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December 05, 2007

E-mail taglines & employee self-expression

Interesting post on ASAE & The Center's Marketing Section Listserv yesterday:

We have told our staff that they cannot add religious or political messages to their e-mail signatures. Some staff members want to add the following tag line to their e-mails: Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail (it has a little world symbol that doesn't [sic] show up too) I don't want to be a kill joy, as after all, who's not in favor of the environment, but I don't want to have to start adjudicating what's okay and what isn't and have different staff members with different messages. Any thoughts?
Predictably, and almost universally, the branding consultants came out against it. They say allowing staff to append quotes to the end of emails dilutes the brand, harms the brand, or has no effect on the brand. Instead, they say, standardize the signature block and use it to promote association services. I don't disagree with this advice, but here's where I deviate from the conventional wisdom espoused so far.

At VAR, we've taken a different approach. We recognize that those tag lines are an opportunity for staff self-expression. Over the years, I've found that allowing, even encouraging, staff self-expression is a simple yet very empowering thing to do. So we allow staff to add a favorite quote to their emails in addition to the standard tag line. This also helps show members that our staff are real people with real personalities, and reduces the nameless, faceless stigma attached to associations. Finally, it sends a message to your staff that you trust them inherently: that you manage to the exception, not impose rules on the majority who have common sense.

I personally like this both/and approach a lot, as opposed to the either/or approach. I guess you could say that's just how I roll as a manager. I'm attaching a sample tag line below.

By the way, if for some reason you really want to hard-code your email tag lines, you should look at a service like Lettermark that appends some feature-rich content to the bottom of email.

Tagged: ; ; ;

3 comments:

Dennis said...

Ben-
My recommendation is to keep the tagline simple. Some email spam filters seem to look for appended images and an excessive number of links. As a result you run the risk of getting your email "bounced" if the spam filter doesn't like your signature or tag line.
- Dennis McDonald
- http://www.ddmcd.com

Dana said...

Ben:
Excellent point! You probed me to think about this issue a little more deeply and I responded to you on my blog: http://m-2-m.typepad.com/m2m/2007/12/branding-in-the.html

-D Theus
Magus Consulting
dtheus (at) magusconsulting (dot) com

Tony Rossell said...

Ben -- Great post. I agree with your point of view. Your staff is already sending out an email with a message that they composed. If you trust them to do that, how can you not trust them to add a quote. Tony