by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
March 27, 2005
LOVE LETTER MARKETING 101
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- One day last summer, I was lying in my hammock, drinking a beer and relaxing. I was starting to nod off, when I heard a quiet "ahem."
I opened my eyes and spotted my young neighbor, Jeremy, who had just started the 6th grade a couple weeks earlier.
"Hey, Mr. Deckers," he said. "Taking a nap, huh?"
I congratulated the lad on his keen powers of observation, although I wished he had a better sense of timing.
"What services may I bestow upon you, young Jeremy?" I inquired.
"What do you want?"
"I need some advice. Mrs. Deckers said you were pathetic with girls when you were my age."
"Oh she did, did she?"
"Yeah. She said you were pretty hopeless until you met her. I figured that if you were as dorky as she said, but you still got married, you must have done something right. So I thought you were probably the best person to help me."
I couldn't fault the little blighter for his logic, but felt I should have a word with Mrs. Deckers later.
"So what do you need?"
"I need some help with a love letter. I'm trying to get Susie Capstone to like me." He held out a neatly folded piece of paper. I looked it over and immediately identified his problem. It looked like what I would have written when I was his age: 'Dear Susie, I like you. Do you like me? Sincerely, Jeremy.'
I turned it over. "Where's the rest of it?"
"That's it. It's short and to the point."
"It needs serious help. It needs the delicate touch of a marketer."
I grabbed a pen from my we writers are always prepared - and started scribbling notes on his paper.
"First you need a U.S.P."
"Universal Selling Proposition. It's what sets you apart from your competitors."
"Your competitors. Let me ask you this, is Susie pretty?"
"Yeah, I guess."
"Do other boys like her too?"
"Yes, lad, say yes. Speak clearly. Now, these other boys are your competitors. Your U.S.P tells Susie why she should pick you over them." I scribbled a few more notes.
"Now what about an Attention Getter and Benefit Statement?"
Jeremy's glazed look told me he had no clue what this was.
"What's one positive thing that Susie would get by choosing you?"
"I have my own bike. It's a ten speed."
"Good, but that's a feature. A benefit is what she gets. So how does your bike help her?"
"I could give her a ride somewhere."
"Excellent." I scribbled a few more notes. "Now we need a call to action, something for her to do. Research shows that giving a respondent a call to action increases your response rate."
Jeremy could only nod silently. I wrote down one last thing:
"What do you think of this?
'Dearest Susie, You have captivated my heart with your eyes that sparkle like dew on a red rose in the early dawn. Come be my love and we can fly anywhere your heart desires. If you will be mine, please respond with a resounding yes, and pass this note back to Gretchen. I yearn for you, Jeremy."
He looked at me suspiciously. "Are you sure about this?"
"Is this how you got Mrs. Deckers?"
"No, that's a whole different story. Now rewrite this in your own handwriting and give it to Susie."
Jeremy still looked unsure, so I started to launch into a lecture about the importance of word of mouth marketing when he said he heard his mother calling and ran off.
A few days later, Jeremy interrupted another nap.
"So what was the final return?" I asked. "Did it work?"
"Well, yes and no. No, Susie is already going with Tyler Marlowe and he nearly beat me up."
I started to offer my condolences, but he held up his hand.
"But," he continued, "she showed it to her friends, and now three girls like me."
"Wow, Referral Marketing. That's really great. I'll bet you're pretty excited about that, huh?"
Jeremy whipped out a pair of sunglasses and stuck them on his face. "You bet. Now I want to create a few different versions of the letter so I can start testing them on different markets. I figure I can improve my customer retention rate by 20% if I pump up the copy and leverage my brand buzz in other schools. Do you know any good freelance copywriters?"
I think I've created a monster.