.

Her downfall from this lofty peak has been brutally swift. The catalyst was a May court deposition that was part of a a former employee’s racial and sexual discrimination lawsuit. The plaintiff’s lawyer asked her if she had ever used the N-word. Deen admitted she had. The deposition became public. Deen remained silent while others seized and molded the narrative. It was an easy sell, given the history of White vs. Black racism in America. Completely overlooking ample proof that scandals involving race cause huge (often irrevocable) career harm, it took almost a week for Deen to try to recapture command. Way too late, the barn door was open and the horse’s tail was barely visible in the distance.

Food Network, WalMart, Target, Novo Nordisk, Home Depot, Caesars Entertainment and Smithfield Foods have all terminated business relationships with her. Eight days after her commercial downfall began, she hired Washington D.C. crisis firm Smith & Co, a contrary example to the adage that “good things come to those who wait.” Not when you’re faced with a scandal that can affect your career or business.

Ed Burkhardt: Contemporary Railroad Baron
Ed Burkhardt’s crisis situation is much more recent, and on the verge of spiraling really out of control, if he doesn’t get his PR department to dust off the CC plan. Burkhardt is the head of Rail World Inc. the parent company of the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA), which owns the train that derailed and set fire to the downtown of Lac-Megantic, a small Quebec town shortly after midnight on July 6.

Note: It would be stunning if such crisis communications plans did not exist. The derailment was Canada’s 7th runaway train incident since 2006, so it is not as if the PR department would have been planning for something unforeseeable or statistically unlikely.

Lac-Megantic Train Disaster

The train derailment in Lac-Megantic illustrates the importance of putting crisis communications plans into action sooner than later

As the MMA crew slept in a nearby motel, the 73-car train of tank cars carrying North Dakota shale oil started to move along the downhill grade of the tracks, gaining speed until cars started jumping tracks in the town center. The YouTube videos are amazing, if you can ignore the fact that the flames are incinerating dozens of bodies.

It took something like 36 hours for firefighters to extinguish the flames. It took much longer for RailWorld to realize that “maybe we should send the boss over for a visit.” (I assume they have a PR or communications department?).

The visit finally took place yesterday (Wednesday). Burkhardt showed up, and found himself in the middle of a bi-lingual lesson on profanity, the residents–quite justifiably–more than a little hostile. My question to Rail World Inc. would be, “what the hell was more important on Monday and Tuesday than Burkhardt making a public apology in person in the town that just lost its downtown and 50 citizens, friends, co-workers, and family members?” All he needed to do was show up, sincerely apologize, and explain that the accident is under investigation.

What Not to Do: Throw A Scapegoat Publicly Under the Bus
Instead, he waited four days after the crisis began, finally appeared, made strangely unsympathetic proclamations such as “I guess it’s my role to collect all this criticism,” then threw the train’s engineer under the bus (to use a transportation metaphor) by suggesting the engineer’s culpability, while also noting that the man “had a completely clear safety record up until Saturday.”

This is going sideways really fast. Even overseas, the company is losing control of the narrative. This morning, Britain’s Guardian Newspaper published an editorial, “Quebec’s Lac-Mégantic oil train disaster not just tragedy, but corporate crime.”

It’s like watching the Paula Deen scandal all over again, except with 50 fatalities, and a previously picturesque town resembling a scene in a Jerry Bruckheimer film. Lesson to all: create a crisis communications plan and implement it sooner than later.

Why Startups Need to Hire People Like Kevin Garnett

What Would Kevin Garnett Do?

Here’s the only thing you need to know about startup recruiting; you want to find people like Kevin Garnett. When you find them, hire them.

July 1 marked the beginning of the NBA’s free agency period. The courting of free agents is similar to recruiting to fill positions in a startup. Teams have specific needs. You have specific needs. While the Indiana Pacers should be looking for a new starting point guard, you might need to fill sales, business development, or mobile development positions.

If you’re responsible for startup hiring, you want your team to be comprised of as many people who channel their inner Kevin Garnett as possible. Here’s why:

A Role Model Outside of Basketball
Kevin Garnett is a role model for everyone. He’s a 6’11” power forward who’s been voted to the NBA All-Start Game 15 times! (Despite this, however, Garnett was traded last week from the Boston Celtics to the Brooklyn Nets). Here is Boston’s loss and Brooklyn’s gain:

1. He’s Really Good
This is important. Garnett has been a star since he was a high schooler in South Carolina. He combines above-average talent, work ethic, hustle, a willingness to compete for every ball, and indefatigable passion. It’s a cocktail for success.

Lesson for Startups: Hire smart people who’ll bring passion and fire.

2. He Really, Really Cares
This is more important. He doesn’t coast and he doesn’t take plays off. Boston had a very challenging 2012-2013 season, winning only one game more than it lost (41-40). There were some ugly defeats, and few athletes anywhere on the globe have more menacing scowls than Garnett’s in the fourth quarter of a blowout defeat. He really dislikes losing.

Lesson for Startups: “Go the extra mile.” It’s a cliché, but it’s also the difference between people who will live off their job titles or something they did five years earlier, and people who will get the job done now.

Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett

NBA veteran Kevin Garnett smiling in the face of adversity.

3. He Leads by Example
Until his trade, Kevin Garnett was the heart of the Boston Celtics. He leads by example, like an old-school calvary general leading the charge.

Lesson for Startups: Even if you’re hiring for a junior position, look for candidates who have a pathological need to do a great job, regardless of the task.

4. He Demands Commitment From Coworkers
There is no “i” in team. Another well-trod cliché. Probably Garnett’s biggest contribution to a team, and the reason he continues to be a valuable asset in the twilight of his Hall of Fame-career is his ability to get teammates to raise their level of play. He’s old school in the manner of New York Rangers Captain Mark Messier. Had Garnett been on the Pacers this season, there is no way that Indiana would have lost to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals. He would never have accepted the half-ass effort the Pacers demonstrated in games 5 and 7.

Lesson for Startups: Look for candidates who take responsibility for their effort, their work and their results (especially when the results aren’t great), while expecting the same of everyone else.

What Kevin Garnetts Will Do For Your Startup
This is what you need in startups. You need people who are smart (or quick enough to figure out what needs to be done), hard working, committed to success, and eager for the “as-it-happens” journey on which your company has embarked. You want people who will take the extra step, and do things that most times won’t earn them any recognition, a raise, or even an after-work beer. They’ll make a follow-up customer support call at night on their own time, they’ll ensure the api won’t choke after a future cover profile in Wired, and they’ll take ownership of success even if their equity share is well below 1%.

While the chances of success in a startup are improbable, they’re not impossible. Find people who can bring to your company what Kevin Garnett has brought to NBA courts since 1995, and your chances soar.

Happy Recruiting. (And stop crying in Boston).

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.