Do you have any idea what he’s selling?

I received this direct response solicitation today via e-mail. Other than my comments (in red), I swear to God, I did not alter a thing.  Truth is funnier and sadder than fiction.  I checked.  This is a real business in Des Moines.

I have changed the names to protect the guilty.  But, this is why we all have jobs.  People actually send this garbage out.

Mr. McLelland,  (Not how my name is spelled)

My name is Name Here and I (am?) the new Principal (is it a school?) at Vague Name Here.  Vague Name Here is a company with over 20 years or (of?) serving the region.  We recently have taken a new direction and with the new year are re-introducing ourselves to our communities.  I want the name Vague Name Here to be synonymous in your mind with quality service. More than synonymous–I want them to be one and the same. In fact, when you think "quality," "reliability," "versatility," or "power," I want you to think Vague Name Here.  (How about…telling me what the heck you do??)

We are a leader. We work with leaders. And our history of innovation and support to keep you ahead of the curve.  (Is this a sentence that makes sense to anyone?) Our experience in the management, finanical, (Is that a spelling error from the company who wants to be synonymous with quality?) technology and other fields proves (prove not proves?)  this and our unique approach to helping your business succeed through our management seminars and strategy sessions is always a way to start the new year to help focus your staff on their goals and directions in the new year.  (The longest sentence known to man. And I have no idea what he was trying to say.)

It is my pleasure to introduce the new Vague Name Here Management.  It’s focused on the customer, listening to his or her issues and challenges, and finally meeting those challenges with products, services, and resources unmatched in quality and functionality.

Vague Name Here is better than ever.

  • With resources in four states we can cover you as you expand through the country.
  • With a unique insight into technology and business we can help you better utilize you (your?) technology within your business increase (perhaps to increase?) productivity, and revenues while decreasing your cost structure.
  • With our relationship with many financial (look, he spells it right here!) institutions we can assist you in keepin (is that folksy for keeping?) a sustainable capitable (seriously…this is how he spelled capital?) base allowing your company to grow and prosper.
  • With our management and marketing resources we can assist you in delivering performace (some of us actually spell it performance?) to your business accelerating growth and reaching height (heights?) previously thought to be unattainable.

And that’s just the beginning. Take a moment to discover the new Vague Name Here. And then visit our new website to see how we’ve changed. I will be calling in a few days to schedule a time I can stop by your office and discuss with you ways we can assist you as you successfully run your business. We are committed to your satisfaction and welcome your feedback. We’ll do all we can to make your experience with us positive.

As always, thank you for choosing Vague Name Here.

Name Here
Vague Name Here Management Inc.

That is not sad, it is pathetic.  I still have no idea what they sell.   The author should have checked out Grammar Girl’s post on proofreading tips!

Any suggestions on what I should say if/when he calls?

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19 comments on “Do you have any idea what he’s selling?

  1. Yikes! Beyond pathetic. Yet my guess is that this was written by the company CEO or administrative assistant or even office temp. Why? Because so many micro/small companies still think the investment in an experienced marcomm copywriter is too high so they’ll do it themselves or give it to any live body in the office.

    (I once had a ex-client exclaim, “What, why so high? It’s just words afterall!” – and he wasn’t being ironic. Sheesh.)

    When you add the cost of the postage, list, and printing, how costly do you think this promotion was?

    Double yikes!

    BTW, major kudos on making the Top 25 list. I’m soooo jealous :=)

  2. Mark True says:

    I’m at a loss for words. And that’s unusual.


  3. Unbelievably frightening and sad. Thanks for sharing. It’s a grounding example.

  4. Jack Hayhow says:

    Drew: I’m usually a lot more interested in what folks are doing well rather than what they’re doing poorly (which is why I’m not a fan of most of the Seth Godin posts) – BUT, this one is so over the top that I’m glad I read it. My guess is you don’t have to worry about what to say when they call, I’m pretty sure they won’t remember they sent the mail.

  5. Roberta,

    I can forgive a minor error or two, but this is like they didn’t even bother to re-read it once it was written.

    My 13-year old was laughing at some of the mistakes!

    But you are right. Clients often back away from paying for writing. They think anyone can write. And clearly, that is not the case.

    Thanks for the congrats. With all the great marketing blogs gettings z-list attention, my place on the Top 25 list may be short-lived! But I will take it for as long as I can keep it!


  6. Mark,

    You made me laugh out loud. The imagine of you speechless is one I had never even considered!


  7. C.B.

    The really sad part of this is that letters like these get sent every day.

    How is that honoring your customer or potential customers?


  8. Jack,

    Your point is well taken but I do think we can learn from others’ misjudgements. And they serve to remind us that trust and respect are delicate and we need to be very careful not to damage them at the outset.

    I’m curious Jack — do you find most people do it well?


  9. J.G. says:


    Take the high road. Call him. Tell him you are interested but confused. One by one, ask him to clarify all the mistakes in his e-mail. I think he’ll get the point very quickly. You may even gain a customer.

  10. Like you said, this is why we copywriters have jobs. The kindest thing you can do for this guy is to email your article to him. Otherewise this poor guy will keep wasting his time and money. It might also convince him to hire you, which will really be the best thing for him.

    Charles Brown

  11. Good suggestions – I like the idea of contacting him. He might appreciate the input… or not.


  12. J.G. — I actually sent him a very gentle e-mail just giving him a heads up that I had found quite a few typos and confusing sentences in his e-mail to me and that he might want to have someone proof it before he sent it to anyone else.

    He hasn’t responded yet.


  13. Charles,

    As I told JG, I did send him a note. We’ll see if he responds.

    I also suggested that he identify exactly what his company is selling in the first paragraph.

    I’ll keep you all posted!


  14. Susan Weiner says:

    This is hilarious!

    I found you through Charles Brown’s blog.

  15. Susan,

    Glad you stumbled upon us! Stop by again soon!


  16. Edward,

    One of the rules that any good copywriter follows is proof your work. Have others proof your work.

    If you do that, you will already be miles ahead of the gentleman who wrote this solicitation.

    Good luck in your career!


  17. Amy says:

    Maybe his company sells a “spell check” software?!?

  18. Amy,

    Ahhh, you win for funniest quip in this post! Of course that’s what he does!

    Actually, its a technology company that apparently has never heard of spellcheck!


  19. Drew says:

    Just curious. I posted a link to this article on my own website and was going back over old articles. Did this guy ever get back to you?

    It strikes me that this would make a great follow up article.

    Charles Brown

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