BEWARE OF EMAILS which say “Dear” followed by a big space, followed by your name. It means you’ve been Mail Merged.
I once individually wrote 73 emails, one a time. It took all day. I could have done it instantly using a program called Mail Merge but I was too scared. Every time I’ve used it, something goes wrong and I get 73 replies saying: “Er, I think your computer has a virus.”
And then I heard this true story from a reader.
A struggling group of accountants decided to seek new business by writing to bosses of rich companies. Junk mail marketing usually has very low levels of response, so a consultant prepared a loooong list of Zegna-wearers at big firms.
An intern was given the list and told to run the Mail Merge operation, print the letters and stuff the envelopes.
The youngster clicked the column on the Excel spreadsheet to sort the addresses into alphabetical order.
But he’d only highlighted one column, so all the names changed positions, but the addresses didn’t.
As a result, he sent out hundreds of letters to CEOs, each one bearing the name of one company’s boss, but a completely different company’s address. Disaster loomed.
A week passed. Would anyone respond?
The senders got a reply—and then another one. And then a flood of them: everyone replied. It turned out to be the most successful junk mail campaign in history.
How come? Most folk throw away junk mail. But when suit-wearers got letters that looked like they were meant for rival corporations, they HAD to read them. People are nosy. The letters were read and new business developed.
I’m not exactly sure what the moral of this tale is. It’s something like: “The Lord moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform,” or “If you’re going to screw up, screw up big time and cross your fingers that something good will result,” or “Life is weird, there’s nothing quite like it.”
I’ve never seen that advice in any business book. But it works. And if you get an email from me addressed to someone you’ve never heard of, it’s just me trying Mail Merge.
A READER forwarded me a video showing China’s first lady Peng Liyuan in a stage musical recreating China’s invasion of Tibet. Dancing Ms Peng leads the citizens of Tibet in singing:
“Who is going to liberate us? It's the dear People’s Liberation Army! Our happiness knows no boundaries!”
Don’t remember that in my history class.
Three trainee accountants take a break from statistics revision to do some archery. The first shoots his arrow 30 cm left of the bull’s eye. The second shoots his arrow 30 cm right of the bull’s eye. The third puts down his bow and fills in the score sheet, saying: “Averaging out the scores, we were bang on target.”
Moral of the story: math geeks always win.
SEEN IN small print on the back of a car: “If you can read this, I can hit my brakes and sue you. Mua ha ha ha ha.”