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You Are A Winner 1 February 2001 Edition
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Yes, "you are a winner" are the words I sometimes see on envelopes that arrive in the mail promoting some worthless product or service that I don't want and certainly don't need.

It's a trick used by direct marketers to stop the gullible from immediately chucking their unsolicited junk mail in the bin -- and I guess it must work sometimes or they wouldn't keep trying to deceive people in this way.

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Of course many spammers have taken these tactics to the Internet as well and used the same, or similar, misleading subject line on their bulk emails.

This story in this morning's NZ Herald set some alarm bells ringing for me and, I believe, carries the wrong message.

If you read very carefully it does make the point that the subject of a marketing email should be related to the content of the message -- but any casually skimming the article could be forgiven for believing that it endorses the use of deceptive and unethical phrases as email subject lines.

These two sentences in particular are, in my opinion, very ill-advised:

" It may not relate to your business, but you can take a lesson from "Enter the compound of forbidden sex." Another effective eyeline grabber is "re: your request" or something that relates to a previous message."

I also think that to run such an article, extolling the virtues of direct email marketing, without a far more visible warning against the use of unsolicited commercial emails (UCE or spam) is poor form. The writer should know that in a publication such as the NZ Herald, this is likely to be read by a number of neophyte would-be spammers just looking for ideas and who can't read between the lines.

Sorry NZ Herald, you're not a winner this time.

Net-Workers Must Wear Ties
My how things have changed in a very short space of time.

Just a year ago, having any kind of skill related to the creation or operation of a dot-com venture made you a highly valuable individual.

The world was screaming for more web programmers, designers, and anyone with Internet skills with even the most mediocre of workers attracting huge salaries and incentive packages.

These days however, those at the lacklustre end of the ability spectrum might be better advised to check out a career pumping petrol or packing groceries.

Day after day we read headlines announcing huge layoffs at Net-based companies. Hell, even Amazon has just pointed the razor-gang at its staff -- laying off 1,300 people in one fell swoop.

Don't get me wrong, there's still strong demand for good people with experience, relevant skills, a winning personality and good discipline -- but it's no longer the employees that are dictating the terms of employment.

In many ways this is good for the industry. It allows the costs of running an online business to be brought back to earth and gives employers the chance to hire really good people rather than "who ever they can get."

My goodness, how things are changing -- what next? Will web designers and code-cutters have to wear ties I wonder?

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Copyright © 2001, Bruce Simpson, free republication rights available on request

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