Icon Key
Bookmark and Share


About Cover Letters

03 Writing To Strangers

Print View |  Bookmark & Share  |  Comment |   |  Back to List |  << Previous Next >>

After you've mailed to your friends and business acquaintances, you'll be mailing to strangers, and that's a much tougher sell. To many of them, you're just a number, an interruption, a salesperson.

In trying to reach outsiders, you have a lot of competition. You'll find commercial television and cable channels, radio stations, metropolitan dailies, national media, billboards, and ads on shopping carts all vying for attention.

Nationally, we spend $68 billion a year on advertising (more than $800 per household). Network television features 600 commercials per day. There are at least 1,500 advertising messages sent directly to you. That's a lot of hype.

During a recent recession in Denver, the Colorado Association of Realtors spent $250,000 to promote only three words: Take Another Look. (Meaning, the real estate market may be better than you think.)

When you market or advertise yourself (that is, when you try to find a job), you're competing for attention with well-capitalized corporations. So you and your message may easily get lost.
The only marketing lesson you'll ever need
Right after college I had a "marketing lesson" I've never forgotten; it has shaped much of my business success. Here's what happened: I decided to teach a personal growth workshop, printed several hundred flyers, and passed them out like handbills.

After about an hour of walking, I faced a dilemma: should I continue putting out flyers or go home to answer the phone? I knew it would be ringing off the hook.

When I couldn't wait any longer, I raced home, and guess what? The phone never rang. Not even once. I call that my "Marketing 101" lesson: customers (employers) don't really care about our great stuff and nifty ideas. They're busy people. In marketing—the job-hunt—we have to grab their attention before someone else does.
Drawbacks to letter writing
A well-written letter can break through the "communications jungle" and lead to interviews, but there are definite pros and cons to writing sales and marketing letters. Here are just a few: 

                    Plus...                                       Minus...                   
They're fast. They're hard to write. They take brain power. They take time. 
They're personal. A letter must be extremely well-written or it will fail.
They take less guts than a cold call. They're somewhat costly (versus the telephone and e-mail, which are virtually free).
 Once you have a letter that works, you can send it out hundreds of times and multiply your efforts enormously.  A bad marketing letter can make you look like a real loser or an egomaniac and, therefore, blow your future chances.
 The letter can be selling while you are doing something else. If you send a poor marketing letter and don't get any response, it can be quite depressing.
 If you write a good letter, you may be perceived by the recipient as extremely creative.  The average letter gets between three and ten seconds of attention on the way to the trash can. (How fast do you open your own mail?)
A well-written letter always gets responses.  

Print View |  Bookmark & Share  |  Comment |   |  Back to List |  << Previous Next >>


Add a Comment
Your rating:
Your URL:
Your e-mail:
Enter security code:
 Security code
(please enter the
numbers on the image)

William S. Frank, M.A.,
25 Reasons I love consulting.
by William S. Frank
  1. Brand. You are your own brand, and you can define it any way you want. For many years, I provided outplacement to the ex-employees of Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield service corporation. When departing employees left the company, they didn't request outplacement in their severance package. They said, "I want Bill Frank."
  2. Demand. The world will always be full of terrible problems that need solving.
  3. White Hat. I can be a helper and get paid for it.
  4. Pay. I can be paid to do things I'd gladly do for nothing.
  5. Variety. Every day is different.
  6. Happiness. At this stage of my career, I only work for people I respect and care about. If a client micromanages me or is otherwise no fun, I complete the assignment and replace them.
  7. Talent. I'm using 110% of my talents and stretching myself to the max.
  8. Change. I can change my focus any day I want. If you're a McDonald's franchisee, you don't say, "Hey, I've got this great idea for a meatball sandwich—let's try it out today." In consulting you can adjust your focus hour-by-hour, as long as your clients still understand and appreciate what you do.
  9. Income. No one else would pay me as much as I pay myself.
  10. FUN. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.
  11. Retirement. I can write and consult as long as I am physically and mentally capable. Peter Drucker worked into his 90s, and when asked which book was his best, he said: "My next one."
  12. Job Security. Although clients come and go, no one can come into my office and say, "Pack up your stuff . . . You don't work here anymore." In 29 years, I've only had one employer: ME.
  13. Travel. I don't have to travel unless I decide to. I travel if it's both FUN and profitable—or at least FUN.
  14. Commute. I live five minutes from my office, a corner office in an upscale six-story tower. In winter, I leave a heated garage at home and drive to an underground heated garage at work. There's seldom time to hear even one song on the radio.
  15. Vacation. Consulting is more fun than vacation (except on Wailea Beach in Maui).
  16. Friends. I have developed hundreds of close acquaintances and several lifetime friends.
  17. Time. I can work as much or as little as I like: four-hour days or 18-hour days. (Of course, my income will reflect that.)
  18. Employees. I can work with employees, subcontractors, partners, or alone—I've done it all.
  19. Passive Income. I've developed several products that provide "mailbox money." I earn while I'm sleeping.
  20. Ethics. I've never had to violate my values or personal code of ethics. I've never had to lie, purposely deceive or harm others, or promise things I can't deliver. I go to bed with a clear conscience. That doesn't mean there's never any conflict. But the conflict is conducted according to generally accepted business practices.
  21. Virtual. My career is fairly portable. With the Internet, e-mail, cell phone, and FedEx, I can work nationally, even internationally from my office—or anywhere in the world.
  22. Purpose. I make a difference in peoples' lives every day. I see it in their faces, hear it in their voices, and read it in their thank-yous.
  23. Experience. Every painful or joyful life experience makes me a better consultant. So does every person I meet or book I read. Grey hair can be good in consulting.
  24. Structure. I have to work very hard, and the clients expect superb results—but I get to structure my days, weeks, months, and years.
  25. Boss. Most of the time, I love my boss.
As I was posting these letters online, I realized I want to communicate my love for consulting. It's just a great business. The single letters, taken together, may create a picture of enjoyment, but in a burst of creativity I listed some of the reasons consulting is such a good fit for me—and perhaps for you, too. They are not prioritized; this is just how they came out.