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:
||They're hard to write. They take brain power. They take time.
||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.