Short Emails

I write short emails. Usually no more than five sentences, often fewer. The sentences tend to be truncated in their own right.

Sometimes people complain to me that I write short emails, and they don’t know what I am thinking. I don’t care, I keep them short.

Why write short emails?

Shakespeare once said, “brevity is the soul of wit.” For me, it’s the essence of sanity.

Conversely, Mark Twain said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” He must have had more time and patience than me.

Here are a few reasons why:


The first and most important reason for short emails is efficiency. The amount of emails I receive are insane (yes, I am not alone). Because I am an inbox zero guy, I do scan every email; however, I do not read them all, nor do I respond to a vast majority.

Responses tend to be short communications that expedite a project, acknowledge someone, or provide an answer. In essence, email is about workflow. I choose not to invest hours every day answering email.


This might surprise you, but some people read into emails too much. I know, who needs a soap opera? When you have short emails, it’s really hard to press the ignite button.

Make sure to say please and thank you. Most people realize you’re not being short to be a jerk, you just wrote a brief email. And when you have two back and forths, pick up the phone or walk across the hall and talk to each other.


Then there is the forwarding factor. Frankly, we all know people forward emails. And we have all received these emails of angst.

Even last year I had a trusted business partner who forwarded my emails to his/her social media friends and staff, complaining about and analyzing the messages. Once I figured out that our correspondence was the source of backstabbing and reputation sabotage, trust dissolved.

I became very brief. With no fuel to add to the fire, a calmer (and much less frequent) correspondence developed. And yes, eventually I did end my business with said person.

I know several executives who request that recipients ask for permission to share email as part of their signature. You can see why. I’d rather be mindful about what I say, and assume that anything and everything might be forwarded.

That being said, sometimes a long email is necessary, and knowing when to do that is important. I don’t over think those emails, but clearly they require more thought than a simple workflow correspondence.

How do you approach email?

Featured image by Pascual Lopez.

Instapocalypse and the Permission War

Image by tres.jolie

How’s your Instagram account treating you now? Feel better now that Instagram restored some of its original terms of service, and recommitted to observing permission marketing norms with photos?

It seems like every four or five months we experience some outrageous Internet drama where tech and marketing bloggers declare the death of a brand.

Instagram, Chick-fil-a, Netflix, Walmart, etc. have all been condemned for some egregious act of anti-socialness. And then of course, the brands don’t die, and in most cases correct the wrong, recover, and prosper. In the case of Netflix, they are making more money than ever before.

Yet the “Instapocalypse” was different. Like other faux deaths, the network’s daily user losses seem to be negligible, but Instagram conceded promptly to its users, and retracted its intellectual terms that harnessed users’ photos for commercial purposes.

Instagram users won a larger mobile battle in the Permission Marketing War.

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No Respect for Train Wrecks

The train wreck scene in Super 8 captivates you with its sheer level of destruction, power and unbridled fear. The scene is an awesome spectacle of sheer force and damage, one that you replay a couple of times to see which parts you missed. That doesn’t mean you want to hang out by the tracks for the next scheduled train wreck.

Yet isn’t that how some online personalities act online?

Image by Grand Canyon NPS

A continuous train wreck of blog posts and social media updates detailing questionable acts and bad decisions definitely commands attention. Affairs, drunken debacles, bad business decisions, on and on. Kim Kardashian or Ozzy Osbourne imitations, the reality blogging is quite stunning. If the bumbling stumbling jalopy of voices keep it going for long enough, they may even command a significant online following. And why not? It’s entertaining (at least to some)!

However, garnering attention through a series of mishaps does not make a great marketer. On the contrary, it is simply a text version of reality TV.

Yet in the world of social media we like to anoint heroes based on follower counts and subscribership, one of the primary reasons why ROI is an elusive pursuit for many online practitioners.

In the end, cheap attention getting tactics don’t earn transactions. And that’s apparent when you look at data that examines conversion per follower with these folks. One chap boasts hundreds of thousands of followers, but can’t even raise $2000 in an online fundraiser.

The lesson: Discerning buyers don’t respect train wrecks. Neither should you.