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The Dos and Don’ts of Emerging Technologies Like iBeacon

30 July '14 | Debjyoti Paul

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17 July '14 | Anshuman Singh

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8 Steps to Building a Successful Self Service Portal

03 June '14 | Giridhar LV

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03 January '14 | Gopikrishna Aravindan

The Lost Art of Written Communication

Posted on: 24 September '09

Like everyone whose career has spanned two decades or more, I’ve witnessed the creation of email and then smart phones to help make our communication easier and more real-time. But I’m not convinced these tools have made our communication more effective. Maybe that is why I am part of a select minority who does not own a Blackberry (or similar device) today.

For MindTree’s lead generation campaigns, we don’t have the advantage of describing a true product when writing to an executive to request a meeting. We need to describe services that are obviously not tangible. So one needs to rely on effective written communication to convince IT or Engineering executives to meet with us. Sounds easy enough? Well, consider that in the outsourcing industry, it has been estimated that there are more than 1000 services providers. More or less, all of us providers are targeting the same prospects. So conservatively, we can estimate that these prospects- IT/engineering executives– receive dozens, if not hundreds, of emails a week all pitching very similar if not identical capabilities.

How can we differentiate in this saturated market?

As Chief Marketing Officer, I read my share of emails that can be best described as “DOA” (dead on arrival). “DOA” means there is no chance that it is being read. Executives inundated with choices are not going to entrust multi-million dollar engagements with someone who cannot communicate effectively. Think about it: how often have you received an email pitching a product or service that is not relevant (i.e. poor target segmentation)? Or emails that contain numerous typos and grammar mistakes? Or a 500+ word email that requires that we read 4 paragraphs to understand what (why) you received it in the first place (i.e. poor structure and format)? It’s all about creating trust and a favorable first impression.

Coming back to my opening comment, I believe email and smart phones are at least in part to blame for poor communication. I’ve seen both tools become so taxing on people’s mind (“I gotta check my inbox at all hours of the day”) that they lose the ability to perceive, interpret and think. The end result is DOA email campaigns.

The message I try to deliver to our business development team is to put less emphasis on completing the transaction with an executive(s) quickly and more emphasis on making sure it’s what the executives wants to hear . What good is real-time response if it’s the wrong response?

I’m not suggesting we go back to manual typewriters and voice mail to communicate. I did my share of that in the early 1990s selling for NCR Corporation in New York City. Thankfully, that ship has sailed. Rather, I am merely suggesting we do not use these tools without thought.

Mindtree Blog Archives

Mindtree blog Archives are a collection of blogs by various authors who have independently contributed as thought leaders in the past. We may or may not be in a position to get the authors to respond to your comments.

  • Syam Mohan

    I partly agree with you. Its very true that the usage of these gadget/gizmos have deteriorated the thought process of humans but on the flip side without these we will fall behind others in the rat race.

  • Hi Joseph,
    You are so lucky that a blackberry is not thrust upon you. Uneasy lies the head if the hand holds a blackberry! 😎
    I agree in toto with your post. A well written pitch makes a lot of difference. A pitch that states how useful that service will be to me, in clear and simple terms rocks!
    In addition to long winding pitches that seem to go nowhere, I just hate it when people use “sms” or “text message” language in their emails.
    Best, Lubna

  • Thanks Lubna for writing. Honestly, I don’t know how much longer I will be able to avoid a smartphone before it is thrust upon me. But one thing is for sure: I will continue to adhere to the principles I wrote about in my blog. It would not transform the way I communicate today!

  • Vijay. M

    Hi Joe,

    I was listening to a HBR Podcast today about writing effectively at work. They mainly focused on email communication and its effective use.

    I think, since we cannot avoid emails now-a-days, atleast we have to learn from these sources and perfect our email communication methods.

    Also clarity in written communication more than content size and vocab is very important. The future workforce should be more adept with this skill to make a difference in the workplace.


  • I agree with you Vijay…clarity is key. Also, when it comes to content “less is more.”

  • Jim Cook

    Great point, Joseph.

    It’s good to know that someone in marketing is tuned into this issue. But, you know, I think it’s less a matter of new technology than it is (and has always been) a lack of communication skills. The manner of transmission will continue to evolve, but communication has always been a matter of being clear about one’s purpose for communicating and also fully understanding what the audience needs to hear and how they want to hear it.

    I think you nailed it when you focused on the thought that goes into a message.

  • Jim Cook

    Great point, Joseph.
    Your focus on the thought that goes into a mesage seems to me to be the issue, rather than the means of transmission. The manner of transmisssion has continued to evolve over time, but being clear about our purpose and comprehending the needs of the audience (how little time they have, how many msgs they receive, what they need to hear to become interested) always have been the crucial ingredients to good communication.
    The ease and speed with which we can communicate may have seduced many into feeling that they don’t have to spend time on a msg. But I think it is more a matter of human nature to write without taking the time to get focused.

  • Joseph King


    Thanks for writing. You bring up a few interesting points. Your name sounds familiar….may I ask who you work for?