Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sophisticated junk mail - I suppose this must work

The other day, I received a sophisticated bit of junk mail.

The envelope had my name and address printed in that font which seems at first glance to be handwriting. The envelope had an actual 44-cent stamp. (Using a commemorative stamp would have made the illusion even more compelling.) It appeared to come in the kind of envelope a regular person would buy at a store. There was no return address, but I was curious enough to open it:

From Innovation Bootcamp

Inside was a fake news article, with a yellow Post-It that had the computer printed fake handwriting customized with my name - nice touch. It was signed "A", as if I knew the sender well enough that an abbreviation was all that is necessary. Interesting - but who in the world goes to the trouble of mailing an actual press clipping anymore?

To add to the verisimilitude, they have a cut off "Advertisement" on top of the article. If they are going to all this trouble, why not write it as a straight news article?

From Innovation Bootcamp

The fake clipping was printed on real newsprint, complete with the jagged edge of a real newspaper. From a fake newspaper with the plausible name of "Financial News Today." It seemed real enough that at first I thought it was an advertisement printed in a real newspaper that had been cut out. But I can't find any real newspaper with the name Financial News Today.

Is it a coincidence that article is about the fees that management consultants earn and that I'm a management consultant? I'm very curious what database was used to match me to this mailing.

From Innovation Bootcamp

They even have stock quotes on the back. I didn't check, but I'm willing to give the sender credit and assume that they were accurate quotes.

From Innovation Bootcamp

The whole effort struck me as much more sophisticated than an average piece of junk mail, but what puzzles me is: who responds to this offer? While clever enough to get me to open the envelope, the fact that the entire product is a fake doesn't exactly build trust that a free report will help me become a "Certified Cost Reduction Specialist" capable of earning a "6-figure salary."

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