How would you feel if you got a spam email from a legitimate business with a five meg PDF attachment... twice?
It just happened. It happens all of the time. You didn't give them your email address and you certainly didn't give them permission to send you anything, but they still do it. Where did they get your name? It was either a stolen database, an unscrupulous seller of a sketchy third-party, maybe they went through a physical directory from your trade association, or they could even be scraping it right off of the websites from companies they would like as customers.
Whatever they're doing, it's wrong and it provides another annoying reason why people don't trust Marketers (and maybe why they never will).
We all expect this kind of conduct from the more sketchy businesses out there, but when it comes from a legitimate business that you know, the pain cuts deep. It's bad enough when it's just an email, but to include a 5 meg PDF attachment and also leave the entire list of email addresses that it's being sent to exposed is just plain idiotic. You know what happened next? Because they lack even basic email marketing skills, they sent it through again because their email server probably bounced a bunch of them back.
I called them on it.
Literally. I spoke to someone (who you could tell was fielding irate calls) who said that they didn't know where they got my email address from, but that they would remove it. And, after all of that, they didn't even say "sorry for the inconvenience" or even try to crack a joke about how they clearly don't get it. Nothing. Even after explaining to them that it is unethical to send those types of email (maybe even illegal). Not even a "sorry."
Spamming someone is illegal, but that's not the sad part. The sad part is that we have to tell Marketers that it's illegal and we have to pass a law.
We would all be better off if we just used some common sense. Never send any customers, clients or potential ones anything unless they've either asked you to, or have given their explicit permission. If you really want more and more people that are not a part of your ethical database, try some mass advertising. You can even use the mass advertising campaign to really try to build and nurture your database. It could be a contest, provide them a white paper, etc...
Spam is not going to go away any time soon, unless everybody (and that includes you) stops responding to it. We could also take things up a notch and declare that - as Marketers - we are not going to take part or accept it when this type of practice is done.
A little self-policing in our own industry could go a long way.