Never start marketing messages with trite pleasantries

In the past, I’ve written about ways of structuring letters, emails, and marketing collateral. There’s a really simple formula that has stood the tests of time.

If you follow this approach then you needn’t worry about falling foul of this crass error.

Sadly, though, many people don’t think about their message from the perspective of their reader. I just received this email, which was clearly sent to me as one recipient of a personalised mass mailshot.

Dear Graham,

I hope all is well with you.

I thought you might be interested to see our feature in this week’s XXXX, focussing on my work with YYYY (link below).

I look forward to catching up in due course.


There are several things wrong with this. Starting every sentence with “I” either suggests a very limited imagination, an unconstrained “id” or, worse, someone with sociopathic or narcissistic tendencies. But that isn’t what I want to pick up on here.

His ‘attention’ line – the thing that I am supposed to remember for the longest time – that is supposed to capture my attention ready for the rest of the message…. It is what I would describe as a trite pleasantry; “I hope all is well with you.”

Those of you who know me will be well aware of why “all” is NOT well with me right now. My criticisms of the message would apply regardless – it is appallingly badly composed.

This dire start is compounded by the close – the element that is supposed to lead me to want to actually do something… It is also a trite pleasantry; “I look forward to catching up in due course.”

Precisely what “due course” represents in this context I have no idea, but I’m pretty sure that he has absolutely no interest in “catching up” unless I call him to introduce some prospective new client.

So, how could he have written this simple message differently? Here’s my effort:

Dear Graham

An article has just appeared in XXXX, which very generously describes the work that my team and I have been doing with YYYY.

If you get the chance to read it, I hope that you’ll find it of interest.

We always enjoy catching up with colleagues around the world, and if you find yourself in London or Portsmouth, with a little time to spare, I would love to share a tea or coffee and find out more about the work that you are doing as well.

With kind regards…

There are far stronger calls to action, but this is a tickler message so there’s probably no need to be more assertive.

With best wishes

One Comment

  1. Very good, Graham – thanks.

    I’ve copied and pasted your exemplar into an Evernote note for future reference!


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