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Debbie Weil

Love your example of a "bad letter." It's perfect! Spot on mimic of the ridiculous cliches so many companies use: "What makes us different from other firms is our passion for what we do, our creativity, our integrity and our commitment to excellence in client relationships. We are passionate about being the best in these areas." Yeah, right... that's what makes your company identical to every other "marketing-speak" organization. Go, Jill! I can't wait to see the "corrected" version in your book.

Gerold Braun

I go with Debby and add:

".. in today's challenging business environment, it's never been more difficult to capture .."
1000 times heard; boring, boring, boring.

".. help you find your value proposition, create customer-ready sales messaging and create powerful sales tools for your salespeople to use during sales calls .."
This is the "meat" and should be bulleted as a list to help the reader capture ist.

I wouldn't call a strategy firm leapfrog. These animals are known as stork food. ;-) quaaak

Gerold Braun

Upps - sorry. I go with Debbie of course.

Chui Tey

It's not a bad letter, but I find it lacking the emotional appeal, as it presents everything a bit too logically.

The first paragraph qualifies the customer too quickly, and may send the letter straight to the bin if they were not planning new products, or too busy to be thinking about marketing. I would have tried to focus on how nervous a marketing manager is when their product first goes out of the door... and warn them how clever companies have come undone from poor marketing.

The second paragraph misses the chance to tie the product with the emotional hook. Perhaps this is the chance to bring out the testimonials and say what the your customers think about your seminars and courses.

The call to action is not bad but could be stronger. The first hour of free consultation is the best chance for you to fish out what the client's main problems are, and clients may be put off because they don't want to have to prepare a purchase order if the interview runs outside of the hour. I'd have just said the initial consultation is free. Then make an appointment that runs for only one hour so that it doesn't eat into your other activities.

Cary Duke - The Comp Expert

WIIFM - What's In It For Me. Why do I care? Where are the benefits I would get from using your service. Basically, the letter is all about the sender not the recepient. No emotional appeal. The buyer is still a person, right?

No PS reaffirming the benefits and call to action. Weak offer.

Now, with that said, are you going to post one that you actually get results with?

George Hope

It's a "cookie cutter" letter Jill.

Unfortunately, "Cookie Cutter" letters generate little
effective response. The ROI on this letter will cost you money.

Letter needs to address WHO=DMaker, WHAT,=Specific ROI Justified Solution, WHERE=Strategic Vertical Market, WHEN=ASAP, WHY=This is the most important, the DMaker needs to know WHY it is critical to invest in the Value Proposition Offered.

John Reese

It seems to be too wordy and sounds almost boring. I would recommend it be more "Eye Catching" with bullet points and bold letters. Needs a better "call to action" as well. Why should they do business ("WIFM")

John Reese

Ira Stoller

The letter shows no research on the part of the sender and no attempt to tie the letter to the business of the recipient. The sender shouldn't have to ask in a letter if the company is introducing new products. That should have been researched first and the letter geared to the recipient's business. What type of product? What type of distribution? For instance, you'd market a new IT product somewhat differently than a new candy bar. Many of the ideas are good, but a bit of tweaking and personalization could have made it into a dynamite offer.


Your first sentence allows the reader to answer "no" and throw the letter away without learning anything more about what your company offers.

Susan Gilmore

Your opening sentence presents a very closed ended supposition. There is nothing compelling the recipient to continue reading. This letter is your very basic, boring letter that absolutely does NOT in any way read as Provocative. You haven't engaged the reader from the beginning, there is no clear value proposition and the offer for a free consultation is moot as you don't appear to know anything about the prospect's business needs.

A provocative letter would seem to require research, a statement re: needs as well as your unique approach to achieving solutions.

I'm hoping that you will share the newest version.

Kristin Kowler

I would'nt send a brochure in an attempt to set up a meeting. It's a perfect way for the prospect to respond with the dreaded: "Thanks very much for your very informative brochure, we'll keep it on file and let you know if we have a need for your services."

Jim Davich

Who are you and what do you do as a company? Where's YOUR value proposition/statement? Your going to help me with mine and I have no idea what yours is? Please. Do you as a sales person know me? Should I know you? Why do I want to get to know you?

Results? Where are the quantifiable results I will achieve when I use your service? Where are the quantifiable results your other clients have achieved that have a similar business to mine? Where are the quantifiable reasons that differentiate you from the rest of your competitors?

