Sadly, some people do fall victim. However, from a strictly communications standpoint, these pitch ‘letters’ are fascinating. They are also horrendously bad. And that’s why they are worth dissecting.
Let’s take a look at a current email scam ‘letter’ now making the rounds. My comments are in italics:
Hello, I am Mr XXXXX from Malaysia. Some years back, I invested some amount of money in properties in Ontario, Canada and I have a second thought about the environment and presently I have just resold the house back to XXXXX Inc. which is due for payment. I wanted the Due-funds transferred to my account by XXXX, but the issuing company/Investor said that they cannot transfer more than Fifty Thousand Dollars to any bank account outside North America/south America within one month (30days).
For goodness sake (or should that be badness sake, in this case?), get to the point in your pitches. 1) A 40-word opening sentence is a snoozer that leaves a reader gasping for breath. That’s not a great way to start a pitch. 2) Connect with your audience. They immediately want to know why they should they care and what does this mean for me? If you emphasize ‘I’ right off the bat, you’re too self-absorbed. Write for your audience. 3) Stick to a single theme early. Cram too many themes into your opening and readers won’t know what the heck is your point. Too many details = information overload. 4) Have a great story as a hook. Storytelling is one of the most overlooked tools in writing good pitches. 5) If you’re going to go back in the past as the opening for your pitch, it better be a strong story! Always evaluate the past vs present vs future when you are developing the best hook.
Meanwhile, I have tried to open an account with XXXX in Texas and XXXXX in California in United States but I need to be physically presence to sign the mandate.
1) More self-absorption. 2) Proofread your pitch! 3) Beware location clutter too early in pitch. We’re only two paragraphs into the pitch and already three countries, one province, and two states have been mentioned. This is an example of being all over the map too fast!
I must confess that this is not possible now because I am medically down to make such a long distance trip. So, I was told to provide a contact in Canada, or United States of America to receive the funds on my behalf. I am in need of your assistance on this matter, if you could help receive the funds and forward to me.
1) Really, really weak call to action. It’s a selfish plea. It starts with ‘I’ and ends with ‘me’. #Fail. Actually, make that a #DoubleFail hashtag. 2) Your audience wants to know why their donation matters. Don’t just tell them. Show them by creating a compelling story of what their action will achieve!
Sincerely, you are not going to face any risk in rendering assistance. AND PLEASE TAKE NOTE THAN YOU ARE NOT SPENDING ANY MONEY ON THIS AND I WILL OFFER YOU 12% OF THE MONEY YOU RECEIVE.
1) DON’T SHOUT AT YOUR AUDIENCE!
Once he received your response, I will send you the contact details of the investor in Canada so that you can open talk with him. Looking forward to hearing from you.
1) Weak ending. Great storytelling usually includes a great ending. It’s your last chance, provided your audience gets this far, to inspire your readers. Try to save a great nugget for the end, rather than having your pitch end with a thud!
1) Proofread! (Didn’t we going over this earlier?) 2) There are 13 mentions of ‘I’ in this pitch. Yup, that also spells bad if you are superstitious. There’s nothing like making a bad pitch so obviously bad. Don’t just count your words and sentence lengths. Look for overuse of words!