How to Communicate via E-mail
I never open “personal letters” from strangers in my Yahoo or AOL inbox. Too often, they’re the Nigeria scam or a pitch for Viagra.
But the following subject line intrigued me: “Personal letter from the CEO of Titan Holdings (TTGL) as they anticipate …”
I can’t recall ever receiving a personal letter from a CEO. My ego was stroked.
Even though I’d never heard of Titan Holdings—and knowing it was most probably Spam—I clicked on it to see this “personal letter.”
There was nothing personal about it.
And therein lies the problem with e-mail and e-commerce.
Remembering the Dot-com Boom
In 1999, a serial entrepreneur named Jay Walker had just taken his priceline.com public, and was honored as Direct Marketer of the Year at the Direct Marketing Days New York conference at the Hilton. The acceptance speech was a stem-winder. In the words of Direct’s Thom Weidlich:
Walker envisioned a tomorrow where so many things Direct Marketers are used to paying massively for—postage, paper, printing, lettershop services, toll-free calls—will be free because they will be taken care of on the Internet. In addition, direct marketers will hold no inventory, and pre-press costs will drop 90% (and the work will take 15 minutes), Walker predicted.
Walker’s message wasn’t happy news for printers, paper and envelope salesmen, list owners and proprietors of lettershops—all of whom paid handsomely to attend the luncheon. At the conclusion of Walker’s talk, all of us in the audience were ready to slash our collective wrists.
Fast forward to Nov. 2, 2006. In a New York Times story titled “Junk Mail Is Alive and Growing,” Louise Story reported that last year, marketers sent more than 114 billion direct mailings—catalogs, envelope efforts, self-mailers and postcards—a 15 percent increase over five years ago.
And most of the dot-com prodigies from 1998-2000 are in another line of work.