Brace yourself for a surprise.
I—yes, I—have an ego.
Like any, mine is a sucker for flattery that is properly conceived and delivered.
Email and direct mail are great flattery delivery vehicles. A good writer can create the illusion of a personal communication even if in fact you have sent out millions.
But notice the “properly conceived” caveat. Don’t tell me I’m a person of integrity, that you know I won’t settle for second-best, that I have a certain je ne sais quoi, or that God made me just a little lower than the angels but quite a bit higher than other mortals. Such are gooey, banal generalities. Readers pass right over them.
The trick to making flattery fly is to use your targeting skills. Smart targeting is more than making a list of likely buyers. It’s knowing something about them, so you can infer something about what matters to them and talk with them about it—intelligently and credibly.
In other words, don’t try to manipulate with hollow words. Do your homework so that you can meet your reader eye-to-eye, and offer a compliment that is real.
I have two examples for you.
Example 1, an email from Target Marketing asking me to participate in a survey, showed up this morning. I rarely bother with online surveys. Most are poorly constructed bias-wise (as was this one), but it hooked me. How? The opening line of the survey said, “Pssst! We know you know your stuff. That’s why we’d like to pick your brain!”
Lest you dismiss those as hollow words, let me explain something about us direct marketers. We like to think we know stuff that our cousins in branding agencies don’t. We think we spend our clients’ money more responsibly. Yet branding is easier to sell to a client, it’s more fun to do, it wins awards you can polish and display in your office, your neighbors see your work and compliment you on it, and it makes your ad agency way more money. Thus not only do we think we know our stuff, we fancy ourselves martyrs of a sort. It may be baseless and delusional, but it’s how we see ourselves.
“We know you know your stuff” does more than hit the proverbial nail’s head. It massages backs sore from cross-bearing.
“Why, yes,” thought I, my chest perhaps swelling just a tad, “I do know my stuff. It’s about time someone finally recognized me for it. Bring on your survey, friend.”
Example 2 is a direct mail letter that arrived two years ago and turned me into a Free Inquiry subscriber. It was so good, it remains fresh in my mind. The post I wrote about it then is worth reading—click here.
After all, I know you’re the kind of person who appreciates good writing.