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What Guerrillas Know About Email

Guerrillas are well aware that free marketing exists in its most free state as email, which is far more than merely letters with free postage.

Mark Twain said he never let his schooling interfere with his education. Regardless of your schooling, thereís little chance it covered what technology makes possible today. If you took a course in how computers can aid your marketing, the first insight you would have gained would be into the profitability for you if you become savvy about email.

When you think of email, donít compare it with snail mail because itís considerably different. In fact, it is such an improvement on old-fashioned mail delivery that the U.S. Postal service now uses it, and today there is a lot more email being sent daily than snail mail. Soon, half of all bills and payments will be sent electronically. Two-thirds of Social Security checks, tax refunds and other federal payments sent in l999 went electronically.

In fact, the U.S. Postal Service is now in serious trouble because of the vast amount of information transmitted via the Internet. For much of this, guerrillas owe a tip of their propeller beanie to Ray Tomlinson who invented email in l971.

You can use email in your marketing in ways that will make your customers delighted to be doing business with you. Guerrillas love email but hate junk email, known as spamming. Their affinity to email is because they can deliver their messages instantly and to anywhere in the world if the recipients are online, as more and more of them are with each word I type. That means email saves you time in communicating and money that you used to spend on postage. It can also help save trees on the planet because it is so delightfully paperless.

Each recipient can read your email on screen or print and save it just as with a standard letter, which does use paper. But you donít have to print and save your email, saving you the cost of paper and the convenience of space. Save it in your computer. Make copies as you need them. All your files and memos can be kept in one convenient location. Each one is dated and timed. Many experts feel that for all the great things about being online, email is the most valuable of all computer applications.

Email also helps you save on the cost of courier service and faxing. You can use it to send brief messages or long documents, to send black and white communications or colorful, beautifully-designed materials. Itís easy for you and easy for the person who receives your email.

Who should that be? People who want to receive it, thatís who. Find their names on your customer list, in the newsgroups to which you belong, in chatrooms where theyíre talking about your industry, possibly even your company. Although email isnít free, because you need a computer and internet connection, itís far less expensive than telephoning, mailing or faxing. When using it, keep your message as brief as possible because people read computer screens differently than letters. They know being online saves time, so they donít want to waste time reading long things. As Thomas Jefferson said, "Never use two words when one word will do."

Youíre aware, as all guerrillas are, of how technology such as email can strengthen your marketing. Youíve also got to be aware of its limitations and of the new advancements that are taking place at breakneck speed. Donít let those advancements overwhelm you. Very little becomes obsolete, but nearly everything becomes improved.

Technology, for all the wondrous things about it, can also be a major distraction and a drain on your time if you focus on the technology itself rather than on the benefits it can bring to your business.

As "Net Benefits" author Kim Elton reminds us, "Business is life and life is messy. Like a kitchen sink full of dirty dishes, you know that when youíve finally cleaned them up, someone will burn a tuna casserole and youíll be back in sudsy water up to your elbows with a Brillo pad in no time. But if the kids are growing up healthy and strong -- and helping out with the dishes now and then -- itís all worth the effort. Soon youíll get a dishwasher and you can shift the mess from the sink to the dishwasher. The dishes still have to be cleaned. The technology eases the labor and takes away some of the pain, but it doesnít relieve the duty."

Thatís the insight that I want you to take from this column. Technology helps with the job but doesnít do the job. Thatís your task. In order for you to understand how technology can help you, itís not necessary for you to learn the technical jargon, the nerdy part of technology. But you must comprehend the impact of technology and the ways it can transform a squirt gun into a cannon.

To cash in on the transformation, you must be in close touch with your needs. Technology will help you meet them. You must know how best to utilize the technology in which youíve invested to get the maximum benefit for the money youíve put forth. Youíve got to recognize hype for just what it is and solid science for just what it is.

You wouldnít dream of running a business without using a telephone. The computer will be just as endemic as phones. Using technology will be as easy as making a phone call. Itís already well in its way. Investment research company Robertson Stephens stated it this way:

"Communicating is becoming the primary role of computers after four decades of number crunching. We stand at a technology crossroads and are witnessing a technological metamorphosis....In our opinion, computers, originally designed for number crunching and applied to computing tasks for nearly 50 years, will be used in the future primarily for communicating." The future is now the present.

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By Jay Conrad Levinson

About the Author: Jay Conrad Levinson

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Jay Conrad Levinson is the author of the best-selling marketing series in history, "Guerrilla Marketing," plus 30 other books. His books have sold 14 million copies worldwide. His guerrilla concepts have influenced marketing so much that today his books appear in 41 languages and are required reading in many MBA programs worldwide.
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