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By Rick Crandall

Marketing should be as natural as breathing, but it often comes across as artificial and phony. To build a relationship between your company and customers, you have to feel comfortable reaching out to people (marketing). This can make them more comfortable in trusting you.

When People Like Sales Letters

We've actually received fan letters about one of our sales letters - and from lawyers of all people! Our most expensive product is a legal index of construction cases (Construction Claims Citator). Most subscribers are lawyers, although a few cities, Supreme Courts, and contractors subscribe, too.

We call or write lawyers who are interested in construction issues and ask if they're interested enough in following cases nationally to spend $350/year on a research tool. If someone expresses interest, we send them a sample with a four-page sales letter telling them why this product is so wonderful. All sales efforts say how good you are. In the case of a letter, you have to do it right there - you can't talk back and forth.

It was in response to our four-page sales letter that we received "fan" letters. The best one wasn't just a note. It was fully typed on office stationery listing all 40 attorneys. We had recently revised
our letter to include a new introduction emphasizing that we knew the newsletter was not for everyone.

When you receive a sales letter, you expect a lot of hype and are preparing yourself to be skeptical. We were also trying to break through that skepticism that busy people have when they read a sales letter.

Anti-Hype Approach

Here is the key section that forms the reader's first impression and tries to get them to read further (where we say why we are valuable):

"We don't want to waste your time or ours. Less than 10% of the
people we send this letter to will subscribe to the Citator, even
though you've all been called by phone to confirm your interest.
The Citator is a boring research tool. Fortunately, it is also the
best at what it does."

Here is part of the attorney's response.

"I just had to write to you and thank you for sending me an honest
and candid cover letter about your publication. The public relations
nonsense that we are bombarded with makes me sick. Your refreshingly
honest letter prompted me to circulate your publication, rather than
throw it away like I do most of the other solicitations we receive.
Thank you again."

Improve Your Credibility

This story suggests that you may be able to use some "negative" selling - be blunt about what you can't do as well as what you can do. What company isn't out there saying they're the best? Disarm people. Tell them what you can't do. Then say why they should work with you.

People are prepared to ignore nice things you say about yourself. Honesty can crack their defenses because it breaks through their expectations (humor can have a similar effect). If you can make them think of you as a person who might be worth talking to, or who has some interest in them, you have a good start on a relationship.



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