It's nothing new.
Way back in the 1970s, "What Color Is Your Parachute?" shocked us with the reality that the professional who was best at applying for whatever got the whatever. That person was not necessarily the most qualified. Those of us who then focused on the how of applying found that we were more successful at not only getting jobs. For examples, we writers got more assignments. And we began making effective presentations on how to shake a raise loose from the organization.
What is new is that the medium has shifted to email. Despite the popularity of Facebook, blogging and Twitter so much commercial activity is initiated and then happens through email. That's exactly how I begin the process of hunting for new prospects for my executive communications boutique.
The Wall Street Journal hammers the need to have a subject head on the email which grabs attention - enough of it for the recipient to click it open. This in itself has become an art. Just as with search engine optimization (SEO), no formulas will create the homeruns. We have to continually be alert to what is effective and what no longer works. Here is that WSJ coverage.
Those who can't afford an email specialist can just hunker down and experiment on their own. That can begin with analyzing why you click open the emails you do. Then try out that tactic in your own promotional outreach.
It's a humbling process. I have known those who sent out about 500 unsolicited emails, with no response. But, if they got over that disappointment and then leveraged the negative lesssons they could finally get some opens. Those often generate better quality and better paying business for writers than does responding to help wanted.
What kind of subject heads do I recommend? Focus on the recipient, not yourself or your product or service. This goes back to Sales 101. You want recipients to anticipate that their lives or commercial enterprises will be easier, happier, more profitable, more fun and/or better connected.
Forget old tricks like creating urgency - such as only two more days to sign up for the conference. And make the first sentence of the first paragraph talk directly to the mind, heart and pocketbooks of recipients. Keep it short. Yes, you want to get in and out fast.
As you develop the effective subject line and the effective first paragraph, this pitching success will spill over to other forms of influence. No, none of this is easy. But all of it can turn out to be worth it. In 2013, my boutique went to the next level because of new business generated by unsolicited email.