Whilst junk e-mail doesn’t send me into a frothing-at-the-mouth rant like it does some people, I do get a touch annoyed when it’s necessary to register with a site and provide lots of highly identifiable information like full post codes, phone numbers and e-mail addresses just to do something like get a quote or in some cases even see their products, not least because next time I visit I have to remember my username and password. And because it invariably sets off a new round of incoming junk mail.
Some time ago, I heard about the then new e-Bike insurance, and went and got a quote, even though I needed to go through all the registration nonsense.
Although the result was something along the lines of “ho ho ho – you think we’ll insure a bike instructor with a GSXR750?”, a friend had an excellent quote so I’m not going to give them a hard time over that.
But somewhere on the site, I must have missed the little box marked:
“if you don’t want to receive annoying e-mail from us until hell freezes over, please tick here. [ ]”
And for some daft reason, I used my main e-mail address rather than a disposable one. And I can’t be bothered to find my log-in details which have long since disappeared into the bin on a Post-It note, or find opt out details in the mail or website.
So, I get a regular stream of inconsequential offers and non-news from e-bike, which usually get dropped straight in the bin without me reading them. Still, I guess that’s one part of the paperless office which actually does save paper.
Anyway, trying to bring this back on track before I waste too many pixels, I’m always keen to pick up new ideas about riding, for myself and for the training courses. So when the latest words from e-Bike drop onto through the virtual doormat, entitled:
“Super tips from the Superbike School”
I open it and read it. Penned by the ubiquitous Andy Ibbott, we’re promised:
“an insight into cornering and the fears many people associate with it”
Could be useful, I think… and read on…
After making some guesses about what the average rider might like to improve (safer, quicker, smoother, knee down, more lean angle etc. etc.) Andy says: “There is a common thread with all of these points and no doubt with other points I am sure you can think of corners.“
I think a bit of punctuation would have helped comprehension, but I got the gist so let’s not be picky. Andy then asks why corners are such a challenge and comes up with “fear of falling off”. You don’t say?
OK, so now we’re half way through the mail and we’ve managed to repeat the title; I’ve not learned a lot yet.
Moving on. Another paragraph about the “buzz” and “enjoyment”, one more about moving our “limits” so instead of cornering at 50mph at 99%, we corner at 65 at 80%.
I’m guessing he didn’t mean the speed “limit” then.
Then we get the answer. To “defeat fear and cure the unknown” we need “knowledge”.
Get out of here!! Well I never…
And “2008 is the year to seek it out!” Apparently.
Followed by the email address and website address for the Superbike school. And another top news item about Leon Haslam signing autographs.
Err… is that it? [turns over virtual paper and rapidly scans other side] Yep, that’s it.
OK, I know the real job of something like that e-mail is to be a “teaser”; to provide just enough stimulation to encourage people to hit the keyboard and demand “tell me more”, and shortly after part with large amounts of cash for a training course at the Superbike school and perhaps I’m just a bit naive in expecting some real substance in there.
It’ll no doubt have led to a bunch of cheques winging their way through the post and keeping Andy and his chums in employment, but I’d hope the more discerning reader would get to the sign off at the bottom as disgruntled at the lack of “super tips” as I was.
Then I read it again. Sudden insight moment. I cut and pasted the text into a word processor and ran a word count – 495. Call it a nice round 500. Interesting. Now, my column in “The Road”, the Motorcycle Action Group journal, was originally capped at 500 words (I’ve managed to sneak it up to a thousand but don’t tell Mutch the editor!) and 500 words is a very tough limit to write to. It calls for a great deal of focus, as well as a strict economy with words, to get in under the bar.
So my admiration for the construction – if not the content – went up considerably. In its way, this email is a masterpiece in communication skills – it manages to sound knowledgeable all the way through whilst saying nothing very precisely.
Unfortunately, if they can do that with the press release, it does make me wonder if they’ve managed to do the same sort of thing with the training itself! But I guess if Andy is out of a job with the Superbike school, he could turn his hand to DSA press releases!