Two Kinds of E-Mail
Who was Shep? I don’t know anybody named Shep. What was his company? Where was his office? The letter was a pitch for me to give his client (of whom I had never heard either) some publicity.
But I had to read the entire letter to find out who Shep was and how to reach him. This information was buried in the body copy of the eighth and last paragraph.
Shep, if you are reading this, your letter did not look and feel like a letter. It was a bastard form—a cross between a scrawled e-mail note and a formal letter.
At the top of the page, you should have either used your letterhead or the following:
FROM: Shep Jones
Shep Jones Public Relations
City, State Zip
Phone * Fax
TO: Mr. Denny Hatch
310 Office Place Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Dear Denny (or Dear Mr. Hatch):
With this information as a reference point, Shep is no longer a stranger, but rather a real person with a real business who is contacting me from a real address. He is not some guy operating out of suitcase or paying by the hour at his local Internet café in Nigeria or Amsterdam.
And because Shep data-entered my name and address, it was obvious that he had something to say exclusively for me. Exclusivity is one of the seven key copy drivers—the emotional hot buttons that cause people to react. (The other six: fear – greed – guilt – anger – salvation – flattery.)
Further, I tend to lose stuff in my computer, so I tend to download those documents that I need to act on. With the letterhead—or “From/To” copy blocks—the correspondence has gravitas. It looks and feels like a letter and demands action.
When I come across it on my desk or in my file, it looks important and I will pay attention to it.