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Syntax Training | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

March 22, 2017

Do You Write Lazy Emails?

Marketing expert Marcia Yudkin, author of No-Hype Copywriting: The Keys to Lively, Appealing, and Truthful Sales Writing, wrote her weekly email on a topic dear to my heart: lazy emails. With her permission, I quote her message in its entirety.


Do You Write Lazy Emails?

By Marcia Yudkin

Twice last week, I received emails that each amounted to a request. They simply asked - without explaining why and how the requested action would benefit me, my audience or anyone other than themselves.

I politely responded that the request wasn't relevant, and suddenly my correspondents got into gear to argue strenuously that I was mistaken. They then laid out their case, which had some merit and might have persuaded me to respond differently had they said all that at the beginning.

I see this tendency often in the initial drafts clients send me to review. It comes from a psychological blind spot.

When we're deep in a project whose advantages are deeply familiar to us, we assume the people we're targeting will grasp the substance and sparkle of the proposal without our having to spell it out.

You may have heard the story about Henry Kissinger sending his aide back time after time with the question, "Is this the best you can do?" Likewise, before pressing "Send," ask yourself, "Have I made the most vigorous and appealing case I can here?" If not, redo it.

Be explicit.


Like Marcia, I receive emails that make me do the work of figuring out why I should respond positively. For instance, people who want to write a guest blog post leave out their credentials, the topic they want to write about, and links to examples of their work. Rather than investing time, I respond, “Thank you. I’m not interested.”

Do you write lazy appeals—or receive them? If you receive them, do you take the time to ask additional questions? Or do you, like me, just say no?

If you work in marketing—in the broadest sense of that word—sign up for Marcia's free weekly "Marketing Minute." You'll get concise, interesting pointers on persuasive communication. It's the one newsletter I always read. 

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Lynn Gaertner-Johnston
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