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The Most Effective Single Sheet of Paper in Marketing Is...
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By Jeffrey Dobkin

So the last couple of articles youīve heard me gripe about how you should send more letters. Yip yip yip yip yip. Send more letters, send more letters. I sound like your mother when she told you not to get that tattoo, donīt I? And youīre still sorry you got it, arenīt you?

Well, hereīs the reason: letters are great marketing tools. You can reach anyone with a letter - the president of a bank or of an airline, a top executive of almost any corporation, or the purchasing agent who buys your goods or services. While prospecting for new business, Iīll admit that giving customers a new car carries considerably more weight, but in most cases a simple letter works just fine for making the phone ring.

I consistently and respectfully remind my own clients of the value of the printed word when sent - one page at a time - to a specific prospect or customer. But do they listen? If a tree falls in the forest does anyone care?

A letter is the most effective single sheet of paper in direct marketing, but it is not the most effective single sheet of paper in all of marketing. That, my friend, would be a hundred dollar bill. Ooops, excuse me, thatīs the most important single sheet of paper when you get pulled over by a cop for speeding.

In marketing, the most important single page you can create is... is... Iīm building suspense... is... a press release. If you knew that, kindly raise your right hand. Hey, you in the back - raise your other right hand. Now, if you send a press release out every two months, raise your left hand. Have both of your hands raised high in the air? OK, now gimme all your money, this is a stick-up.

If you donīt have both your hands raised, take note: youīre making a big mistake, unless of course you donīt want any more money. So, youīre maxed out - running your business three or four shifts a day? I know the feeling - itīs rough, isnīt it - trying to spend all that extra money to avoid all those additional taxes. If this is the case, you shouldnīt be sending out press releases every couple of months, you should be sending some of that additional money to me.

As a marketing guy, I feel everyone can use more business - at least thatīs why people call me. And when they do I tell them they need to send out more letters... and more press releases. There - I saved you a ton of money. Just send me $500 and Iīll wave the rest of my invoice for now. Press releases and letter campaigns are two of the lowest cost ways to promote any business.

For the price of a couple of sheets of paper - a press release and a cover letter - you can generate a story about your firm that will be published in newspapers and magazines. Itīs easy, at least in theory.

For the price of a couple of beers - your wife and a good, ahem, woman friend, you can generate a story about you that will be published in newspapers and magazines, too. It would be in a different section. But, weīll save that for another article.

A press release is a one-page, double spaced document about you, your firm, its products or services, with a compelling headline and a story written in a brief, pyramid-style (the important stuff at the top) news format.

When writing a press release, start with the MOST important element as the headline. Hereīs where I differ from most PR agencies: strangely enough I recommend that in the first two lines of your body copy you weave in one or two of the biggest benefits of your products, or of doing business with your firm. People buy from the benefits, so itīs important to show readers what yourīs are. Stating your benefits this early in the release ensures they wonīt get edited out: editors traditionally cut from the bottom of the release. Immediately after the benefits, present the rest of the facts in their descending order of relevance. I call this the "benefits-first" press release.

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