A lot of people have asked me how to start their emails. (This advice can apply to letters and direct messages too.)
My advice is to think about what the reader will see.
Put yourself in their shoes – even if they may be wearing flippers or high heels.
Most people see the following before opening your email:
- Your name
- Subject line
- First line or so – depending on the device used.
That first line…
You could start with “Dear Mr Buchan”.
If you were a doctor writing to me about an upcoming medical appointment, this would be the most appropriate greeting. I don’t want anything unusual in this context.
Assuming you’re not a doctor writing to me about a serious medical issue, you could start with “Hello Jon” or “Hey Jon”.
That would be fine…
Or you could open up a thesaurus.
Look up the other ways of saying “Hello”.
Some will be refreshing and unusual.
Some will come off a little weird.
All of them are less boring and obvious.
It may seem a tiny detail but an email only contains a relatively small amount of copy.
Make sure everything you write is at least a little different, even unusual.
It’s more fun to write and it’s more fun to read.
If you liked this, you’ll probably enjoy my entertaining copywriting course, Have Your Way With Words. It’s included in Charm Offensive Professional.
And what if you want to get the attention of a dream client?
Send them a handwritten letter.
Nobody does it.
That’s why it works.
It follows the Charm Offensive ‘formula’, as it were:
[Attention] – The form alone will get attention. You earn a few additional seconds attention because sending a handwritten letter in 2018 is archaically charming.
[Disarm] – Now it’s time your words to do the work. Open your letter with the most honest thing you can say.
[Communicate] – Introduce yourself, and what you do / what problems you can solve in a way that will make people smile. Avoid hype. Be understated but ambitious. Meek but direct.
[Charm] – When making your ask (e.g. for a call, meeting or competitive binge-drinking session), frame it in a way so the prospect feels like they stand to gain from such a call, rather than be subjected to the hard sell.
For [Disarm], [Communicate] and [Charm], you can find joke formulas to make your copy more entertaining in the Charm Offensive Facebook Group. (Search for “How to be somewhat funny” while in the group.)
Have the writing of a small child? Find someone with nice handwriting to do it for you.
They’re companies that will run these campaigns for you at scale.
Not everyone will reply, of course.
If you’ve had no response to your letter, follow up with an email one week later, with the subject line “handwritten letter.”
Or call them on the phone. When your prospect asks who it is, you can say “Did you get a slightly weird handwritten letter last week?”
This will work.
Everyone is trying to win their attention online.
Sometimes the least technological route is the least competitive and most novel and persuasive.
That’s not a bad first impression to make…