Dear Direct Response Letter Subscriber:
The other day I got the following unsolicited e-mail from a Web
designer trying to get me to hire him to redesign my Web site:
“I just visited your site to check your copywriting service.
“You have a very good portfolio, but one thing that your website
lacks is powerful design that would reflect such quality service.
“It is just happened that I offer redesign service, so I decided
to email you.
“I have a lot of top-quality design templates to choose from. I
also provide full customization/optimization service.
“You have a truly professional service and background, so I
believe your online ‘look & feel’ should not be worse. If you are
interested let me know.
“Sincerely, Paul V., Web Site Designer.”
Can you spot all the mistakes in Paul’s e-mail to me?
1. It is an unsolicited promotional e-mail sent to an e-mail
address where the recipient has not “opted in” – that is, has not
agreed to receive such messages. Therefore, it is spam. Not a
great way to start a relationship.
2. The first sentence is misleading. He makes himself sound like
a prospect interested in my copywriting services … which he is
3. In the second paragraph, Paul gives me a critique of my Web
site – a critique I did not ask for and therefore place no value
upon (especially since I have never heard of Paul).
4. Also, Paul’s critique is negative. So he is insulting me
within the first two sentences of our conversation – and I don’t
even know who he is … continuing to start us off on the wrong
5. In the ungrammatical sentence in the third paragraph, he shows
his true colors. He is not giving an objective critique with any
real value. He is simply trying to peddle his services – without
knowing a single thing about me, my goals, or my level of
satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with my current Web site.
6. The phrase “it is just happened” has all the sincerity of a
three-dollar bill. It’s obvious that this guy spends his time
writing to Web site owners in the desperate hope that they’ll
give him some money.
7. The fifth paragraph again insults the recipient, telling him
that his Web site is “worse” and should not be.
It’s a common ploy that many service marketers – usually those
without much business and desperate for some revenue – think will
work: Tell someone their Widget (or whatever) sucks, and that you
can make it better … if only they would hire you.
It seldom works. Here’s why….
To begin with, you’re offering unsolicited advice … which, trust
me, is absolutely the worst kind (I intend to write a whole
column on the pitfalls of unsolicited advice, so prevalent has it
become in the Internet age).
The work you are criticizing may very well have been done by the
person to whom you are aiming the criticism … so you are
insulting a complete stranger. An odd way to get people to like
you (and remember, people usually do business only with people
they like or trust).
Also, you are giving a subjective opinion for which you don’t
have the facts to back it up.
In the example above, Paul has no idea of how well my Web site is
working, whether it is achieving its sales goals, or even what
those objectives are.
So how is he in a position to judge whether what he sees is
He’s not, which reduces his already marginal credibility with me
to virtually zero.
So, what’s the root of the problem?
It’s this: To be a successful marketer, you’ve got to solve a
problem that’s important to the customer.
To solve a problem that’s important to the customer, you’ve first
got to identify what problems the client has, and then identify
those that are most important and urgent.
When you give unsolicited advice or criticism like Paul did with
my Web site, you have NO IDEA what the other person’s problems,
needs, or priorities are.
You are giving advice in a vacuum – the total opposite of what a
competent professional would do.
What’s a better approach Paul could have taken with me?
One might be to ask, “If there’s one thing you would want to
change or improve about your Web site, what would it be?”
Or he could have offered to share with me some new Web marketing
techniques that he has used for his other clients – techniques
that worked well for them and that I might be interested in
Or any of a dozen approaches other than to pretend to give me an
objective critique when in reality he is delivering a blatant