Dressing down or dressing up? #BNBT
Carved a niche? Be careful about moving your goalposts!

Pay attention to get attention

Today the local postman delivered a large envelop, that is one thing to get my attention.


The address was hand-written - now that always gets my attention
(although I never write the address on envelopes we mail out, I couldn't bare to waste any postman's time trying to figure out what on earth has been written down - I know, I have a terrible hand)

Therefore it was the first envelop to be opened. Inside I found two leaflets (A4 and double A4): new products and trade price list of the new products. Plus one letter.

"Dear Sir / Madam

I am writing to thank you for your continued business and support in these very difficult times and....."

Now they'd lost my attention.

Cold leads, prospects, clients and returning clients

Trouble is, I don't know the business sending me the handwritten large white envelop with shiny A4 leaflets inside. In fact, I've not even heard of them, let alone am continuing to do business with them.

If I had been a returning client - as the wording "continued business" would indicate - the writer would have known my name and tittle to address the letter to me personally - which always gets my attention (after I check if they wrote my name correctly and not changed it into Karen - or Caroline as frequently happens too)
If I had been a client (having made a first purchase) the wording continued business would not be appropriate - and they would have known my name to address me personally.
If I had been a prospect, see above.

As cold-lead, I'm the last person to deserve the thanks the writer is expressing.

So instead of turning the first sentence of the letter into a feeling of being seen as a valued contact - as no doubt the writer's intention was, it put me off completely and I binned the lot, shiny leaflets and all.

Now there is nothing wrong with trying to rake in new business in "these very difficult times", we all do it in various ways. It only works much better if the letter, the wording, the content is appropriate for the reader in question. Explaining all the benefits of doing business with us to a long standing client would definitely get me on the wrong side of my valued client - they already know. Thanking a cold lead for their continued business.... you get the picture.

Have you divided your contact database into specific groups


Every business is able to create a database, be it through the most elaborate software or a simple spreadsheet. It is quite easy to divide your database of contacts into specific groups:

  • leads (cold leads)
  • prospects (warm leads)
  • clients
  • returning clients

Writing two (leads and clients) or four (to each group individual) letters does not take much more effort than writing one "trying to catch all" letter and wasting precious materials (envelop, leaflets, postage). At least you won't aggravate the very people who's attention you are trying to get.

When's the last time you checked your database?



Very good observation about the hand written envelope, they always get my attention as well, 'who could this be from'.

I like the idea of dividing the database as you've suggested and then having 3 or 4 different format letters/e-mails etc.

Dave Blakeman

Well said! Years ago when I first started our business we didn't even have a formal customer list, and I suspect that this is true of many start-ups. When someone asked the question "who are your customers?" I was seriously embarrassed (and fixed it quick!)

I think this is a great example of someone copying a tactic (handwritten envelopes) with no understanding about the background (people appreciate REAL personal attention, but it needs to be done consistently).

Also, the costs of doing this properly mean that it's probably worth pre-qualifying the leads (maybe by phone first) before sending the mailing. Then the letter could say "Dear Karin, I know we've never met, but after we spoke on the phone the other day....". Now THAT would be something novel...

Karin H.

Hi Mark

In my experience it does not take longer to write two separate letters than it takes to write one. Most often it is just one or two paragraphs that needs to be different, the main body - the new product, the new service, special offer etc - is the same.

Thanks for dropping by.

Karin H.

Hi Dave

That's the impression I got too: they seemed to have picked up a trick or two without understanding the complete picture.

And your example is great, the approach of referring back to an actual conversation - however short - would definitely get my attention.

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