The Two Things I Learned in 4 Years at the University...

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Did you go to college? If so, do you remember what you learned?

When I look back at 4 years in college and what I learned, I realize that I came away with only two bits of information that absolutely stuck with me - and that have any bearing on my life.

Both of them came from just one class - a business writing class.

Both of them are still important to me and to my business today. Here they are:

1. Find out the name of the person you're writing to, use it, and spell it correctly.

That means you don't begin a letter with "Dear Sir."

Although it's easy to customize your letters when you're using e-mail autoresponders, it can be an overwhelming job if you're doing a postal mailing to a large list. So what to do? 

In copywriting classes we learned that if you absolutely can't write to individuals, at least go with something that's more personal and appealing than "Dear Sir." You can write "Dear Fellow Pet Lover," or "Dear Mytown Homeowner," but it's still not a wonderful solution.

My answer to that is to send a newsletter instead of a letter that is supposed to be personal but isn't. Then make it so interesting, with such compelling headlines, that they'll read it even though it's obviously a mass mailing.

2. Never, ever, ever, begin a letter with the words "I" or "We."

This rule was reinforced in every book I read and every course I took when I started studying copywriting.

It's THAT important.

And yet, it's probably one of the most frequently broken rules in do-it-yourself marketing. People just can't seem to resist focusing on themselves instead of their prospects when they sit down to write. That's probably also the reason why so many marketing efforts never get off the ground.

So... what did you learn way back when that has stayed with you ever since?




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Mark VanBuskirk
Cassidon Realty - Lehighton, PA
PA REALTOR Specializing in Carbon & Monroe County

Thanks for the excellent insight into writing... does that mean if Implement these two time proven truths I might receive a honary degree from your 4 year university! LOL

Mar 17, 2011 09:13 PM #1
Roseanne Campagna
John L. Scott RE Maple Valley, WA - Maple Valley, WA
Kent/DesMoines/Blk Diamond/Renton/Maple Valley, WA

Interesting topic - After attending a collaborative art college -

Exposed to the experience:

1) I learned that the instruction is not always what you might expect.

2) There is a power struggle between students and faculty on expectations in curriculum.

Funny though - Academically:

1) Discovered I can learn about history quite easily if it is through the arts; but if you want me to memorize dates of wars and generals, forget I have a brain.

2) I learned that in physics without movement no work is done no matter how hard you push on something. I sometimes feel this way about real estate! ;o)

Mar 17, 2011 09:44 PM #2
Clint Mckie
Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections - Carlsbad, NM
Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586

 Hi Marte, Good post. If I am mad at someone "I" use "HEY YOU" to open the letter. Does that count? LOL

Thanks' Clint

Mar 17, 2011 11:21 PM #3
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Mark - I don't know. I attended the University of Idaho - you might write and ask them. They might want you to take a few other classes though.

Roseanne - You have no doubt been in college a lot more recently than I have! I don't recall any of the students thinking we could or should have a say about curriculum. It just was what it was.

I know what you mean about the dates and the names. They simply don't stick in my head. Neither did the periodic table or hundreds of other little facts that I have no use for in daily life.

Clint - That might get their attention - not so sure about their cooperation.

Mar 18, 2011 09:46 AM #4
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