Being different often brings positive results. Marketing letters are successful for that reason—they’re different. The marketing letter presents your strongest accomplishments, often those with quantifiable results, to entice the reader. Dates and names of employers are seldom mentioned. The marketing letter acts as a substitute for a resume with a cover letter. In essence, the marketing letter is more like a lengthened cover letter than a resume. Compared to resumes, marketing letters are more personal in tone and more like business correspondence in appearance. Consequently, they tend not to be screened out by administrative assistants.
Marketing letters are perhaps the best-kept secret in job hunting. Less than 1% of all job seekers use marketing letters, yet few job-finding strategies can lead to more appointments and job interviews. By sending only the marketing letter, your resume is held in reserve for later use. The key to success is addressing it to a specific person and informing that person that a phone call will follow. Your goal is to meet as many hiring managers as possible, regardless of whether any openings exist at the moment. This is accomplished by requesting brief meetings (usually about 15–20 minutes).
The use of marketing letters has dramatically improved the way our clients find jobs. In the past we had clients cold-call potential employers to request appointments. They understood the importance of the calls, knew they would work, and had practiced what they would say. However, some failed to make their calls, and those who did call often procrastinated. Sending a marketing letter makes placing those calls easier. Knowing that a person is expecting your call, and is already convinced that you have something of quality to offer, makes a substantial difference psychologically. Using the marketing letter, combined with effective telephone skills, should get you in to see hiring managers 30 to 60% of the time. Contacting the most senior executives (e.g., CEO, president, CFO) reduces the probability to 10 to 20%. Still, not too shabby a return on a small investment of time and postage.
Notice the impact potential of the following marketing letter and you’ll begin to see why this strategy gets results. It is especially strong because each accomplishment has been quantified, always a winner.
The marketing letter presents you in a way that is of value to the employer. It can highlight those skills and experiences you acquired at various times in your career without providing specific dates or even job titles. The essential information here is the quality of your experience and results that might be buried on the second page of a resume under unrelated job titles in an unconnected industry.
The philosophy of these sessions is that any good manager should be a good talent scout as well. Thus, a person with a valuable skill set and experience, making contact, even unsolicited contact, is someone who should be afforded consideration. Why? Because there might be a need for this person at any point in the future . . . from two minutes after the meeting to a few years.
Some job seekers feel comfortable just picking up the phone and contacting employers without having previously sent a marketing letter. They are the lucky ones; they are also the minority. Cold-calling is rarely anyone’s favorite activity. It is more often their most dreaded one. The beauty of the marketing letter is that it “greases the skids.” It prepares the person for your call. Then, when you are connected, you do not have to go through the painful cold introduction.
Put yourself in the role of an employer and check out the following marketing letter. Would you think it worthwhile to meet the author, even if you did not have a position available at the moment? If the person asked for just 15 minutes of your time, would you say yes? Remember, a responsibility of managers is to maintain a list of potential employees in the event a person quits, or changing market conditions require a special set of talents.
The next two examples demonstrate the flexibility of marketing letters. While they use a more narrative format and are less quantifiable, they also have a strong impact on the reader.
Writing an effective marketing letter requires that you first have a results-oriented and empowered resume. Once the resume is complete, the marketing letter almost writes itself. In fact, the results statements used in the marketing letter can come almost word for word from the resume.
The core of any marketing letter is the presentation of your results and experience. To write a strong marketing letter, review your resume and think through how you want to summarize your background. If you have some key projects or results that can be quantified, simply describe them, as was done in the first
sample letter. If your career does not lend itself to that approach, the more narrative form might work best for you. Names of employers and key customers are seldom mentioned unless well-known or prestigious. Provide them only if you think they will sufficiently impress the reader and help your case.
Remember, the marketing letter is not a resume. The reader is not expecting to know everything about you. Your goal is to have quick impact. Your letter should cause the person to recognize your value and to remember you when you call.
Borrow freely from the resume. Take a look at your qualifications statement; in many cases parts of it can be imported almost verbatim. Even the results can be used with little or no change. Let it flow. Make sure sentences are complete, unlike the telegraphic style of the resume. Don’t be concerned if your resume and marketing letter have similar phrasing; no one will notice. Lead-ins for your results could be worded:
You may be interested in my labor negotiating experience. Some of my additional accomplishments are:
My six years in customer relations could be valuable to you. This experience includes:
If your advertising department needs a person with strong experience, you may be interested in what I’ve done.
If you choose to describe jobs, as in the third sample marketing letter, phrases can again be lifted from the resume. Since this is a marketing letter, describe only the most important and relevant positions, even if they are not presented in any chronological order.
A good closing paragraph for your marketing letter might include a summary of your background, such as the number of years in your field, and information about your degree and alma mater. The final paragraph then prepares the reader for any follow-up contact you might make. In most cases this will be a follow-up phone call.
If the contact person is local, request a brief meeting and indicate this in the letter. Emphasize the term brief. Let these people know you understand the value of their time.
