Last Updated Sep 4, 2008 2:16 PM EDT
I just received a letter that is one of the worst examples of direct mail marketing I've ever seen from a major corporation. It's a real estate pitch, but the style and content is representative of lousy marketing everywhere. Here is the turkey, verbatim (the bracketed numbers refer to my comments below):
Dear Mr. and Mrs. JamesMy comments:
During the past few months, I have completed an intensive training program for real estate professionals through the Century 21 learning system.  With this recent training and my experience as a full service agent, I feel quite confident in my ability to help buyers and sellers with their real estate needs. 
Century 21 is one of the best real estate firms in the area due to the many educational programs promoting current market strategies, as well as many years of experience within the real estate community. In addition, we provide:
- Outstanding service to all clients.
- Market data that is always changing.
- Weekly updates for clients listing there homes.
- A wide variety of buying and selling tools.
It is great working with a company that has so much to offer their clients. If you or someone you know is considering buying or selling  property feel free to give out my name or business card  and I will do everything I can to meet their real estate needs.
-  OK, you're fresh out of school. So why would I want to work with you?
-  That's nice. Unfortunately, you've said absolutely nothing to make me feel confident in you.
-  Why do I get the impression that some marketing guy wrote this as boilerplate?
-  Experience doing what? Sending out awkward direct mail pieces? And compared to whom?
-  Outstanding in what way? Outstandingly bad? And by how much? And where's the proof?
-  Huh? Does this mean that the data is getting more accurate or less accurate or what?
-  And that's important because...? And what's with the typo?
-  Sounds like a hardware store. Why would I care? What do the tools do?
-  Glad you like it. Why should I care? What's with the grammatical error?
-  Trying to address two different markets weakens the entire pitch.
-  At this point it starts sounding positively desperate.
-  Why would I risk my friendships for somebody I don't know?
If you'd like to see how I would rewrite this direct mail letter, click to "How to Write a Sales Letter."
Does anyone have a worse example of a truly awful sales letter? I'm sure we'd all love to see it.