Marketing by e-mail, on paper, or both

In marketing your freelance services, you may wonder (or at least I do!) whether it’s better to market to direct clients by e-mail, on paper, or both. I don’t have a succinct answer to that, but here are a few thoughts.

For a long time, I was a devotée of marketing on paper: writing out a full-page cover letter, attaching my resumé and a business card, sticking it all in an envelope and mailing it to the potential client. I also did a number of postcard marketing campaigns, and I do think there’s a place for paper marketing materials:

  1. They stand out: most people’s postal mail is 95% ads and bills. So, although your marketing packet is a type of ad, it’s also interesting, and personalized, and shows that you took more than 30 seconds to put something together for this potential candidate.
  2. They stick around: once someone deletes an e-mail, it’s gone. But I’ve gotten inquiries from clients (literally) years after I sent them a marketing pitch in the mail, because my business card was still kicking around their office.
  3. They let you say more than you would in an e-mail: no one is going to read an e-mail that’s the equivalent of a full-page cover letter. But I’ve had fairly good success with full-page cover letters sent in the mail. They let you describe your recent projects, something about the client that makes you feel there’s a good fit, etc.

The downside of paper marketing materials is that they’re time-consuming and potentially costly to create and send, and your prospect has to make a very deliberate effort (in the form of calling or e-mailing you) to respond. There’s no reply button on a paper letter, so the prospect has to be really interested in order to follow up.

Just because I wondered what I might be missing, I recently joined Ed Gandia’s Warm E-mail Prospecting course. It’s online and self-paced, and I really like it. It’s helped me see the advantages of e-mail marketing–not blast e-mails that you send to 1,000 potential prospects with one click, but short (125 words or less), targeted, personalized e-mails that you send when you see a meaningful connection between you and the potential client. The appeal:

  1. They’re short: it takes me under one minute to read 125 words. I get a lot of unsolicited e-mail (marketing pitches from other translators, requests for information about freelancing, requests to speak or write or present, etc.) and when I open an e-mail and it’s short, personalized and to the point, I actually feel interested in reading it (here’s something written just for me and it will take two seconds…maybe it’s interesting!). But when I open an unsolicited e-mail and it’s 500 words, or begins with “I’d like to start by telling you about myself,” I often leave the e-mail “for later,” which usually means much later, or if the e-mail isn’t personalized, I end up deleting it without reading it.
  2. They invite immediate action: if your prospect is interested, they can click Reply, and simply answer, “Sounds interesting; can you send me some more information?” or “We may need someone like you in the future; feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn,” and they’re done with it.
  3. They’re easy to create once you get the hang of it: and easy is good. Easy is what gets done. Instead of tailoring the cover letter, then printing it, then printing your resumé, then locating a business card and an envelope, then stressing about whether the paper should be white or off-white, and whether it’s OK to use your leftover Christmas stamps on business letters, and so on, you just fire the thing off and you’re done.

Readers, other thoughts on this?

13 Responses to “Marketing by e-mail, on paper, or both”
  1. Jeff Alfonso December 8, 2014
    • Corinne McKay December 8, 2014
  2. Mayte Millares December 8, 2014
  3. Domenico December 8, 2014
  4. Mark December 8, 2014
    • lukegos December 9, 2014
      • Mark December 9, 2014
      • Andie Ho December 9, 2014
  5. lukegos December 9, 2014
  6. ciclistatraduttore December 9, 2014
  7. christinedurban December 10, 2014
  8. Alessandra Martelli December 10, 2014
  9. Tatjana Dujmic December 16, 2014

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