AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising

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Mistakes Happen

Yes, in the communications business, mistakes happen: typos, inadvertent images attached, wrong files sent to printers, posts sent prematurely. It goes on and on.

This email surprised me because in some ways it looks normal. Lorem ipsum ectu veritas is a common language of designers. “Lorem ipsum” is placeholder text used to show how a font or copy block will look in a design. We call it greeking in text. It is from “a corrupted version of De finibus bonorum et malorum, a first-century BC text by the Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero, with words altered, added and removed to make it nonsensical, improper Latin,” according to Wikipedia.

Lorem ipsum has been used in typesetting since the 1960s, when it was used in ads for Letraset dry transfer sheets and a burnisher. Yes, I’ve transferred lettering by hand on a design board.  

Yet with all this modern digital typesetting, how does a large company send a template email to everyone who has used its services? Easy, the click of a button.

The problem is never the mistake, but how you handle it. I’m still waiting for VRBO to own up to the error and apologize. We call this the “typo terrorist,” and that terrorist robs your credibility and public trust. However, in this case, it was a nostalgic look back at lorem ipsum and the good ol’ days in college of hand-crafted kerning and leading exercises (not to mention waxers and Rubylith) with Letraset dry transfer letters.


VRBO did respond and owned up to the mistake. And with a nice twist, they stuck the landing.

Written by:

Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.