Sunday, June 29, 2008

Anatomy of Auto-Reply: A Prime Marketing Moment

In an automated world, where so much is standardized and sanitized, it’s such a refreshing thing to see creativity jutting out of the most unexpected places.

Take the auto-reply process with emails. You know—those things that people create when they think folks can’t bear to be without a response in the next 7.3 seconds? Well, maybe 7.3 days is more like it.

Anyway, here, via the auto-reply vehicle, is a chance to demonstrate your individuality…elicit a laugh…just plain brighten someone’s day with a few well-chosen words.

What’s more, because of the auto-reply’s rapid-fire response nature, while you are sunning in Miami, hiking in the Andes or simply catching up on laundry, you are virtually guaranteed to capture more attention than usual with whatever it is that you have to say.

In this crazy world with messages zinging all around us, opportunities for slicing through the clutter don’t get much better.

But instead of seizing the moment, it seems as if just about every automated response in the world has been screened, scrubbed and sanitized by the International Council on Dreadfully Serious Messages, Which Shall Occasionally Include An Inexplicable Typo or Two.

Here’s a composite of every auto-reply I’ve ever gotten:

“Thaks for your email. I’l be out till July 10. If this message is urgent, please call my assistant, Bobby Dandridge, at 888-713-6589…”

Blah, blah, blah. I mean, what gives? Isn’t there a more fun, creative way of communicating? You don’t need to be in PR or marketing to benefit from coming across as a distinct, engaging and memorable human being.

And if you still need to note your mobile phone number, your backup email address and your 4th grade teacher’s name, go ahead. Just jazz it up a little, fool us so that we won’t suspect that you were frantically dashing to catch a plane to Wichita when you set up your auto-reply.

All of which is a rather lengthy way of introducing this fact:

I won’t be posting another blog until Thursday, July 3rd. Try to survive somehow.

I am going on a family vacation through Wednesday evening, and just established an auto-reply to incoming e-mails so folks aren’t wondering if I dropped off the face of the Earth when I don’t reply as swiftly as usual.

Maybe my auto-reply is what brought you to this post. If so, check out the archives and keep coming back! But if not, and you want to see whether I’m practicing what I’m preaching, drop me an email (before July 3rd) at

Bonus points if you tell me your 4th grade teacher’s name.

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