Spam and Marketing

“We need to get emails from everyone that we take a portrait of.” The Manager says.  “We need to be able to remind our Nonbuyers that we still have copies of their pictures for sale.”

“I get people complaining about spam from The Company.”  One of the Assembly Line Portrait Photographers says.  “What do I tell them?”

“We never send them spam!” The Manger says with slightly excessive indignity.  “We just send them promos and ads and reminds of our upcoming events.”

In other words-SPAM!

The Company has always been fond of sending out junk mail-Time for Spring Portraits!  Time for Summer Portraits!   Time for Talk Like A Pirate Day Portraits!  So it was only natural for them to move this marketing barrage over to the email front.

It’s entirely possible that the good people at the Home Office don’t think of this junk as trash with a stamp on it and that they honestly don’t consider unsolicited and unwanted emails Spam-but to the people who receive these emails-well, they are very Spamlike in nature.

Of course, the only difference between Spam and Nonspam is that you have to Opt In for Nonspam and you can always Opt Out.  Most email programs are pretty smart these days as well and will notice if you never open emails from certain senders and automatically put them in the Spam folder.

Since The Company, at least the part of it I work for, makes Church Directories, it’s a simple mistake on the Subject’s part to assume that any information gathered is for said Directory.  Most people don’t want their email in a directory because it just invites all kinds of unwanted emails.  They also don’t want to hear from The Company-they don’t want special offers, reminds that they can view their portraits online, or anything else.   But at least the reminders that they can view their portraits online has something to do with them.  Plain only Spam emails talking about how great The Company is should never, ever be sent to anyone.  I know I’m never happy to see them in my own inbox.

The Company also wants us to get Model Releases from particularly good looking families so they can use their images on flyers, signs, and websites.   One Company I worked for had a mini-model release built into the receipt that everyone had to sign.  It seems there is some rule about having some kind of release in order to put a Subject’s picture in the Book.  But this little model release went beyond that and added the usual bits about The Company having the Right to use the image in anyway they wanted.  It was always surprising how many people read all the small print and would then flatly refuse to sign the receipt.  Everyone seems to live in this fantasy word where they think they are Brad Pitt and they can’t sign a Model Release without talking to their Agent first.

Please!  Do you want to be in the Damned Book or Not?   Just sign the freakin’ receipt!  And most of them did, though some were not at all happy about it.

The Company has a number of Photo Contests and Inhouse Publications of one sort or another.  They need Released Images to put in these magazines and to put on the varied and sundry bits of advertising they have here, there, and everywhere.  There are stories about people who ran Studios for the Company that used prints from local families as wall displays-without getting Model Releases.  The families in the pictures sued and The Company had to pay up.  I’m not sure if these stories are true and I’m not sure what kind of damage a family suffered from having their portraits hanging on the wall of some Company owned studio.

You can walk up to just about any Mall Studio in America and find a book filled with portraits on display-did they get a Model Release from everyone in their three inch thick book?

I have several email accounts, as I’m sure more people now a days do.  I have an account that is primarily used for anyone that I think is going to a purveyor of Spam.  I like coupons and I occasionally get a buy one get one free meal or some other odd little doodad.  That’s why I give someone my email address, so I can get the occasional freebie.  I’m willing to put up a stream of ads from places I occasionally get a coupon from.

I’m not a customer of The Company so I have no idea what their emails look like.  But I do know that the people I shoot only use the Company about once every three or four years-maybe longer.  They have no need for an endless stream of emails talking about our latest specials or most recent updates or innovations.  I know a lot of the people do get emails-they walk in with the occasional coupon for one thing or another.

I remember a Subject who went over to the Sales Table and went through the process of picking out their Favorites.  The salesperson then said-Were you thinking of purchasing any portraits today?

“They said their wouldn’t be any pressure and here you are trying to force me into buying something!” The Subject stood up and stormed out, yelling that they didn’t have to put up with this.

Hmm.  I’m sure that person would consider any email at all from The Company to be Spam, even if it was just a message telling them that their portraits had been shipped and thanks for choosing The Company.

I’m still not sure what the correct answer is, will The Company send out Spam?  I guess it depends on how you feel about getting emails from any Corporation that wants to sell you something.  It’s only Spam if you don’t want to receive it.    You can always look for the Unsubscribe button.

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