Also, and I think most important, how does the use of your company/services help the buyer/decision maker as a person? Do you have any idea how or why they buy or what motivates them to buy something? It may not be all the typical "business" reasons. It could be personal. People buy from people. A lawyer won't ask a question they don't already know the answer to. Similarly, a letter shouldn't be written unless you know what the specific results will be. Otherwise, your just another sales person "hoping" to get a hit. Shoot a bullet, not a shotgun.

Helen Wilkie, communication specialist

The reference to "most companies" is a turn-off right away. Sales letters should use every linguistic device possible to write to an individual and not the faceless masses. Everyone thinks their business is different, and this letter gives them a perfect opening to say that and not pay any attention to the message. The writer talks about helping clients find their value proposition, but fails miserably to express her own -- or even suggest she might have one.

Great example Jill. Can't wait to see the new and improved version!

Ed Post

Had I not known this letter came from you, someone I respect from prior readings, I probably would not have gotten beyond the first (or suffered through the second) sentence. I agree with the previous critiques, you simply didn't pull me into your offer and I would not have gotten as far as the "free hour" offer.

Terry Hucks

Simply too long, boring and creates no emotional connection.
Terry Hucks

Sahil Adeem

I agree with most of the critiques of this letter seeming like a typical sales letter. And yet it lacks the typical Salesman probe. I think a sales letter is the most powerful weapon since there is no chance of an objection if written eloquently keeping the customer in mind. I think each and every content of this letter is worth being in it, but what I would like to see is a letter going that extra yard, having the smell of that extra ounce of courage in it which makes the reader ask himself if the writer is being too direct or too real? Unless you put him to this task, I don’t think you have done the job, be it a sales letter or a sales call.

G Scruggs

Opening is much too generic, not relevant to me. Be more specific by doing a little research or talk to trends that might be happening in the "industry". What exactly is an "ever-shrinking window of opportunity"? I also sense a slight undertone that you assume I’m not up to the task of introducing new products. If I think I'm good at it, I won't need you - immediately tossed.

Paragraph two sounds like a buzzword feature fest. Lets throw as much as possible against the wall and something is bound to stick. You don’t talk to a target prospect by using a running list of the latest marketing catch phrases. Be careful with terms like Webinar, may not be widely known to your target audience. There is also a grammar problem here "on even" should be "or even".

In paragraph 3 you talk to 17 years of experience. You must have a testimonial or two that can summarize what you've done for others - preferably with tangible results. I would push this into your opening or second paragraph. Another grammar problem - variety of clients . . . .

Weak close - ask for the business and do it with confidence. This paragraph also demonstrates a general lack of grammar efficiency; it can be tightened up in a couple of places throughout.

Look forward to summarized feedback . . .

Nina Barretta

I think that the letter flows from paragraph to paragraph. What's missing, in my opinion, is 1) your targeted customer-focused headline", 2) "provacative" sub-headlines to introduce each paragraph....keeps "interested" prospect reading, and 3) a P.S. (call today for your FREE consultation, etc.) 4) add a value-proposition testimonial, 5) add to your signature box: your web-address and the title of your upcoming book. 6) eliminate the brochure and include one of your articles or write-ups or both! Bet you knew all this stuff already?! It was a fun-learning exercise anyway!


Do you think many people would read past the first paragraph? If it was a direct mail piece, I doubt it.

This letter may have an impact if a prospect called you and wanted you to send them information about your company.

Short! Sweet! To the Point! How will this help me!
Lot of white space. Easy on the eyes.

The letters I have written that have received the most response, that when I read them seem to be the worst letters that have ever been written anywhere. And the best letters I thought that I have ever wrote, much like yours, were great for my ego but horrible for business.

No balls!

Pat Bennett

When I read a letter, I remember the advice from an instructor. If the sentences average more than 15 words, you are going to lose your audience. This is a classic example of doing just that!

Keep the letter sharp, to the point, with bullet points, and, as most people have commented, "what's in it for me" statements. (Yes, that sentence was too long!)


Dear Mr. Big Shot (__Trump etc, etc, etc _) ,,,,

At Leapfrog , we offer all types of Frogs..

Did you know that Jack Welch , has one of our frogs , every night for dinner ,

When Jack Calls ...

whether its the one pounder or a 5 pounder .....we deliver...

,, on time... ever time , for Jack ,,

Just ask jack the next time you see him ,

Jack will say "Jill and her LeapFrogs are the best"



cc: Jack Welch

Bill Bell

Jill - I got nearly through with my comments about your letter. Then accidentally pushed thw wrong button and it disappeared. So here goes again:

Rarely do we see letters that bad anymore. It begins with a weak question, does not address the recipient and his interests, only only talks about you and your company, full of cliches, indicates that you have done no research on his company,is far too long, etc. The letter is sure to be discarded unread as junk mail.

