... and this week’s BOLA
(Bad Opening Line Award) goes to ...
... United Healthcare.
Their direct mail package arrived today. Here is how their would-be sales letter begins:
It’s a big responsibility, running a business. Employees look to you for guidance and decisions. When they have a question ....
Folks, there are many ways to open a sales letter that don’t involve boring your reader. You can offer a benefit (“Here’s an easy way to...”), pique curiosity (“I admit I never saw it coming...”), share news (“Doctors at the Mayo Clinic recently discovered...”), win a nod of agreement (“Ever notice that...”).
But don’t patronize.
Don’t waste time.
And for heaven’s sake don’t bore.
If you enclose a reply card, good for you. But here’s a tip: unlike United Healthcare, print the darned thing on uncoated paper. You know, so people can write on it. And so the ink won’t smear. Or come off on their sleeve.
A free offer is always a good idea, though they could have done better than the obviously self-serving, “10 Tips to Help You Choose the Best Health Insurance Plan for Your Business.” (“Gee,” thought no prospect, “I wonder if the 10 tips will make United Healthcare come out looking good or bad.”) Here is a possible improvement: 10 Inside Tips Most Health Insurance Companies Don’t Want You to Know. Better yet, offer a gift. For instance, a Starbucks latte. Anyone who responds for the publication will likely be a good, qualified lead; but a gift will likely attract, besides people who just want the coffee, a greater number of qualified leads than the information offer will.
Now it’s my turn to be utterly self-serving. They should have hired us.