How To Make a Sale Without Even Trying

A great piece of sales copy can show up where you’d least expect it. With an impact you might not expect either. At levels you never imagined. Take this letter below, sent to a friend of the CR, from a company called “Dove Construction.”

 This appeared in Penny Thomas’ mailbox, on the company’s official stationary…


Ms Penelope Thomas

[address deleted]

 Dear Penelope:

As you may be aware, DOVE CONSTRUCTION has started work at your neighbor’s home located at [address deleted].

 We at DOVE CONSTRUCTION want you to know that there may be some early morning noise and some dirt tracked into the street during rear addition construction.

 At times, due to circumstances beyond our control, such as sleet and rain, it is very difficult to contain the resulting mud.

Be aware that it is only for a short time during the construction process.  We assure you that we will always do our best to maintain a clean and quiet job site for our customer and you, their neighbor.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.  Should you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us at the number listed above.


Tom Cerami, President


Did the construction company have to send out this letter? No. In fact, as Penny told me, plenty of construction companies came through the same area, happy to crank up their jackhammers… without the slightest nod to the neighbors.

Yet, here’s a company that took what would otherwise be a net negative — all the noise and attention they were about to draw — and turned it around.

With a simple letter.

Penny was so impressed, she wrote a letter right back. And sent it directly to the company’s president…

Mr. Tom Cerami


Dove Construction, LLC

[address deleted]

 Dear Mr. Cerami,

 I greatly appreciated your notice that you were starting work at [address deleted].  Homeowners really like to know what is happening in their neighborhood.  I also want to congratulate you on a good piece of marketing.

 Your letter accomplished a number of things:

 * I found out my neighbors were getting an addition

 *It made me curious – I’m now watching construction

 * It might have satisfied local building regulations

 But most important:

 * It told me you were a responsible contractor

 * And, if I want a contractor, I have your information at hand.

 Your letter was the first I have ever seen from a contractor subtly and elegantly advertising his business – and there have been many contractors working in the neighborhood over the years.  Great job.  More effective I am sure than just a sign on the site.

 I am a freelance copywriter, specializing in marketing – so I appreciated your letter.  My web site www.pennythomas.com has some writing samples and information about me.

 Take a moment to look at it and see if I can be of service to you. If you need, or know someone who needs, a copywriter to put together marketing material – brochures, lead-generating letters, business letters, space ads, web-site copy or such – please think of me.


 Penny Thomas, Copywriter


Hey… whoa… wait a minute.

Did you see what just happened there? Go read it again.

 In the short construction letter, the construction company has, indeed, done plenty — the goodwill generated, the promises made, the contact information for questions and more.

 Penny is right to be impressed. But then comes an even smarter move, on her part. She writes back to praise the construction company. But Penny, quick on her feet, hasn’t forgotten that construction businesses need copy… and that Penny just happens to be a trained copywriter.

 A point she mentions with equal subtlety in her letter. Great idea! And this, of course, is the way it’s supposed to work too. Should Penny get a copywriting gig with this local construction firm, it should be a breeze… because it’s a company she’s actually happy to sell.

 What’s this mean for the rest of us? Simple.

 If you run a business, consider… how many opportunities do you have to interact with customers or even prospective customers, where a little extra copy effort might “up” the value of the contact? Thank you notes for email signups or orders… renewal notices… post-sale follow-up messages… customer service surveys or technical support…

 The list could go on.

 Every one of those opportunities can do a lot more than just communicate functional data. They could sell your new customers… and re-sell your existing ones. Subtly. Aggressively. Whatever’s right for the moment. Yet, so many marketers miss that opportunity.

 Likewise, if you write copy… how many chances to sell your talents to the businesses you know and trust have you overlooked? Company websites… local sales brochures… online ads and sales letters… print ads in local papers… even P.R. pieces or ezine editorial.

 It might be the small gigs that get you started. It might be the big opportunities that let you smack the cover off the ball at your first at bat. Either way, I’ve met plenty of people who had no grasp about what role copywriters play.

 But when I point out just how much of the written marketing word they see in a day, their eyes start to open. It’s everywhere. When you realize that, it can be like flicking on a light switch. Tough to find clients? Not at all. Try looking closer to home — or at least, closer to your own interests — and you might surprise yourself.

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