I recently returned from speaking in the Far East to an in-box of several hundred e-mails.
Many hoped to interest me in their services. Almost all had one major drawback; they were far too long.
There is a saying attributed to many, including Mark Twain: “I am sorry to write you a long letter, I did not have time to send a short one.” We all send too many e-mails and most of them are far too verbose. The attention span of a potential customer is very short, so you need to convey a very simple message with a clear call to action.
A common mistake is to attempt to convey complex philosophies, deep emotions or humour in an e-mail; this can go horribly wrong. It is very important to realise that e-mail is a very inefficient form of communication for anything other than basic facts. It should always ask a very obvious question designed to elicit a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
When used correctly, e-mail can be very effective and take the misery out of making appointments with customers — a particular problem as most business prospects now hide behind voice-mail.
‘Mike’s Magic E-Mail’ is only four lines long, and has the first benefit of applying discipline to the writer, including basic marketing to define first precisely who it is you are targeting and exactly what it is you are trying to sell them.
You need to convey a very simple message with a clear call to action
Start by looking at your existing happy customers, studying their profile, including company type, location and size. Then go out and assemble a good set of target companies similar to your favourite customers. Then employ a telemarketing company to secure the right contact names and e-mail addresses at these companies. Finally you have to employ the gifts and discipline of Mark Twain to write these people an e-mail that is only four lines long.
The first line should address the pain, problem or challenge that the customer faces, based on your research or market knowledge. Sometimes you have little information on a particular prospect, but a visit to the ‘news’ or ‘press’ pages of their website will generate some ideas.
The second line explains the premise of your business: how you plan to help them with their pain. It is important to be specific here, avoiding slogans or by-lines generated by your marketing agency. You may indeed be achieving ‘vorsprung durch technik’, but you actually need to explain here that you provide reliable and cost-effective cars.
In the third line you back up the bold claim in your premise. The best proof is always an example customer. You should have a one-line customer endorsement backed up by a web link to a full case study on your website.
The fourth and final line is your call to action. Be bold: request a 15-minute meeting on a specific date, as you ‘happen to be in the area’ (as salespeople often mysteriously are).
So if your ambition is to be featured in this column, your ‘Magic E-Mail’ might read:
“Dear Mike, I see you are interested in meeting interesting people who might have useful learning points for your readers. We represent Jane Smith, one of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs. She has successfully grown her business in a recession using simple but very effective sales techniques. Are you free at 10am on Tuesday 28th to meet her over a coffee?”
Now that sounds interesting!
A free downloadable PDF of my Magic E-mail can be found at:
If you want to learn more about this, plus other easy ways to increase your leads and sales, come to my next sales class on Tuesday September 23rd in London. More info at: