My piano has its way
We doesn’t write letters
Dear Results-Oriented Marketer:
When you send out a sales letter or email, you’re not fooling anyone. Readers know it’s an ad in letter form. But if you write it properly, it will feel personal. Do that, and many readers will suspend their disbelief long enough to hear you out.
The trick is not to break the spell. Here are some common spell-breaking mistakes to avoid:
1. “We.” We doesn’t write letters. I does. Use first person singular when referring to yourself: “I am writing you because,” “I thought you might be interested in,” “I urge you to consider,” etc. Do NOT say, “We are writing because,” and for heaven’s sake do NOT NOT NOT say, “For over 50 years, we at XYZ Company are proud of ...” (No one cares what you’re proud of.) Bonus tip: Address the reader as “you,” not “the reader” or “the customer.”
2. No greeting. “Dear ...” says “this is a letter.” Use the customer’s name when possible and worth the expense. If not, use something generic. Don’t be afraid of “Dear Friend,” “Dear Concerned Citizen,” “Dear Neighbor,” or whatever. I won’t say they’re not corny. I’ll only say that they work better than your intuition tells you.
3. No signature. Put a hand signature at the bottom, over your printed name. If your signature is illegible, or if you don’t want your real signature in circulation, create a substitute. My real signature is a scribble, so I use the one below. Black ink or toner is OK, as are some other colors, but blue is best. Avoid red. Bonus tip: Readers like to know who is writing, so they usually look at the signature first. If you put a P.S. under the signature and job title, most people will read it since their eyes are already in the vicinity. Write the P.S. correctly, and you will increase the odds that they will read the body of the letter.
4. More than one signature. Using two or more signatures says “we.” And we, you may recall, doesn’t write letters.
5. Scary job title. Your title gives you weight. But some titles, like “Director of Marketing,” “Sales Manager,” and “Customer Relations,” put readers on their guard. If you’re the Vice President of Sales and Marketing, just put “Vice President.” If you’re not a VP, come up with something non-scary but suitably impressive.
6. Writing it yourself. There’s a reason people like me can make a living writing sales letters. Due respect, but if you write like most clients I’ve known — or even most ad writers, since sales letters are a different animal — it would probably be worth your money to hire a direct marketing pro.
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