Academia’s Bozo Spammers

I received the following message in my Yahoo inbox:

Ross Thought in Action: New Research Relevant to You

The only Ross I know is Marji Ross, president of Regnery Publishing, and we haven’t spoken in years. We know each other slightly and are not on each other’s radar.

Normally I would scan and delete.

The word “Relevant” was the stopper. Okay, I thought, maybe these folks did some research and were sending me something of value. (Click on the link above or the image in the media player at right for what came up on my screen.)

The sender was Michigan’s Ross School of Business. The headlines of the three lede articles:

“The Professional Life: Keep it That Way”
“Employees Might Cheat More for Less”
“Turning the Traditional Classroom its Head”

Also included: 29 hyperlinks. The first two were associated with the top story, “The Professional Life: Keep it That Way,” and were simply “Read Article” and “Read Paper.”

“Read Article” clicks through to the following:

New research shows U.S. companies harbor a bias against overt displays of personal life at work.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The company holiday party — a time to relax and “be yourself,” right? And the office desk — a space to personalize because you spend so much time there.

(Note: I work at home, not in an office. I am a lone wolf. The company holiday party is not relevant.”)

The second hyperlink, “Read Paper”, clicks through to the Wiley Online Library, displaying the paper cited within the article.

Still not relevant and still a waste of my time.

This Is SSOSS Marketing
SSOSS is my new acronym:

SHOVEL SHIT ONTO STRANGE SCREENS and see if anything sticks.

It is also known throughout the world as spam.

I had never heard of Ross and Ross had never heard of Denny Hatch.

The Ross people promised me relevance, and the entire message was irrelevant.

Quite simply I was lied to.

About Email, From My Upcoming Book WRITE EVERTHING RIGHT!

It is dangerous to go through your email inbox if you are tired and not mentally at the top of your game. The reason: dealing with email requires a person’s highest cognitive functions, said Dela Quist, CEO of Alchemy Worx, U.K.

When email arrives, it raises myriad questions:

  • Should I open it or delete it?
  • Do I know the sender?
  • If I delete without reading could I get fired?
  • Does the message have an offer that could advance my career or make me rich beyond the dreams of avarice?
  • If I open this message, could it contain malware? This means my computer will be hacked, my privacy violated and my bank account looted.

Dealing with a piece of spam takes time to decide whether or not to open or delete it. If each spam requires a 2¢ worth of a person’s time, then 1 million spam messages costs the economy $20,000 in lost productivity.

How to Avoid SSOSS Marketing (a.k.a. Spam)
The hot-shot techies who have invaded the Internet generally look on us geezers—and our experience with direct mail—with utter contempt.

But everything learned in direct mail applies directly to e-commerce.

What the Ross folks sent me was the equivalent of a brochure in direct mail—a piece that goes to everybody.

This is “it” copy that shows and describes “it”—the product or service being hawked.

To make a brochure relevant in direct mail, it is imperative to send an accompanying letter filled with “you” copy that says what this product or service will do for you and why it is relevant to you.

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

Publish date: December 17, 2013 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT