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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 27-Feb-09


Friday 27-February-09

Brilliant business spam

I recently had the following email recently at my business address and thought it was wonderfully manipulative.


To David,

I have been struggling to contact you so here is the information on the event. Please find the enclosed attachment for the Public Sector Intranets event being held on the 18-19th March 2009. Due to the popularity so far, we have limited places left for the site visits on the second day.

Please let me know as soon as possible if you or your colleagues are interested in attending, as this is proving to be an extremely popular event.

Have a great week and look forward to hearing from you later in the week.

Kind regards,

Neil West
Delegate Director


It was from a conference and training company. I went to one of their events a while ago and filled in the usual details, which of course meant they would forever and a day send me bumph about exciting opportunities to give them money (this event cost over ?1000). They probably wouldn't call it spam but given the uninvited nature and the tricky language I don't have any qualms about calling it out.

He starts with the 'struggling to contact', implying he has been putting effort into this and perhaps there is some culpability on my part -- and so encouraging me to respond and maybe sign up as some form of apology.

He then talks about popularity, invoking the social proof of others doing something that perhaps I should do. He also plays the scarcity card, talking about 'limited places'. Note that the 'limited' is only for site visits on the second day -- no matter, it still landed in my subconscious and started me worrying.

Then there's the 'have a great week' (be nice to them and they'll be nice to you -- the exchange principle) and closing prompt for action 'look forward to hearing from you'.

Nicely crafted, but only eight out of ten as he re-uses 'popular' and 'week', which made me switch from accepting content to thinking critically about the grammar used. It also curiously starts with 'To David'. Yes, I know I'm picky but it didn't help his message. Crafting such a letter is like Disney creating a theme park. To take people out of their normal perceptions into an alternative reality, absolutely everything contributes and a single slip can shake them out of the fantasy state you have worked so hard to put them in.

Your comments

Thought it was just me being picky about sales letters. Like the theme-park analogy.

I work as a freelance in sales and write loads of sales letters, it ain't easy. Beats being sold to I guess.

-- Paul W.

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