My father-in-law, who works in real estate, is fond of quoting something he’s often heard from people he’s worked with during his 40+ years in the business (Imagine a thick Italian accent):

“Don’t worry. Just order the concrete.”

I’m led to think of this statement when I think of an e-mail I’ve received a few times recently. I only realized that it was junk mail after reading through the whole thing because – unlike most such messages – it used simple and correct spelling and grammar, spoke to me, flowed well, and had no strange or distracting formatting. In other words, a decently-written, positive-sounding note.

I didn’t recognize the sender, but that isn’t always a barrier, since I do after all hope to hear from interested new clients from time to time.

But it became clear once I had that this was a “boilerplate” broadcast message. Why? It was its abstract, unspecific nature of the message that tipped me off that this was a form letter destined for a huge group of people…and which intended to flatter us into responding.

Read for yourself and see what you think:

“Hello%%FirstName%%, (Yes, they even forgot to insert my name!)

I’d love the opportunity to talk to you about your resume! Your credentials are very impressive, your background and track record closely resemble some other highly successful individuals. We have worked with many such professionals and helped them realize their dreams to become successful entrepreneurs. Based on your resume, I can see that you are quite accomplished in your field and may welcome the chance to apply your expertise in a more entrepreneurial setting.

Recession has touched us all, but some industries have turned it into a business growth opportunity. Franchising is one industry where success, profitability and economic stability have actually made incremental strides. My role is to carefully select and personally invite qualified individuals to explore franchising in all its potential and you fit the profile.

With your background in management and leadership positions adding weight to your credentials, I am confident that you are likely a great fit.”

Do you see why I call it ‘abstract’ and ‘unspecific’?

There’s nothing here that says what I’ve specifically done, or what my “field” is. And there are no concrete examples, numbers or other details to back up their claim about the success of the franchising industry or their stake in it:  just a stack of conceptual puffery in the holy trinity of “success, profitability and economic stability.”

In other words, the message could really benefit from an order of concrete.

The writer might indeed be from a legitimate business and be writing for the the reasons they say…or they could be aiming to scam me or phish my information, using flattery to lure me in.  Either way, I won’t be taking the time to find out.

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