After we have spent a good bit of time crafting a sales letter we need to make sure that the addressee will READ it. To do that, be sure to let the word "you" appear within the first three words of the letter. Examles: "As you plan your summer sales campaign. . ." or "Your sales people are plesant and enthusiastic but could use some proven sales tips that can greatly increse their sales and your profits."

I will be interested to how you improve your letter.

Thank you for inviting our comments.

Regards, Bill

carey ann pascoe

what letter? I was distracted.....

rickey gold

Sorry. Wanted to but I couldn't read it. I glanced quickly to see how long it was and decided it was too long to read. But I did read the first line and agree with whoever said it gave the reader the opportunity to say no and pitch the letter.

Ed Post

I don't know what the intent was when you posted this letter, but what has emerged is the fact you have some very bright and discerning readers. It would be interesting and informative to see their rewrites of the letter.
Take care,

Janet White

What's wrong with this letter? It's committed the mortal sin of selling -- it's all about the SELLER, and there isn't a word in it about the buyer. In fact, the buyer isn't mentioned by name or industry once.

This letter is pitching and hustling and is deaf and blind to the needs, interests and concerns of the buyer. That's why it doesn't work

Why should the buyer care? How will the buyer benefit from this company's services? Who knows? Not the seller and certainly not the buyer.

This is a classic example of junk mail.

Mary Baum

Plain and simple: The opening proposition talks down to the reader -- not a good strategy for reaching a senior manager. Then the supporting info has a bad case of the we-wees (we this, we that) and none of it demonstrating any value proposition beyond the price of entry.

Worst of all, it does nothing to demonstrate any strategic savvy or creativity -- and no evidence that anything it says it is or does has benefited anyone. Even their cat's endorsement would be better than none!

Michael Stammer

one word: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

being an egoist like every other prospect in world the only thing I want to hear is how you will make me taller, thinner, younger and more attractive to the opposite sex.

and yes, rich too.

zev saftlas

this is a great letter to read when you cant fall asleep....

...no emotional draw...

Zev Saftlas

Bert Bogash

Blah, Blah, Blah. . .This letter is all about Leapfrog and not about the prospect. I had to force myself to read it. If I had received it, I'd have tossed it away before the second paragraph.

To be effective, a sales letter must be relevant to the recipient.

Bert Bogash
Premier Marketing Group

Harvey Mathews

Where's the beef? Where's the relevance?

If someone wants to interupt me and get my attention it had better be in the headline of this letter. I'd write a title that would compel the reader to want to know more.

I need solutions, not questions. I don't expect the answer as a solution. How about a process that works, cite examples, and can be customized for my situation.

Also, why am I a candidate? Not just because I fit a demographic. I want a personalized approach that makes me feel that you know my situation. Do some homework on me.

Finally, help me by taking responsiblity to contact me. I won't be contacting you. Set an expectation in me and follow-up. I might just surprise you by accepting your call.


Lolo Buys

I think this letter makes it easy for the prospect to reject, especially if there were other marketers calling on this particular prospect. This letter is just nice to read when you're bored and have nothing to do.



As others have mentioned it lacks being
* unique
* relevant
* compelling
* to the point
from the prospects standpoint.

It also leaves it in the prospects court to contact you versus you being the one to follow up with them to confirm they've even received it.

Damon Balch

Too long, too much about YOU. Nothing compelling or entertaining...same crap I get every single day...that goes into the garbage!!!

Please send the new one when you get it done!

What was the goal anyway....to waste everyone's time?

Thanks - Damon

Shawn Struck

That can be summed up thusly:



Give meat with your potatoes!

Too standard, no emotion, no talk about the client as research should have been done to talk about them.

Give examples of how your "coaching and instructing" has led to an average of 5% sales increase, 10%, or whatever the actual number is at accounts you have worked at...surely you have tracked this number so you can give evidence of the strength of your services.

It's great to talk a good game, it's another to back it up with evidence!

Please let us see your revised "can't put it down, want-to-do-business-with-you" letter to get a glimpse attraction of the x's and o's of your sure to be successful book!

Brian Carroll


Just wanted to say hello. As always you're thought provoking : ) Great comments everyone!


Don Pooley

No punchy headline.

We scan headlines before we invest time in reading. If the headline doesn't grab us, we ignore the rest.

A good headline also helps the writer maintain
focus on the purpose of the letter.

What was the focus of this letter?