If the person is out of state but is likely to be in your area in the next two or three months, see if you can line up an appointment for that time. If the person has no plans to be in your area, polish up your phone skills because that is probably going to be the vehicle for the meeting. If you will be in the person’s area in the near future, ask for a brief appointment when you’re in town.
For more on how to follow up after sending a marketing letter, see Appendix B for examples of marketing letters and techniques for using them.
reSume, CoVer letter, anD marKeting letter worKing together
The best way to understand how a resume, marketing letter, and cover letter work together is to see a sample of each for the same person. Here, the resume was written first, followed by the marketing letter. The cover letter borrowed some elements from the marketing letter, making it fairly quick and easy to write.
utilizing Your marKeting letter to meet hiring authoritieS
Using a marketing letter effectively will get you in to see more hiring managers than any other strategy I know. These are not informational interviews where you are seeking information about a career field, an industry, or a specific organization. No, the people you are going to visit are managers who hire people with your background.
When you send out a marketing letter you will already know what fields you want to pursue and through Reference USA (see page 287) and other resources, you will have identified organizations that meet your requirements for size, location, and industry. These are organizations that you know, or suspect, hire people with your background.
You may previously have used informational interviews to nail down your career field and perhaps developed a list of industries. You move into the marketing letter mode when you have answered those questions.
Having identified prospective employers, you need to identify at least one person in each organization who has the power, the authority, to hire you. The person will probably not have an opening at the time you contact him or her. We say probably, because sometimes you’ll meet a manager who just yesterday started seeking a person like you. Or, the person has become aware that it’s time to add a person to the staff. If your marketing letter gets into her hands at this moment, you will likely be granted your request for a 15 minute appointment. Or, unbeknownst to the manager, a valued employee is going to quit in the next four weeks. If you can spend even two minutes with a hiring manager (15 minutes is what you’ll initially ask for), you can cause the person to seriously consider you for future openings.
We each know a certain number of people from all phases of our lives— work, recreation, community, family, worship, etc. All of these contacts have similar circles they move in. So what we have is a nearly infinite network of potential contacts.
Getting to see someone on the inside brings you that much closer to the hiring authority. Here, at least you have someone with access to internal information, internal directories, email addresses, and more. If you make a good impression, there is the chance you will be referred to either the hiring authority or someone close. Repeat as necessary.
Friends, relatives, acquaintances, business contacts can all provide useful leads if you approach them in the right way. Before they can help, people must know what you’re looking for and what your qualifications are. About 26% of all job seekers find positions through such leads. This could be increased substantially if people made better use of this method. Include your banker, barber, broker, and butcher. Every person who has an interest in your success can be helpful.
Another 34% obtain their jobs through direct contact with employers. A significant part of the 34% is made up by folks who go straight to hiring managers seeking appointments with them, regardless of whether a current opening exists.
When directly contacting a manager, sometimes you’ll contact that person at the pefect moment when they have an opening or are about to have an opening. At other times a manager will agree to a brief appointment, giving you an opportunity to kindle interest in you for when an opening does occur.
When you consider that approximately 70% of job seekers find their job through referrals and direct contact, you wonder why some job seekers devote 80% of more of their time browsing online job listings, when that source accounts for less than 10% of hiring.
Begin by handing or sending your resume and a list of your top 60-80 employment prospects to everyone you know. Enclose a note stating that you will call in a few days. Ask your contacts to review the list carefully and to indicate if they know anyone who works for any of the organizations. You truly want to talk to anyone, whether it is a janitor, secretary, or purchasing agent. By talking to that person you can learn if it is a good organization to work for, what its problems or strengths are, and even get inside information about the person who has power to hire you. Tell your contact what your strengths are and ask the person to call or email you if he or she hears of any openings. Tell the person that all you need is someone to contact and that you will take care of the rest. You are not asking for any great favors. You would certainly do the same for them.
Speaking to contacts is one of the most valuable things a person can do in a job search, yet few job hunters are willing to expend even the moderate amount of energy this strategy requires.
Create an Employer List
To conduct an effective job search you need a top-quality list of potential employers. The best resource to create that list is Reference USA, a database with 14 million U.S. businesses and 1.5 million Canadian businesses. Reference USA is available through most library systems. To use it you must have a library card for a library system that pays an annual subscription. Reference USA enables you to select organizations by industry, size, and location. The employer information includes all the industries the organization is involved in, its headquarters address along with branches, the names of key people, and sometimes bios of those managers. You can also save the information to your own database. The one limitation is that you can only access 25 organizations per day. If you access Reference USA from your home computer you can accumulate more than 100 per week. For more on how to use Reference USA see Appendix B.
Get Additional Help at Our Website
The full details of how to use a marketing letter, referrals, and direct contact, goes beyond the scope of this book. By going to Appendix B you’ll be able to access the details for carrying out this highly effective type of job search on our website. Using a marketing letter is a critical element in the success of this strategy.