03 Writing To Strangers

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.  

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