Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This work is good work

Two hundred and twenty-four letters need to be printed (4 goes it took for the printer to acknowledge the tray, the correct paper, the single-sidedness of the issue) each needs to be folded (by hand, so the crease is right to read the address through the little window) and go into one of two hundred and twenty-four envelopes, each letter to be accompanied by two copies of the competition form.
Dull day much?

There have been worse.
This client loves a personalised mailout. The largest so far was for 8000 but I made the client pay a rambunctious group of seniors to do the folding and stuffing (the printing alone took me over 7 hours). It would be easy to think that this kind of thing is a real low-point of my job. So tedius, so old-school, so, so predictable. And so yes they are tasks I'll procrastinate over a bit, mostly because once I start them they create massive drifts of papers and if it all gets interrupted (paper jams, unexpected meetings, file crashes) it can be a real mongrel to figure out where everything was up to.

Actually these mailouts hit nearly all of the key criteria for satisfying work! How can this be?

  1. It is easy to tell when I'm finished - the letters are put into our mailroom lady's hands. We exchange brief pleasantries.
  2. These letters work. Addressed to previous customers who have purchased tickets to a similar show in the last 2 years, these are qualified, hot prospects. They sell tickets.
  3. At the end of the process there's no further anxiety - that happens up front when I want to do something either new, tricky or clever with the copy and the client wants things nice and normal. Once that discussion is resolved for each project it is virtually a mechanical process to complete. I don't lose sleep over it once the lovely mail lady takes charge.
  4. Did I mention that they work? We know because of the timings of sales after postage, but also because when we put a special offer in the letter, we can track the results super easily. Last time 800 letters got us over 100 sales. Sweet!
  5. The client doesn't have to pay for postage and they get sales - mailouts make them happy. Happy client = less stress for me.

So as I sit folding, folding, folding, and stuffing (and checking I haven't put them in backwards) I can turn my brain off knowing that the only risk is a paper-cut or keep it on a little and browse some news and listen to music safe in the knowledge that although it might not be glamorous, exciting, interesting or something that would ever ever get mentioned in ads or shows about this industry, this work is good work. I am content.

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