It’s Not E-Mail Marketing if I Can’t Figure Out What You Sell

by | Jun 4, 2009 | Writing Matters Blog | 2 comments

Received this “cold call” e-mail today from XYZ Networks [not the company’s real name]. Opened it in preview pane as it had a scary, spammy subject line: “XYZ Networks Meeting.” Never heard of XYZ Networks. Read it four times. Couldn’t figure out what he sells.


I called into your organization last week and would like to discuss my initiative with you. Since you are probably as busy as I am, I am sending this email correspondence (as it might be a better way to converse). I would like to clarify my intentions and determine your scheduling availability to meet next week. With the growing concern for the future of our economy, many organizations have been taking a closer look at their operational overhead and seek the means to reduce their cost without compromising the quality of the services.

XYZ Networks has made a dedicated commitment to assisting and I would like to afford your organization the same opportunity. I would like to take a collaborative approach to understanding your business and the services necessary to keep it fully operational. I will look to provide a competitive analysis which will provide projected savings. If the numbers make sense, I will then request a meeting to uncover my findings and demonstrate how this will impact your business. Again, please let me know when you will be available for next week to further discuss strategies.

I look forward to hearing from you.


John Doe
Total Solutions Specialist

I am lost! What is his “initiative”? How can he reduce my costs? Which costs? I’m confused about when he wants to meet with me, too. In the first paragraph, he’s interested in
getting together next week. But in the second, he’ll request a meeting
after he’s completed a competitive analysis.

This marketing e-mail is so bad that it’s a textbook lesson on what not to do.  But if you’re trying to sell something by e-mail, or simply trying to book a meeting with a prospect, here’s a (pretty obvious) list of what you must do:

  • Write a meaningful, engaging subject line.
  • Write a single, specific, concrete call to action. 
  • Explain exactly what you can do to help the customer. Use “for examples” and cite case studies.
  • Help the customer understand who you are and what your company does, even if you have an easily recognized brand name.

Now, I have a question for Writing Matters readers about the choice I made to disguise the real name of the company that sent this e-mail and the “Total Solutions Specialist” who signed it. Do you think I should have used the company’s real name? If so, why? Post a comment with your answer or e-mail me.

— Leslie O’Flahavan

Tags: Customer service e-mail, E-mail, Marketing


  1. I think you did the right thing by not disclosing the name of the person, although I think the company name is fair game. In part, it might have removed some of the mystery from the message if the company were named “Email Marketing Lists For Less” or something.
    This is a terrible message, though. One expects that the person who sent it isn’t very happy to be in sales.

  2. Thanks for your input, David. One other reason I didn’t post the company name is that I didn’t want to drive business its way. But, here’s the big reveal: XYZ Networks is actually Broadview Networks based in Rye Brook, NY. I agree with your closing point: the person who wrote it is not a happy salesman.

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