The Federal Trade Commission created a brochure to help consumers avoid identity theft. And then the U.S. Postal Service hid it.
Let me back up. I recently received a white envelope emblazoned with the UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE logo February that looked suspiciously like junk mail. I’ve been desperate for an order form for stamps, though, so instead of tossing it into the recycling bin, I opened it.
To my chagrin, an otherwise useful brochure – already hidden from view inside an uninspiring envelope – was buried under a cover letter.
To my additional chagrin, the cover letter was four paragraphs and 268 words long.
Technically, the letter wasn’t badly written – a passive sentence or two, but nothing more. But 62 words told me what was already in the brochure, and another 39 words told me that a brochure was in the envelope (in case I hadn’t noticed, I guess) and what the brochure contained.
Oh, and the letter mentioned how hard the U.S. Postal Service is working to protect my identity – which credit-taking was, I suspect, the whole point.
By now, I’d lost interest in the whole thing and moved on to my next piece of mail.
My point is this: If you’ve written and designed a brochure to capture people’s attention, then let it do so. Keep your ego – and your signature line – out of the equation.