Fake (or mistaken) Email Insider Summit VIP invite meets a not so squishy ego

I made a note to myself to go around the blogs today seeing what people had to say about the “I would like you to be our guest for the 2006 Email Insider Summit” all-expenses-paid (even airfare) email sent out by Mediapost on Monday. And it’s interesting to me how many people (some probably legitimately) thought, “Wow, yippee”, even felt a bit squishy about being asked, and responded to their invite only to find out the email was sent out by mistake. Deflation of ego follows. But then, as noted, some of these people had legitimate reason to believe they were being honored with a special VIP invite.

Me? I got said email as well. Of course, I have a headstart in that I know I’ve absolutely no business getting such an email unless someone really fucked up. My ego also isn’t very squishy. I’ve got one but it’s doggedly determined to maintain a state of deflation as a matter of course. And I’ve also got a big dose of rock-flipping skeptic in me, which meets my cynicism and fizzes madly like several packets of Pop Rocks dumped in Coca-Cola. (Burp.) Still, curious, I checked out the price of the summit, which is like two and a half grand. I looked at the resort and yeah said resort looked mighty nice. The pictures were purty.

You could smell the chlorine dappling the conference carpet.

I knew this was all a mistake but I allowed myself the fantasy, for about two seconds total, of what it would be like to stay in the fancy resort, attend three obligatory breakfasts, and run off to visit Arizona relatives. The fantasy was only permitted that two second trial because I was not just confident it was a mistake or a profile-upping fake-out, but that if I did indeed show up for such an event the red lights would go off the minute I walked through the door and they’d usher my obviously-out-of-place body out onto the sidewalk.

I told Marty about it. “Hey, look at what I got in my email.”

Marty said, “What the hell, give it a try. They sent you an invite.”

I replied, “No, it’s going to turn out not to be for real. And even if it isn’t somehow a mistake, hey, this is about email marketing, you think I’m going to trust folks hosting an email summit? Even if it’s not a mistaken invite, it’s not for real.”

Then I checked out blogworld to see if this was being written about yet, who else was going, “What is this?!” But nothing was in Google or Technorati yet. Today I checked and found that posts were popping up all over on the receipt of the VIP invite that turned out to be a mistake. Apparently Mediapost followed up with an email saying it was a mistake and giving info on the event (I didn’t receive one). Or with those who responded to the RSVP they sent the email informing of the mistake, that it was intended to go out to only 50 top industry people who’d already accepted the invite/conditions, but you could still come for the price of two and a half grand.

People are saying, “Big mistake!”

Maybe. Hell, it’s a “summit” for email marketers and I’m not so sure the mistaken invite was a mistake. I’m thinking it’s possibly a way of raising the profile of the summit and putting it in the minds of many.

“I could’ve been….!”

How many people were out there envisioning themselves taking in the Arizona twilight at the nice resort?

Kind-of-negative publicity is still publicity. I’m wondering how many people think now they should possibly attend if only because resort and Arizona sunsets are now coupled with email summit Pavlovian-wise, and the Arizona sunsets sound awfully good, and the smell of chlorine dappled conference carpet a bit heady.


Oh, yeah. And MediaPost also recently sent out a “Best of the Worst” article on how it’s difficult to cover up errors made in email marketing text, while with a website you’ve got an opportunity to correct your mistakes before people visit…or too many people visit.

Mistakes are a fact of life in this channel, and there is no recourse once the e-mail has left your servers. You can potentially change the source images if they contain the error (Circuit City could have done that), but 95 percent of the time you are dead in the water when an error occurs.

So how should you react when it happens? Here are a few recommendations:

Assign a disaster team, sort of like FEMA. The team should convene immediately to discuss the error and outline potential courses of action. One member of the team will communicate internally about the expected fallout (opt-outs, complaints, replies). Don’t wait until your vice president, who is seeded on the list, sends a note down the chain. Have your answers ready.

Minimize impact.

That email went out on April 10th.

Received that in the AM, I think. Received the VIP invite later in the day. It was a long and grueling day so I felt like several days had passed inbetween. Still, a few stray words of the article remained in my brain and I thought, “Didn’t they send out that article on email errors a couple of days ago?”

Funny timing. Could be crazy coincidence. But with marketers I figure who knows, maybe not coincidence. And though I do read Mediapost (this proves it, right?) if something appears to not make sense, maybe it makes ultimate sense to the marketer, and they are marketing a conference here. An expensive email marketing world conference.

By the way, checking my email to find the Mediapost link to the “Best of the Worst” article, I found in my trash that Mediapost had sent me the “you are not actually invited” email. But that one I’d neglected to see. Why? Because after receiving the VIP invite which was obviously a mistake or oops-kind-of-mistake-but-got-your-attention, my eyes went blind to Mediapost. The next one from them that came through the email got tuned out promptly and dumped in the trash.

But here I am talking about them today…

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

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