Lessons From Spam

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013 by Simon Morton

(In which we will be considering the delights of both meat and email based varieties – and yes, I did say delights.)

As I child of the 70’s I know that Spam (the meat product) has its place in the world. It can contribute to an acceptable sandwich and make an interesting fritter, it sits in the back of the cupboard patiently waiting for a skint month in the certain knowledge that its time will come. But let’s be honest the one thing it’s really good at is reminding us that not every meat based meal is Sunday dinner.

As someone who spends a lot of time at a computer I know that Spam (the email kind) serves a similar purpose. It sits in your inbox until the need for procrastination arises, it tells you what people you never knew you cared about are up to and it occasionally invites you to something you’d quite like to attend. But, in line with its comestible counterpart, the main thing it’s really good at is reminding you that not all communication is effective.

A recent gem was a master class in the art of the verbose: Do I, it asked, wish to attend a webinar to ‘discover a pragmatic way to uncover the customer buying process or “sales motion” and connect it with the intentions and actions of the go-to-market teams to eliminate execution gaps.’  I’ve read it a few times now and I still don’t know, mostly because I don’t understand the question.

When we start to consider that emails are supposed to capture their audiences’ attention quickly and get their message across before the recipient can hit ‘delete’ the whole thing becomes even scarier.

Presentation audiences are not armed with a delete button and it’s every presenter’s job to ensure that their audience is not trying to wish one into existence. People need to understand to be engaged.

If you’re product or service will save people time and money by helping them work more efficiently then tell them how and why. Don’t pretend it’s ‘an holistic approach to the betterfication of the cost-production-retail analysis in line with an overarching efficiency framework’ because they’ll know that’s complete rubbish and they’ll presume that your product is too.

The Plain English Campaign has a brilliant gobbledegook generator on their website, today it gave me this gem of business speak ‘It’s time that we became uber-efficient with our ambient digital innovation.’ Which would have been funny, if only I could have escaped the eerie feeling that I’ve read it somewhere before….?


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One Response to “Lessons From Spam”

  1. Eamonn says:

    I would add – like spam you have to target your audience.
    Being aware of what presses their buttons is essential.
    Does the big boss hate powerpoint? Are you talking with nerds, hipsters or fogeys?
    e.g. As a fogey, for me if quotation marks aren’t indented -then they’re amateurs
    IMNAAHO (In my not at all humble opinion).

    There’s no point in offering a vegetarian a spam fritter (even with brown sauce or branston pickle). No matter how wonderful it is.

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