28 May 2015 | 18 Comments
Is there anything that makes you less likely to read or respond to an e-mail than “Dear sir/madam”?
Lately it seems like I’ve been getting a lot of these messages, mostly from creators, artists, conventions, designers, and manufacturers. During my last two projects I also got a lot of similar messages from campaign-boosting services.
I ignore all of these messages. When an e-mail has a generic introduction and text, the message I receive is of ambivalence. The message wasn’t important enough to them to take a minute to look up my name or include a note specific to my company.
The unfortunate thing is that almost all of these messages (except for the campaign-boosting services) are lost opportunities for the sender. For all I know, they may have only been reaching out to Stonemaier Games, but the message comes across as a copy-and-paste to a dozen companies.
There is a little bit of ego in play here. I like to feel special or selected. You probably do too–it’s human nature.
Last year at Gen Con, a fairly well-known designer scheduled a pitch meeting with me. We played 30 minutes of his game, and we ultimately passed, but it was among the best games pitched to me.
A few months later, I heard this designer on a podcast. He mentioned that he had targeted two specific companies at Gen Con, and we were one of them. This came as a shock to me–I assumed he was showing the game to as many publishers as possible.
It could have made a significant difference at the pitch meeting if the designer had said, “I’m pitching my game specifically to Stonemaier because of X feature that fits well with Y attribute about you and your games.”
The same applies any type of first contact we creators make with anyone. That’s our chance to make a good first impression and hopefully get a response.
Fortunately, it’s really not difficult to personalize a message. Lead off with the person’s first name (if you can find it) and immediately follow with something that shows you actually know who they are and what they do. Then move on to the core message.
Of course, it also helps if have more than a superficial understanding or knowledge of the person you’re contacting. For example, I frequently get messages from people with Kickstarter questions even though I say in multiple places that I’ll only answer those questions if they’re posted as comments on relevant blog entries.
The 2 minutes it takes to research personalize that first-contact e-mail can be the difference between a deleted message and a long-lasting professional relationship. It’s worth the time.
Do you feel the same way about generic vs. personalized messages?