Why Americans Can't, Don't and Won't Read
I was suckered into opening Jay Malik’s e-mail. His subject line was “Back From the Dead.” I did not recognize the name Jay Malik, but that subject line indicated that he was someone coming back into my life after many years. I took the bait.
What I got was a dense, boring 400-word lecture on the history of the death tax with a salutation, “Hi!” and one benefit: “We save you more in taxes than you invest in our fees.”
I am illustrating the complete Jay Malik e-mail (visible in the mediaplayer to the right) as a textbook example of why most businesspeople should hire professional writers when they feel they have something to say.
At the same time, here is a textbook example of the arrant idiocy of using the Internet as a marketing medium to strangers. Quite simply, it is so cheap to send outgoing messages that if you get two orders per million, it is considered a success. Meanwhile the sender has wasted the time of—and pissed off—the 9,999,998 other recipients and cost $20,000 in lost productivity.
Why is it that Americans can’t, don’t and won’t read?
Our brains are rewired.
Our time and productivity are being hijacked by amateurs.
Four Roadblocks Every Author Must Overcome
Roadblock #1: Time Crunch
One of the greatest practitioners of advertising was Claude Hopkins (1866-1932), author of “My Life in Advertising.” Among his clients: Schlitz beer, Quaker Oats, Pepsodent toothpaste, Studebaker Automobiles Co. and Goodyear tires. In his “Scientific Advertising,” Hopkins' analysis of people and their reading habits in 1923 is all the more relevant in today's dizzying multi-media world:
Always bear these facts in mind. People are hurried. The average person worth cultivating has too much to read. They skip three-fourths of the reading matter, which they pay to get. They are not going to read your business talk unless you make it worth their while and let the headline show it.