Put Your John Hancock Here

Twitter version: To help your email recipients get back to you as quickly as possible, add a signature to your messages.

One complaint I often hear is this: “I’ve received this email message and I want to just pick up the phone and call, but there is no contact information here!” The solution is obvious and fairly easy to implement. You simply include a signature at the end of your message. To be clear, to create this solution for the recipient is simple for the sender. We will discuss Outlook here, but if you need to work with signatures on a Mac, just search: “apple mail signature file” to find pages that will walk you through what you need to do. Or, just search “email signature file” and you’ll get a lot more information on how to use these things.

In Microsoft Outlook, depending on the version you are using, the instructions will be something like this. In MS Office Outlook 201o, click on New Email and then click the Insert tab at the top of the ribbon. Under Signature, you’ll find a drop down menu and there you select, Signatures, to get started. Click New and name your signature file. This suggests further use of this feature, which I’ll cover later. For now, just type a name and hit enter. Not much will change in the window, but the name of the Sig file will be in the top left window pane. Click in the lower window pane and let the artist in you begin this creative exercise.

I could go into many of the options available to you here, but I would rather cover the basics of a sig file. For instance, one of my signatures has this information:

Brian Rouley
http://www.mousehelp.com
brian@mousehelp.com
(760) 902-5898

Yes, I am changing my company name to MouseHelp, but that is an entirely different subject. The point here is to observe the simplicity of name, email address and phone number. In my case you may have a company name and perhaps some catchphrase or slogan that supports your identity. For me, less is more, as I simply want you to go to my website, send email or call me and all of those options are presented with that signature. Enough said? Maybe not.

Earlier I alluded to the idea that you can use these things for more than one purpose. As an example, let’s say that I want to advise my senders on the virtues of having a signature file in their email messages. I might create another sig file that includes those basic elements, but adds a paragraph:

Brian Rouley
http://www.mousehelp.com
brian@mousehelp.com
(760) 902-5898

To help your email recipients get
back to you as quickly as possible,
add a signature to your messages.
http://wp.me/pRzRw-1i

In Outlook, I can choose which signature goes on each email, so adding this second paragraph to a second sig file allows me to encourage my senders and lead by example with my own signature. Pedantic, yes – self-serving, too, but if you want to be a crusader for change, start with your circle of influence, I say. I’m sure you can think of a number of other uses for lines of information you use often and each of those could constitute a sig file to be used where appropriate. Let your imagination work on this for a few moments and you’ll probably come up with a handful of custom sig files you can apply to any situation.

That’s all I’m going to say on this topic, except to say that you’ll have to find the signature feature and how to make it work for you in whatever email client software you use. Even Gmail and other online services provide this facility. Learn to use it and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Email is still a “killer app”, but blogging is quickly becoming the best way to get the word out to more people. It’s the difference between push and pull. Go figure. For me, I’ll be sending emails to my client base, pushing out information about information they can pull from my blog. Take care and as always, enjoy!