Less than a decade ago, shortly after the desktop facsimile machine first sprang from the creative minds of the business equipment industry, the machine, in turn, spawned the funny fax cover sheet, that groaningly pun-laden page heralding the important information that followed. Seemingly, about a million people all bolted up in bed one night with the belief that they had divined the perfect cover-sheet pun of all time: "Just the fax, ma'am."
Then along came punning first cousins of that idea, like "Fax a lot," "Fax for the memories" and more. You could even buy a pad of funny fax cover sheets at the office supply store to lead your faxes off with a nudge and a ha-ha-ha.
Then, predictably, like the fate of the humorous answering machine message, funny fax cover sheets faded into semioblivion, to be replaced by a plain-Jane sheet simply called the fax cover sheet, a form that provided just the facts, ma'am.
That said, the question that still smoldered in the hearts of many was this: Is there another evolutionary stage in store for the fax cover sheet? Must it remain a plain-vanilla addressing element, or can it play a larger role in promoting your business?
Reader Regenia Clark, who recently wrote, thinks it's the latter. She and her husband, Jack, operate M.G.R.-Homecare Inc., a Griffin, Georgia, provider of respiratory and infusion therapy services and equipment for homebound patients in rural areas of their state. The Clarks recently started providing their referral sources (physicians and hospitals) with a fax cover sheet that gives their sources a convenient way to jot down some basic information about the referred patient and then attach data from the patient's chart on specific requirements.
The Clarks hope this new sheet translates into a major convenience for referrers since the previous method required a 15- to 20-minute phone conversation to relay the same in-formation. However, the Clarks believe-and I agree-that their modified fax cover sheet can be tweaked in some way to better promote M.G.R.-Homecare to its referrers.
Jerry Fisher is a freelance advertising copywriter and welcomes submissions to this column, although he regrets he cannot answer each individually. For more information on his new manual, Creating Successful Small Business Advertising, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to "Advertising Workshop," Entrepreneur, 2392 Morse Ave., Irvine, CA 92714. Or contact Jerry via CompuServe at 73150,132 or America Online at Jerry 228.