Don’t do this. Just don’t.

Hey e-mail marketers: do you have a long-term plan?  Does it include automatically sending rather generic messages to your clients?

You might want to review those seemingly innocuous messages on a regular basis – and also right before they are scheduled to be released.  Yes, this process is tedious.  Do it.  Or else, you will end up sending out things that are, well… just dumb.

Do I have an example?  I’m so glad you asked.  I sure do.

Today, I received a missive from an investment company that I do business with (or did do business with.  Re-evaluation is definitely in the cards, all things considered).  Here is the meat of the message:

You deserve a retirement that’s worth looking forward to. To some, it’s a time for travel and adventure. To others, it’s a time for relaxing at home. Whatever your dreams, most financial professionals estimate that you will need 70-95% of your pre-retirement income to maintain the lifestyle you enjoy today.

Following these steps can help you achieve the retirement you desire.

Maximize Your 401(k) or 403(b). Many employers offer matching contributions,
and pre-tax contributions may lower your taxable income.
Open and Fund a New IRA. Get valuable tax benefits. Plus, E*TRADE IRAs
have no annual fees and no minimums1, and a wide range of investment
choices. Open Your IRA.
Roll Over Old 401(k) Assets to an IRA. Make the most of your retirement
assets with stocks, bonds, and 7,000 mutual funds. Roll Over Now.
Build Additional Savings. Even if you max out on all your tax-advantaged
retirement saving options, you may need to build additional assets in a
taxable account. Open an account today.

(Links intentionally broken)

Nowhere in this cheery bit of advertising prose is there any mention of the fact that the worldwide financial markets are in a gobsmackingly awful tailspin, that current retirees are in a panic that their retirement funds may not cover their old age, that even people like me who have more than a few years to go before we even think about retirement are dreadfully uneasy about the state of affairs.  You may have read about this.  It has made one or two news reports lately.

I could see the potential for an investment marketing claim that now is, in fact, the time to step in and put your money on the table since the markets are so bad and things are so cheap, but that argument isn’t made here.  Instead, the reader is treated to the same old “common sense investing” messages, without any acknowledgment of the catastrophic global crisis in the financial world.

The kindest interpretation of the subtext to all of this business-as-usualspeak is that the company that sent this e-mail marketing message is colossally clueless.  That’s not the kind of message any business wants to send at the best of times – and nobody (with the possible exception of the company in question) needs to be told that right now is emphatically not the best of times.

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