Rain pitter-pattered against the massive bay windows of Nola's midtown office building. Poring over bills and expense reports, Nola wondered about the future of her new consultancy.
Can't believe we're in the red again, sixth month in a row. I've got to do something, or we'll be out of business by spring.
As a small business owner, Nola was her own PR, marketing, and promotional director. She ran ads in newspapers and local yellow pages. She gave out flyers. She thought of standing on the corner in a sandwich board, but that would be too humiliating.
Nola didn't want to invest in a good advertising firm. She could have made some cutbacks in other areas to allow for hiring an in-house rep, but in her mind, there was always
always somebody willing to work for cheap.
I need a marketing whiz or a computer whiz. I need some kind of whiz to help me find a new approach to advertising. I've got to know somebody who'll do it for free
And then she remembered.
She tripped over the stacks of books and papers that cluttered her office floor. "Phone! Where's my phone? You. You there--" Her finger pointed toward a man hunched over a little adding machine. Stress always made her brain freeze.
Rick, from accounting, looked up over the top of his glasses and answered wryly. "It's on the printer."
Nola snatched up her out-of-style cellphone and dialed Jeff. Who was Jeff? Only the most media savvy, techno-geek she knew. He also happened to be her fourteen-year-old nephew.
"Ad mail, Auntie. That's the way to go. Ad mail, pop-ups, malware, e-zines
any number of options will work for you. I don't need to hack anything. I just need your client e-mail list to get started."
Nola headed over to Jeff's house at close of business and eagerly handed over the information. This is so much more convenient
won't cost the firm a dime!
Oh, no! This can't be happening!
Nola's e-mail inbox was full. Horrified, she watched as the number of unopened messages increased from 20 to over 1,000, and climbing. She couldn't stop it. The word "loading" flashed at the bottom of the screen. Within 20 minutes, it had reached 3,596 messages. The computer was frozen. She had to reboot.
To make matters worse, she had gotten a virus on her machine. Her fingers fumbled as she dialed Jeff. "Voicemail!" She paced back and forth, blood pressure rising.
"All these e-mails say the same thing! They're all my e-mails. They were supposed to go out to the customers, not come back here!"
Rick looked over his glasses again and whispered to Margie, who stood nearby. "She should have hired a firm
but what do I know, right? I just crunch numbers." He rolled his eyes and logged into his e-mail account, only to find the exact same problem. In fact, the office server was shutting down
Nola closed her office door.
Maybe I should have prayed about this more. I needed Your wisdom, and never stopped to request it. Please give me grace to handle the fallout
The front door opened, and two well-dressed gentlemen strolled in. "Hi! We're here about the new deal you're offering. Is there a manager we can speak to?"
"Deal?" Nola brushed her hair down quickly and shook their hands.
"Yes. When we saw your e-mail ad, we knew your firm was exactly what we needed. So we came to check out the shop in person."
"Oh, yes. Certainly. I'm surprised it wasnt deleted accidentally."
"It almost was," one gentleman offered, "but the graphics caught my eye, so I read on."
Nola finished signing on her new clients and breathed a sigh of relief. Behind her, Rick scrambled to find an IT person to come in on short notice.
At least it wasn't a total loss. I know one thing
you get what you pay for. Nothing worthwhile is free.
After work, Nola headed over to her sister's place to see Jeff.
"What happened? I specifically asked you what the damage might be, and you gave me no indication that a mass e-mail could backfire like this."
Jeff was irked by his aunt's expectations. "I'm fourteen. It's not like I guaranteed professionalism."
Nola threw her head back and laughed until tears came. "You're right, Jeff. It was my fault. Some things are just worth the investment."
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