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Simple, Honest Business Email

by Chris Maher  |  
July 12, 2005

A few years back, when we were all far more brilliant than we are at present, I wrote an article titled "Human Email" that was meant to gently shake marketing folks from a peculiar trance.

At the time, many marketers were enchanted with the notion that business email communication lived in its own precious universe, where the usual tenets of effective business communication did not apply.

Generally speaking, the article was well received. My email box filled up with virtual applause. Oh, there was the occasional "everything you said was obvious. So why did you bother?"

Then, in the way that the world usually works, everyone went right back to their places with more-or-less bright and shiny faces and resumed sending out anything-but-human email.

So, being a little stubborn, let me try again. I've learned a few things since that original article. Here we go.

The first cut is the least kind

Most people whom I've observed sifting through their email boxes do a little prioritizing exercise that can be called the "first cut."

My observation is that the first cut works in favor of those emails from people (friends, clients and colleagues) you know those with subject lines that are relevant to you.

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Chris Maher is president of Fosforus, an Austin-based, business-to-business marketing, media, and interactive design firm. Reach him at

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