Maybe you’re just an idiot.
Maybe I’m an idiot and this is OK with some people.
Who cares. I will hop on the bus of batshit crazy and say it: you can shove your form letter straight up your ass.
Every now and then, I lose my goddamned mind and think, “Hey — I’m kind of a recluse. I’ll try the online dating thing again and see what’s out there!” Nevermind that my previous forays into the world of online dating have enjoyed a success that rivals none. From being berated for eating a slice of cake to being accosted by careless slingers of the English language and drenched in the backsplash of those who have peed in the dating pool, it’s obvious I can’t get enough of the petri dish “let’s see what crops up” online dating shenanigans. I did, however, have a mostly brilliant 3-year relationship with the guy who told me (rightfully so) that my ass looked like a rectangle — all thanks to Matchmaker.com from 2002-2005.
But like him, aren’t you and I both looking for the exception — both in business and in our personal relationships? Nobody wants to get on the bus with The Rule. The norm. The usual, everyday pile of mediocre.
The search for The Exception got me thinking about some stupid shit you’re doing with your business.
Which is sending form letters.
Let me ask you a question…
Did you ever give anyone your business (or even a random chuckle or flip of your hair) because they made you feel…anonymous? Insignificant? Unremarkable? Plain? Unworthy?
The answer is no. You didn’t, you haven’t, and you won’t. Because you have a pair of balls, breasts (maybe both — not judging), and a brain and you know that you deserve better than that.
My experience shopping for sex toys is more personal than the form letters some guys send me on Match.com. Christ, at least EdenFantasys understands personalized recommendations and offers discretion and a rewards system. Guys and gals alike — if you don’t want to be replaced with automation — in both the bedroom and in your business, it’s time to ditch the automated sales pitches. Some examples to prove my point:
None of these make me feel…special. Or inspired. Two things critical when you’re looking to spark a conversation that could lead to a relationship.
A little analogy…
When I get up at the metric ass crack of dawn to haul myself to a spin class, measure out portions of chicken tits on a food scale like they’re gold bullion, and feel super squeeeeeeeeeee when I look all slinky in a little number I picked up at BCBG MaxAzria, it would be nice if you noticed. A simple compliment can make me melt. My head turn. My eye twinkle.
But I can smell bullshit from a mile away.
Isn’t it the same with your business? It’s your baby. You’ve raised it since birth and you bust ass to make sure it fits into the business equivalent of a pair of skinny jeans or that rad button-down that makes the ladies swoon. And you want people to notice what’s special about what you’re doing.
You want people to notice, not hand you a line of bullshit. Form letters, dear friends, are bullshit. When all you have to do is rock a cut-and-paste and hit print or send, you’re essentially sending out insults in bulk. Hell, even Ann Coulter handcrafts her insults. So quit it with lazy and start looking for ways to make your message — and you — shine.
So let’s fix this shit.
Maybe you think I’m a raving twatmonger for laying into the digital gents on the dating web. Fine. You’re not my target demographic. But maybe you think I’m on to something. Maybe it’s time that you upped your communications game and started writing words that garner the results you want from the people you most want to give you those results. If you’re game and ready to fix this shit, let’s go.
Holy shit, I need to contact someone about something. Where do I start?
Easy there, Padawan learner. Don’t blow your Fritos just because you want to put your fine face in front of someone else’s. Start simple and ask: what is it that attracted me to this person or business? Make a little list. Whether it’s the way they arrange their collectible Star Wars figurines on that shelf in the picture where he’s standing by the Christmas tree or that you’ve been reading their blog forever and it’s the number one resource you recommend to clients who need a solid e-marketing strategy — these things are personal. And attractive. And they’ll earn you a whip-around of the proverbial pretty girl’s head when you use them properly.
Fine! I’ll write the letter/email. But I’d really rather just write one and copy and paste. Can I do that? It’s just dating/business/a communications transaction.
I will Tanya Harding you quicker than Tanya Harding. Building relationships is not a transactional activity. So yeah, it’s going to require a little work. Why? Because I want you to imagine yourself on the other side of this courtship. Would you want to feel as if you were being lumped in with every other guy/girl/web development firm/life coach/consultant/PR agency/journalist on the planet? Again, no, you wouldn’t. So take those things that you found attractive above and let’s build a communication with them.
OMFGBBQ I CANNOT WRITE I HATE YOU, ERIKA. I CAN’T DO THIS.
Please — get the Fritos under control once again. You can. And you don’t have to be motherfucking Shakespeare, either. Here’s a simple formula.
Why you love them. What you’re asking for. Personalized exit.
[Gratitude or frivolity as the case might demand]
In reality, it’s as simple as this.
Your blog post back in October titled, “Six Ways You’re Screwing Yourself With Email Marketing” prompted me to make a fundamental shift in my own email campaigns and I wanted to thank you. I’d like to profile on my blog so I can further introduce you to my small, but growing readership. Would you have time in the next few weeks for a brief interview call?
Thank you (from both myself and my email marketing campaign),
I really like your smile in that picture of you with your parents in Venice. If you’d be interested in smiling at one another over coffee or a drink sometime, let me know.
Thanks for a great smile~
***please stop using your birth year in your usernames. Everywhere. Please.
I’ve been a long-time follower of your stories. In fact, the first one I recall reading was your piece on X, which I promptly shared to all of my colleagues because I loved your take on why X was the cause of Y — you prompted quite a few thumbs on my Facebook wall that day.
Given your interest in X over time, I wanted to drop a bug in your ear about a client of mine, XRYX. In short, they’re the [nifty tagline] and they’re prepping to launch [cool shit]. I have no doubt you’d have a rollicking conversation with the CEO [Name] and if I might make that introduction, let me know. I can also direct you to their press page and send a draft release for your review, but since I hand craft each email I send to journalists, I don’t want to weigh this down with pitches, attachments, and links.
I appreciate your time, and more importantly, your writing. I look forward to hearing from you!
Seriously? This shit works?
The the messages above took me a whopping 8 minutes to craft. All three of them. Total. And that’s not because I’m a writer. It’s because I knew what I wanted to get our of the communication (and it wasn’t the delete button or Circular File).
But a message should have two goals and two goals only in any sort of sales process, whether selling yourself or your services: (1) To make the recipient feel appreciated, recognized, and worthy, and (2) Inspire them to respond. Form letters do neither.
So if you’re single in the dating world or a businessperson yearning to do kickass work for kickass people, you have to make the people you’re approaching feel appreciated, recognized, and worthy and…inspired.
Because why would any of us do any kind of business, sexy or otherwise, with anyone they found uninspiring?
So fuck your form letters — you heard me. If I want automation, I’ll get what I need from Google or an online purveyor of toys for my naughty bits.
But if you want to attract a more ideal match in both your personal and business lives, be inspiring. Be personal. And take a whopping 8 minutes to say what you mean and feel. You might never (and probably won’t ever) get a second chance.
You’ve been slapped…and here endeth the lesson.
PS: And you can avoid the, “Hey Erika, maybe blog posts like this are why you’re still single” comments below. Because if you’re not offended by form letters and think being personal ain’t the ticket — you’re not my target demographic (in my personal life or in business).