Alex Makarski

A great example of a really bad letter that 95% of corporate folks would consider a masterpiece. The problem with it it is:
- annoyingly myopic
- a Frankenstein monster of cliches
- no "alternate path" for quick scanning
- no story
- no testimonials
- boring, boring, boring

Nigel Pretyman

Yes very blazay letter indeed. No impact grabing headline and definately know showing that you have any knowledge or interst in the prospect/prospective company in a direct way. To start to grow a prospective business patnership one must show knowledge about the prospective company first and then be quick and to the point in why you can help or devise an effective solution.

Bob McCarthy

I am probably coming too late to this party to make a difference - but here goes:

Forget about the copy and whether it is cliched or boring or too much about you. It's all true and sure, you'll improve response by following the advice offered ahead of me.

But sorry, it's not going to make the kind of difference you want.

You see, in sales letters - in all forms of direct response - it's all about the offer.

Your offer is a free consultation. Sure it is. We all know this means a one-hour sales call - no matter how much you dress it up. I used to offer a free one hour Strategy Session but people see through it. Bottom line is the consultation (or the Strategy Session) is a one-hour face to face commitment and that's a lot to ask. You'll still get response but your numbers will be small.

Consider an offer that doesn't ask as much of your prospect - a free white paper, an applicable case study, an Information Kit. Something that can be mailed or downloaded. Something that allows your prospect to act without much commitment. The quality of your response won't match the free consultant, but the quantity will jump signficantly.

That said, regardless of what offer you choose, you need to make sure your readers will see it. Right now, it's in the last paragraph, also known as "buried." Put your offer in your headline or in the lead, put it up high in the letter, indent it, pop it, get it noticed. Put it in the PS.

For maximum response, make it all about the offer. Don't talk about yourself, talk about what the offer can do for the reader.

Then make it easy for people to respond. A telephone call is a high commitment response channel (fear of getting stuck on the phone with a sales person). Give your readers a chance to also reply by mail, fax, email, a web landing page.

Oh and by the way, give some thought to how your letter looks graphically - short paragraphs, short line lengths, selective use of highlighters. Like it or not, our readers tend to skim our letters, not read them.

As a direct mail copywriter myself, I know how difficult (and time consuming) it is to write a compelling, persuasive and relevant sales letter but it's all going to be wasted if you haven't given proper consideration to your offer.

Good luck!

Bob McCarthy
McCarthy & King Marketing, Inc.
Milford, MA 01757


Bland, bland, bland! I learned this old "business letter" format in the 1970's - and it was old then! Today's decision-makers have little time and even less patience to wade through boring, never-ending "text." Punch it up! First line: WIIFM! If you don't grab them by the throat on initial meeting, they'll slip through your fingers - and you'll slip through theirs, right into the trash!

Frank Cannone

As an inside sales consultant I am always on the phone with prospects. After reading many of these comments I was reminded just how important all of these are to proper phone techniques. In fact many of the same priciples apply only I am "writing copy" everytime I dial the phone.

As you can imagine selling DSL and T1 services is not as exciting to many of my customers as it is to me. I've got to help them get that excitement, and take ownership of my product long before they agree to do business with me.

Kudos to you Jill

Frank A. Cannone
Senior Account Manager
Covad Communication
866-656-8757 x2991

Mike Dennehy

Almost all the correct criticisms have been made, but there's one more that nobody seems to have picked up on - proofreading. Admittedly, not everyone will have got as far as the second paragraph, but if they did they would see an incorrect word at the end.

It should say "... teleseminars or even ..." instead of "... teleseminars on even ..."

Sending out a sales letter or a brochure with proofing errors is a mortal sin, and it can portray your organization or service as sloppy and ill-prepared - not a good look.

Keep up the great work, Jill.

Scott Jones

I'll attempt to take a different angle here just because a lot has already been said ... and correctly.

"Executives buy, not because they understand, but because they feel understood." Guess what? They are human beings too and they, like all of us, want to feel that someone gets them and their needs.

Today's executives are busier, more accountable and have fewer resources than any time in history. They don't have time for, what they perceive to be, quota-carrying sales people. They don't want a golf or lunch buddy. They want someone who gets them and has the credibility, capability and trust needed to help them solve their problems. The problems that they, as individuals, are experiencing in their specific role within their specific vertical.

Novel concept, I know, but no one has adequately addressed this issue until now. We have just introduced Executive Link.

Check out what Selling Power Magazine and Tony Parinello think.

David Wells


This is a great example of how bad examples are used by sales reps because they don't take the time to think about what they are sending out to prospects.

Sales reps use this kind of letter because it's simple, easy, looks professional and oh by the way they have that sales quota to meet. Better to show some activity than to find out what actually works.

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