Writing an appointment-getting letter

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Chasing prospects – via cold calling, for example – is about as fun as scrubbing down a backyard deck with a toothbrush. That’s why I’m a big advocate of marketing that progressively builds relationships with prospects so they call you when they have a need.

But there are circumstances when you have no choice. You have to do some “chasing”.

If you’re a graphic designer just starting a new business, for example, you can’t wait for relationships to gradually build until you’re finally getting some calls. That could take months. You need to set up meetings with new potential clients – right now!

How do you do that?

There are many ways. (None of which, thank goodness, involve cold calling.) But the one way that many business owners don’t consider is the old-fashioned appointment-getting letter.

Here’s how it works:

You mail a one-page letter, printed on your own letterhead, to a highly-targeted list of prospects. Then, four or five business days later, you make a follow-up phone call. (Or have someone do that for you.)

The tricky part is crafting the letter. It needs to persuade the prospect that you’re someone they should meet, or at least get to know better.

I did a video a few weeks back on a simple, step-by-step copywriting formula that will help. You can view it here.

In addition to that formula, here are some other tips for writing that letter:

  • Start by highlighting the prospect’s problem. If you’re a graphic designer, for example, you might begin with how difficult it is to find someone who understands industrial POP packaging design.
  • Position the meeting as an introduction, not a sales call. After all, that’s what it is.
  • Sell the benefits of the meeting. Answer the prospect’s question: “What’s in it for me if I meet with you?”
  • Consider asking for a phone meeting. You stand a much better chance of getting the prospect to agree to meet with you by phone than in person.
  • Include a client testimonial. I’ve found that adding a testimonial somewhere in the letter significantly increases response.
  • Make your letter “lumpy”. Put something interesting in the envelope that indicates there is, well, something interesting inside! This will get your letter opened. Yes, it’s a gimmick, but it works.

A few years ago, I interviewed a freelance copywriter who used letters to build her business. She targets the natural health industry. To make her letters “lumpy”, she would include a bag of green tea – which fit perfectly with the theme of her letters and the sensibilities of her market.

Besides getting the letter opened, a “lumpy” letter gives you the perfect ice breaker when you make the follow-up call. You can say something like, “I’m the one who sent you the letter with the bag of delicious green tea inside.” That’s definitely a conversation starter!

Let’s face it. Getting meetings – even phone meetings – with new prospects who have never heard of you before is tough, tough, tough. But a well-written letter sent before you call or email can dramatically improve your chances of success.

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