A recent article by New York Magazine’s Kevin Roose has been circulating LinkedIn in the last week or two… and garnering quite a bit of attention. Why? For one thing, the (somewhat misleading) headline, “How Spelling Mistakes and Bad E-mail Etiquette Can Help You Get Ahead,” and image choice definitely grab your attention. Second, the article opens with an anecdote about a hot news story: the first several email exchanges between Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the 22-year-old co-founder of Snapchat, Evan Spiegel.
What interested us about the article was how the content can be applied to marketing, but let’s talk about the gist of the article first. If you haven’t heard about the controversy regarding Zuckerberg and Spiegel, here’s the deal: Toward the end of December, Forbes released their annual “30 Under 30” listing of top “world changers.” The list featured Spiegel, and Forbes included Spiegel’s account of his first round of communication with Zuckerberg in which Spiegel responded to Zuckerberg’s gushy November 2012 email about meeting with a casual response. As many know, Zuckerberg has since offered to purchase Snapchat for $3 billion… and been turned down.
A firestorm ensued, with many calling Spiegel “arrogant” for seemingly brushing off the founder of Facebook. In response, Spiegel released a screenshot of the original communication:
As you can see from the exchange above, Spiegel’s reply was short, casual and contained no hint of eagerness to meet. Did we mention the smiley emoticon and sentence fragment—to the FOUNDER OF FACEBOOK???
Now to the stance in Roose’s New York Magazine article: Roose called Spiegel’s reply “brilliant” and went on to make a case for what he calls strategic sloppiness: “If you, like Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel, want to show a powerful person that you’re important enough to be feared and respected, you might want to try playing fast and loose with your communication from time to time. If pulled off correctly, strategic sloppiness can be a great playing-field leveler.”
Of course, Roose’s article included some caveats, but what we are most interested in is how strategic sloppiness can be applied to marketing. Let’s face it—we’re all barraged with marketing messages every day. Most are carefully crafted, yet the vast majority are tuned out or ignored. The marketing messages that get noticed stand out from the pack in some way.
So how can you make your marketing stand out? The messages must be personal, conversational and have a little edge. By “edge,” we mean you might consider making popular references, slang, sentence fragments, humor, etc. Just think about it: What email would you most likely open? The one with a subject line of “Tips for Effective Marketing,” or the one with a subject line of “3 Simple Steps to Skyrocket Your Biz”? I know which one I would open.
Keep in mind, there’s still a lot to be said for proper spelling and grammar, but don’t be afraid to push the envelope a little—your prospects will thank you!
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So what do you think? Do you agree that strategic sloppiness can actually work to your advantage? What’s an example of how it’s either caught your attention or worked for you!