Start – and finish – with the reader

I’ve written before about sales and marketing collateral which is all ‘me, me, me’. Just ensuring that what you write about focuses on the ‘you’ will give your message an advantage over much of the competition, who just don’t get this. Half of the sales emails in everyone’s inbox will be about the sender, and what they’ve got, rather than about the recipient, and what they might need. Big mistake!

However, even among those people who understand this principle, there can be a tendency to be embarrassed about it. So instead of just saying: “You need this, and here’s how you can get it!”, they end up apologising for themselves (‘me, me, me’ again) before getting to the point. Again, big mistake. You have a couple of seconds to grab the reader’s attention. If all they see in that time is your apologetic introduction, they’ll assume the rest of the email is also about you, and move on. So get to the point.

One good way of doing this is to craft an SMS message or Tweet (i.e. 140 characters) which summarises what readers will get out of reading your email. Then use that as the basis of your opening sentence.