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Monthly Archive: March 2005

Monday, March 21, 2005

Monday, March 21, 2005
Jurisprudence vs Schiavo

In case you missed the news today, the ‘evangelsterical’ legislature has erased 200 years of jurisprudence and the long revered Jeffersonian tradition of upholding state’s rights - all in one fell sloop. The Schiavo Bill, as I’m sure it will be remembered, bypasses the Florida state judiciary entirely and moves authority to the federal court. Keep in mind… this is a case that has traversed the entire length of the Florida court system – more than seven years of judicial process – right up to the Florida Supreme Court. And they have concluded – after presentation of evidence and by fair judgment of peers and judge – that Terry Schiavo did not want to live this way.

Regrettably, this latest shameful episode of political wrangling has moved the discussion well beyond Terry Schiavo’s private and personal wishes. Whether Ms Schaivo would wish this or not, she has become a convenient popularist device with which to wrench the balance of powers between the three branches of government.

So, I say to the 109t Congress, why all the coy disguises? Your intentions are clear enough… why not abolish the entire judicial branch… that would simplify things for you, sure enough.

In the meantime, for the rest of us – you can be alarmed, as I and many other moderates; or joyous, as are many reactionary conservatives undoubtedly are today (dancing in the streets, by some reports). Or if you are not concerned – if this event has not aroused you from your day-to-day toil and totter, then do not be concerned. Don’t worry about the peeling away of one layer of the check and balance, the reduction of state’s rights, and further marginalization of individual rights. Sure enough, you can trust that when the chips are down the legislative tyrants will be compassionate.

Thomas Jefferson, no… the entire 1774 Continental Congress is yearning to reach out and throttle the authors of this ill conceived, self righteous piece of foul legislation. -HP

Monday, March 21, 2005
Talking Cheap

I have always held to the notion that email improved communication between a customers and marketers, but I have never favored email as a tool for trolling for new customers. Allow me to explain.

Certainly the low cost of email makes it attractive for all sorts of marketing activities, but (if I may quote myself) "communicating on the cheap, cheapens the communication." Customers like email as an alternative for service via phone - but they don't like Sears sending them coupons for a new hair dryer. That dog just don't hunt.

I have been writing commercially since 1984 and 'joined' the Internet movement when I was drafted to help with the launch of CollegeNET in 1995. We NEVER used email for communicating with our target market (parents of college-seeking high school age students). We let our partner marketers do that job for us by sending postcards and letters, and inserting display ads into targeted college-bound magazines. I got a bit of flack from other consultants for issuing that campaign model, but it worked wonderfully. Meanwhile, Excite.com fired me in 1997 for asserting that - among other things - SPAM was worse than useless. Well, Excite.com is a mere shadow of its former self and today CollegeNET is doing quite well as one of the nation's top two online college application service providers. Okay, okay. I wasn’t the only reason that CollegeNET is successful, but I most certainly grasped the folly of email marketing.

The potential cost savings is certainly a strong impetus – but are the costs really less? Consider the con artists, phishers, hackers, spinners, et cetera. And don't forget the anti-marketers who have been working quite diligently to render email totally useless for any purpose. With so much dissonance in the channel and the potential for negative reaction from the target audience, who's to say that the cost of online marketing isn't actually higher than snail mail?

Finally, another outrageous claim that may earn me more groans and moans (such as I heard at the once glorious mega-square foot facility of Excite.com): the credibility of e-mail as a mechanism for marketing is – at this time – totally exhausted. The only people who benefit from rich media are the blokes selling the service (and getting rich).

I differentiate customer care where email is a great way to enrich the consumer experience. But that’s about the limit of the caveat. These days, even legitimate email has a hard time reaching its intended recipient. Many savvy users are filtering out spam (about 80%, according to McAfee) with the mind that if the message is really important, the sender will use another method of communication.

Most users are happy with using their email for a quick jot to a close circle of associates and colleagues. We’re also keen to use email as we once used FAXes. Now read very closely here… do we communicate via FAX all of the time? No. And how do we feel about receiving marketing messages over FAX? About the same way we feel about somebody poking us in the eye with a pencil. Therefore, should we conduct ourselves differently with email? Absolutely not.

So, all you junior marketers who are still trying to find a way to use email to cull for new customers (whether you have an opt-in license or not), maybe it's high time that you start dragging out those old envelope moisteners and consider that perhaps - just perhaps – the old dogs were right all along. -HP

Monday, March 21, 2005
Gaps in the Stream

I'm writing this on the fly... raw as hell. Just getting around to putting my mind around the last nine months: my brother's wife passed away (after a very long battle with cancer), my wife's father died of an aneurysm, and my dad died of a heart attack. Not an excuse for my absence - just a fact.

I still have the sensation that the forest was thinned out - most of the old trees are gone. Hell, now I'm one of the old trees. -HP

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