If you’ve ever taken a test drive, downloaded collateral that requires an email address, registered for a webinar, or started the registration process at MyFax.com you have probably received an email from me. In response, I get on average 2 emails a day asking me if I'm a real person. This works out to about 10 a week (I don't work weekends) or approximately 400 a year. That’s 400 times a year that my being is called into question.
Coming up with this number has lead to a slew of questions. First, I wonder if it is some how damaging to my psyche to have my existence constantly challenged. Like Tinkerbell, does every doubt make me a little less real? Am I going to need everyone to clap and repeat "I believe in Marketing Communication Specialists" so I don't fade away all together? How would I even go about setting that up in my weakened state? Tink had Peter, maybe I should line up someone in Sales to help me out?
Continuing down this path, I became curious as to how often the average non-marketing person is asked this question. I took a little poll here at the office and the most frequent answer I received was a strange look followed by "never". Mmm, maybe I should have provided some background instead of just “Do people ask if you’re real a lot”? It’s possible my data is flawed.
My research does show this issue seems to be relegated to email. I've never left a voice mail for someone, had them phone me back, and begin the conversation (or message) with "Hi, I'm not sure if you're a real person, but you left me a voicemail". Is there something about email itself that makes people less likely to believe in you? (Sounds like a separate project, if anyone would like to look into it I’d love to hear what you find out.)
Here’s where it becomes really bizarre. Every single time I reply to these emails I find myself re-reading what I’ve written trying to make sure I in no way sound like an auto reply. This is no easy feat, with personalization so rampant it's easy to merge people's names, companies, even problems into an automated message. And these are business emails so I can't be too casual, I can't make spelling mistakes, or jokes to make my reply more realistic. So now I’m not just replying to an email asking if I’m real, I’m agonizing over my response trying to make sure what I write actually proves my reality. That’s a lot of pressure!
I was going to write about the flip side of this issue and look at why people email me when they have doubts about my being real. Are they optimists? Dreamers? Bored? On some level trying to prove their own existence? But I’m going to have to save that until next time because this has left me in need of a reality check, so I’m going to look at my credit card bill. That will prove I’m real.
BTW 3 weeks left in the messy office contest! You could win $10,000.00!