The Bitch Slap: Fuck You and the Form Letter You Rode In On

and the horse you rode in onMaybe I’m overreacting.

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:

 

Match message 3

Match message 2

Match message 1

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.

[Name]

Why you love them. What you’re asking for. Personalized exit.

[Gratitude or frivolity as the case might demand]

Your Name

In reality, it’s as simple as this.

Gloria~

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),

Bob

or this

MatchDude1972***~

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~

Susie

***please stop using your birth year in your usernames. Everywhere. Please.

or this

[Journalist name]~

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!

Erika

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).

41 comments
Jacqueline Diaz
Jacqueline Diaz

Love the part of form letters in online dating. You should have seen some of the bs and corniness (*eye roll) on eharmony. But that's a story for another day. You're definitely right though making things personal has brought me a lot of response. I think people deserve that because I deserve it. Dont waste my time and I wont waste yours...prob why I deleted my account on eharmony :) Great post. New here but heard you on blogcastfm and fell in love with your work. Life and great business lessons that I can apply and learn from. Thank you

Lou
Lou

I'll take a form letter over this creep-fest I got a few months ago: Lou, I have a dream. You are in that dream. In fact you are the star of the dream. You are the hero that allows me a chance to deliver the goods. Or at least to quote on opportunities. Thank you for your consideration. Alan /shudder

Pauline
Pauline

Thanks for starting my morning with a laugh! I receive a ton of those now that my blog is getting on its feet, from super cool people who want to do super bad guest posts, with a couple of super crap links inside... is anyone stupid enough to say yes?

Angie Colee
Angie Colee

Thank you for saying everything I've ever thought about form letters, both in business and in online dating. ESPECIALLY online dating. Side note: I've pointed out to dudes before that I could tell it was a C&P message. One particularly brilliant specimen's reply? "Could you help me rewrite it?" Duuuuuuuude seriously?

Alysson Fergison
Alysson Fergison

Perhaps a conscious choice and an unwavering belief that you shouldn't have to whittle away parts of yourself to "land a husband" are among the reasons you're still single... "If you find an intelligent companion, a wise and well-behaved person going the same way as yourself, then go along with him, overcoming all dangers, pleased at heart and mindful. But if you do not find an intelligent companion, a wise and well-behaved person going the same way as yourself, then go on your way alone, like a king abandoning a conquered kingdom, or like a great elephant in the deep forest." ~ Dhammapada

Juan Carlos Vara Perez
Juan Carlos Vara Perez

All the love. All of it. I want to be like you when I grow up, seriously... *Looks back at all the years that have passed* Okay, I'll be happy if I can be a tenth of the awesome that you are sometime in the future. You have the great ability of slapping a smile on my day with this kind of posts. If I get to be able to do that with my business, I'll give you all the credit.

Marie Angell
Marie Angell

I swear I was just thinking about this very issue (not the dating part, the form letter part--husband is looking over my shoulder! Hey!) because I got two (count 'em) emails this week that addressed me as "Hello Insert Name Here." Oo, I feel special as I hit delete.

Bentley Clark McGrath
Bentley Clark McGrath

here's my example of how taking a bit of time to personalize your communication can make all the difference. i received a missive from a fellow match.com-er on november 12, 2007 that began: Hello! While reading your profile and thinking that we have many similarities, I came up with this. Hope you like it. Remember, remember the twelfth of November A week after the Gunpowder treason and plot. Forgetting Mr. Fawkes and his treason I came up with a reason Why TODAY shouldn't be forgot. For one could say on this day in November- not May- Was written a silly email in rhyme Where I hope to prevail In telling you a tale That will catch your attention cleverly and. on time. ... i married him two years later.

Erroin Martin
Erroin Martin

Thank you Erika for the wonderful blog and the wonderful article. One of the things that I still do is send a hand written letter to anyone and everyone who matters to my business. It takes a few minutes, it is personal, and no one has ever been upset to receive one. It is that simple. Form letters suck.

Annie Sisk
Annie Sisk

Business, dating, all the same - be fucking genuine and make a fucking effort. Even a small one. Well said, and most heartily welcome!

Jeff Mouttet
Jeff Mouttet

As usual, Miss Red, brilliant, provocative, insightful, and fucking hilarious. "Tanya Harding". Enough said.

Nikki Groom
Nikki Groom

THIS line, "Measure out portions of chicken tits on a food scale like they’re gold bullion" I especially love you for. ;) I've dabbled in the online dating realm too, and it wasn't pretty. Apart from the FBI agent who was super hot and yet turned out to be so emotionally needy I felt like pure evil by the time I'd brushed him off once and for all. At least you'll have plenty o' fodder for blog posts, right? ;) GL, m'love!

Caryn Murray
Caryn Murray

Caryn's Notes: (Correct me if I'm wrong here...) 1.) Template letters suck. They are boring and belong in the trash. 2.) Instead of shooting randomly into an abyss of qualified prospects, pick a few opportunities you really want to connect with and tell them why they are awesome. (Or, why they suck and how you can help.). Individually and personally. 3.) Keep it real. 4.) Erika would rather buy sex toys than talk to you if you don't come up with an authentic way to tell her how awesome she is. She has thousands of fans to tell her that every day, so step it up men! 5.) It's easier to build a business relationship than it is to find THE ONE worth your time (romantically and sexually). But that doesn't mean you should approach a potential business relationship any less personally.

Jim Brochowski
Jim Brochowski

For some reason any usage of the term "naughty bits," makes me smile - but I digress - Anyway... It always amazes me when people don't want to put the time and effort into beginning / building relationships, both for business - which of course is the livelihood, but more importantly into relationships, which is for life. LIFE. You usually get out of something exactly what you put into it. Pity more people don't understand that. Great post!

D.T. Pennington
D.T. Pennington

Dislike cold calls? Here's an iPhone case that you can plug into the wall to keep it warm.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Death to form letters. Bring on real, human communication. Via Redhead Writing […]

  2. […] Meanwhile, Erika Napoletano writes a regular series on her blog called, “The Bitch Slap.” The most recent? “Fuck you and the form letter you rode in on.” […]

  3. […] Death to form letters. Bring on real, human communication. Via Redhead Writing […]

  4. […] See the rest here: The Bitch Slap: F-You and the Form Letter You Rode In On | Erika … […]