The Levison Letter


Remember the à la mode!
A quick analysis of two emails 


April, 2014


So I'm sitting with my wife and another couple at The Lark Creek Inn restaurant in Larkspur, California.

We've just finished enjoying some great appetizers and hearty main courses. Our waiter approaches the table, surveys the empty plates, and instead of handing us dessert menus, says "I guess you don't want any dessert."

What the heck does he expect me to say? "No, my guests and I are all pigs, so we're going to cram down some pie and ice cream!"

The waiter just didn't make it very easy for us to order. He shut us down.

Dissolve: We're down the block and across the street at Fabrizio's and have finished our entrees. Fabrizio Martinelli himself comes over to our table with a tray of fabulous-looking desserts.

Before we can say a word, he launches into an enthusiastic description of every item. He even points out that the sorbet in the kitchen doesn't contain a single gram of fat. 
(I chose the cheese cake because Fabrizio is such a nice guy!)

So, have I given up copywriting and become a food critic?

Not at all. I just can't help noticing good and bad selling when it's staring me in the face. And it's good to stay sensitive to these issues. You see, we're so busy thinking about affiliate programs, click-through rates, and this week's business model that it's easy to forget some simple facts:


We have to be super salespeople.


We have to be dynamite motivators.


Our ultimate job is to SELL PRODUCT!

As I often say, this should be obvious but it apparently isn't. Let me prove the point by comparing two email messages. One I received, one I wrote.

We'll start with a message from a CEO kicking off a brand new e-newsletter. (I'm changing the name of the company.)

"Welcome to the inaugural issue of The Reporter, an online newsletter for the ABC Software community. The purpose of The Reporter is to keep our partners, customers and other interested parties up to date on events at the company. I am pleased to report that our first quarter was a period of tremendous progress for ABC Software. We've passed significant technology milestones which have enabled us to better serve our customers. These milestones include . . ." etc.


You get the picture. What we have here is an annual report masquerading as an email. In the email environment, this is death. You simply can't devote space to self-congratulation. You have to sell.


Now let's take a look at the start of an email that I wrote a while ago for Shockwave:

   "Hey, have we got something for you!

    Shockmachine. Free. Now.

    It's dynamite and it's waiting for you at:

    Why does Shockmachine deserve a place on YOUR hard drive?

    Well, first of all Shockmachine is free so it will cost
    you absolutely nada. (Not a bad selling point!)

    And that's just for starters. Here are four more great
    reasons to put Shockmachine to the test yourself right now." etc.

See what I mean? The copy, written for a GenX audience, is fun and quickly goes for the sale -- in this case, a click on a link.

The take-away message this month?

Don't forget that if you want to make money with email, snail mail, or on the Web, you must ultimately be a salesperson who uses every trick in the book to turn prospects into paying customers.

Important food for thought.


If you want to me to start writing motivating, benefits-oriented copy for you, consider this an invitation to get in touch. Whatever you need in the way of copywriting, I'd be glad to hear from you.



Check out the kind of results I get for my clients . .


. . . then give me a call at (415) 461-0672 or

email me at

I'd love to say hello in person!



How to get in touch . . .
Phone: (415) 461-0672
Fax: (415) 461-7738
Visit my Web site

Ivan Levison. Direct Mail, Email & Advertising Copywriting
14 Los Cerros Drive, Greenbrae, CA 94904
Phone (415) 461-0672      Fax: (415) 461-7738

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