“You want an extra $1500 in grant money this summer?” This would be the voice of my research advisor speaking.

Well, duh. Part of the brain initially wonders what the work involved will be, but I suppress that question and give the only reasonable response.

“Yes! Totally!”

Never show hesitation in the face of grant money. After you’ve laid on a good dollop of enthusiasm, then (and only then) ask what they want you to do. In this case, I needed to apply for an entrepreneurial internship position funded by the university, working in PR and marketing for the Wake Forest-based mathematics journal Involve. I wrote up a great two page, single-spaced statement of my interests in PR, marketing and the publication industry (actually not unfounded), and handed that in along with a “scope of work,” description of proposed job title and responsibilities. The entrepreneurship office thought everything looked very positive, but wanted to see a bit more in the way of market analysis and reading. Fair enough. The woman recommended anything from the Guerrilla Marketing series, so, after plundering the library, I kicked back to enjoy Guerrilla Marketing Attack.

I present to you now a few of the hitherto unknown subtleties of bulk mail – more commonly known as junk.

Have you ever wondered why promotional letters almost invariably have a PS? Apparently, going by the statistics, people who go so far as opening a junk mail letter usually only read two parts – the introduction, and the PS. To bulk mailers, failure to include a PS is viewed as marketing suicide.

The most effective color for a junk mail envelope is (surprisingly) white, but preferably with a non-bulk mail stamp. Better yet, a commemorative. Even better: eight or so stamps of smaller denominations. These approaches truly take effort, because you have to lick or peel the stamps yourself, and can’t do it by machine. Dedication, people, dedication.

And the hilarious part is that I now involuntarily evaluate the junk mail coming through my house. Looking at the variety of letters passing across my dining room table from day to day, it’s enough to make me sigh and give a tsk tsk. So many obvious missteps. So many ways a given piece could be tightened up. And it lends even more credibility to offer I just got from Rock and Ice. Because they got me to open the envelope, consider their offer of a free carabiner with subscription, and think hard enough about the special discount rate that I didn’t actually throw the thing away. I probably will. But, like a good pick-up line, it deserves credit. Maybe not a date, but credit.

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