Posted by: brandextenders | February 22, 2010





Oh, hi, you caught me deleting some of the many e-mails I got today which, for some reason, started me thinking about e-mail in general and how it’s changed my life for good, but not always for the better.


When I get to the office, the first thing I do is hook my laptop up to the network, open Outlook and check e-mail. Boom, there they are, more than 30 little missives all waiting to tell me something, or, in the case of junk e-mail, waiting to sell me something. And those 30 just came in early this morning, when my co-workers, family, friends and customers were slowly beginning to function and usually hadn’t had enough coffee to be considered safe in front of a keyboard.

Everyone scans unopened e-mails differently, and my strategy is to first look for messages from clients (after all, we are in this business to make money). Next, I look for family and friend’s names in the “to/from” spot, or a recognizable note in the “subject” header, and I glance at those. Last, but not least, I trash the junk e-mails and say a silent little curse to advertising in the new century—although not too big because we are, after all, in the advertising business ourselves.


In looking at my e-mails, about one-third are from internal co-workers, one-third are from customers and the balance is split between family, friends and junk mail. Of these, I’ve found the e-mails from people I know can be broken down into three different types:‘

CYAers’: These people send an e-mail to you and everyone they know as a CC or even BCC just to cover their behinds on every issue that could possibly affect them. They don’t want it to ever be said in these times of mass layoffs and forced retirement they didn’t dot their i’s and cross their t’s. While they suck up to their bosses (or anyone else’s bosses), the rest of us pay the price.

Long Winded: These are the ones who, in times long past, would have written you a 10-page letter even when they had nothing to say. Now it’s a thousand word e-mail, and if you don’t read it, you just might miss a nugget of information that could change your life—or not!!

Forwarders: Of all the categories of e-mailers, these are the most dreaded. I’ll get an e-mail from someone I haven’t heard from in years and think, “Cool, I can’t wait to see what ‘ol Billy Bob is up to these days.” Instead, it’s a message thrice forwarded about some little earthworm in the tropics being hunted to extinction by birds, and it’s our job to save their little butts by forwarding this message to 10 (it’s always 10, never three or six or 15) people we know well who will also forward it to their list of 10—so within a few days the whole world will know of this earthworm’s plight and somehow step in to stop its destruction. (Click…Boom…Gone!) Or this group forwards a “hilarious” joke, a humorous picture of their child dressed as a turnip for the Thanksgiving pageant or some unbelievable statistics they found on some obscure Web site proving the world is going to spin off its axis and fly out into space sometime in the next few weeks—and I better pack some clean underwear and socks for the trip. (Click…Boom…Gone!).

I now find myself spending several hours a day, at minimum, checking, answering and dealing with e-mail—and my question is: What did we do with all the “extra” time we had a mere five or 10 years ago? If e-mail were to suddenly disappear from our lives, we might have an extra 10 to 20 hours a week to fill, and there are things I know I could do with those extra hours—spending more time with the family, reading, taking classes, nurturing a hobby and taking naps (notice I didn’t include watching more TV, another time sucker, but that’s an article in itself).

But alas, the odds of e-mail disappearing from our lives is a fantasy. In the years to come, it will probably take up even more time than it does now. So, I’ve learned to make peace with it and use it to my advantage. It has helped me generate more business by sending good ideas to my clients in a single blast. I can save on postage by e-mailing pictures of items to clients rather than sending them bulky catalogs. And, I can get quotes, proofs and acknowledgements in the hands of my customers immediately—saving time and being more efficient in an increasingly inefficient world. The Post Office, couriers and freight companies have all felt the negative effects of e-mail as more and more people and businesses choose to send things electronically rather than in an envelope or box.

So the question for all of us is, “How we can better use e-mail to increase business, make more money and better communicate with workers, family and friends, all the while keeping the human touch that makes our industry special?” It’s a delicate balancing act that’s only going to get more challenging as the Internet and e-mail mature. For now, my best advice is to delete liberally and be succinct in the e-mails you send, otherwise you, too, may be click…boom…gone before you know what hit your mother board. In fact, more have come in while I’ve been writing this, so it’s back to the monitor and…






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