Cover emails that introduce a presentation are very important. It is the first thing the recipients sees. And given that more and more emails are read on smartphones that are not very good at handling attachments (still), they have become more important.
Here are 2 poor cover emails:
- One that says too little: "Please see the attached business plan"
- One that says too much: the whole pitch cramped into the body of the email with out the visual support of your slides
The enemies we are fighting: getting ignored (the email is not opened), or getting deleted/archived before the whole message has had a chance to come across.
What can you do better?
- A good subject line. If it is a cold email, use the full space you have, almost like a Tweet. Good subject lines intrigue, they don't have to tell the whole story. Good subject lines tell more or less what you want.
- Write who you are, how you got to the recipient, what you do (no intriguing here, super factual and super short, let the recipient put you in a box) and say what you want.
- The body of the email is all about intriguing. Unlike when you are in the room where you can stand in front of the door to prevent people from leaving, here, it is you versus the mouse click:
- Think very hard about what the intriguing aspects of your story are. Every pitch has usually only one, or two. (A completely counter intuitive approach to solve an issue, a truly unique team, etc.)
- Forget about the classical business plan story line, you need to get these intriguing aspects across as soon as possible, BUT think of a story flow that allows you to do that. In most cases you need to educate the recipient a bit before you can deliver the key surprise.
- As you add more content, think hard: does this line increase my chance of a response (pick up the phone, click the attachment, write a reply)? Sometimes the best is to keep things short. Cut buzzwords, cliches, any baggage.
- Look at the typography, line breaks, paragraph lengths. Do the right things pop out?
In short, cover letters:
- Say who you are, what you do, and what you want
- Intrigue, even if that means to leaving out a lot of content, and/or mixing up the story flow.