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I received an email yesterday from a representative of a PR consulting firm. He was obviously trying to solicit my business. But instead of sending me a “real” email message, he instead cut and pasted this awful, “salesy” form letter that he has probably used a hundred times before.

It began with “Dear sir”, because he didn’t know my name.

It made some vague reference to having visited my website, although it was doubtful that he did.

And then his email proceeded to pitch me on scheduling a free consulting session with his firm, which I had better book right away because “There are only a few spots available.”

I felt spammed. And, in fact, I was.

The only reason why I didn’t push the delete button is that I wanted to keep his prospecting email as an example of what NOT to do!

Now, in fairness to him, his firm may very well provide an excellent service. Maybe I should be speaking to him. But his email did nothing to convince me of that.

So how do you write an effective prospecting email? One that actually makes a good impression and really works?

This is a case where showing you is better than instructing you. So let me show you an example of a prospecting email that, in my opinion, is well done.

Subject: Getting your case studies done

Hi Mark,

I’ve been meaning to contact you. Because I do so much work with companies in the enterprise software industry, I’ve come across your company’s website on several occasions. And, recently, I noticed that you’ve begun to use case studies in your marcom mix.

Do you find it time-consuming to develop this type of collateral?

I ask because I create case studies for clients like Hewlett-Packard and Sage. And one of the main reasons they use my services is that I save them, on average, 10-15 hours per project.

I’m not sure if saving time, in regards to case studies, is an issue for you. But if it is, I’d be happy to send you an example of a recent case study I wrote, along with a general idea of my turnaround times and pricing.

Just let me know and I’ll email you that information right away.

All the best,

Robin Chadha
Copywriter & Consultant

This prospecting email isn’t perfect. But it works. Why?

First of all, it’s not a template. Robin composed this message specifically for the prospect she was targeting. She thought about how best to introduce herself to this person, and then wrote the email accordingly.

Second, Robin obviously took the time to learn a few things about the prospect’s company. She discovered that they’re using case studies more often and, since they only have one marketing manager (Mark), she speculated that the time required to develop case studies was becoming an issue.

Third, she established a connection. Everyone is suspicious of an email from a complete stranger. So Robin reminded the prospect that she’s done work for several other clients in his industry. That makes her part of his industry. A colleague.

And finally, Robin didn’t attempt to land a project, or even a meeting, with this first introduction. She simply offered to email more information on her services, turnaround times, and pricing. If I were a
marketing manager that needed some case studies done, I wouldn’t hesitate to take Robin up on her offer.

So if you want to reach out to a new prospect, don’t email a “cut and paste” form letter &ndash no matter how well written it may be. Instead, send a personalized email that focuses on introducing yourself and building the relationship. It may take you a while to craft such an email, but you’ll get a much better result if you do.