Guidelines to follow if you want to grab the attention of chief-level executives.
I've worked on promoting many events for C-level executives in my time. So when I was recently called in to help a major company revamp its invitation to a C-level event, it took over an hour and a half for me to analyze the copy and design approach. But it soon became clear why the company had only received nine responses instead of reaching its goal of 100 CEOs.
What went wrong?
First of all, it's nearly impossible to get top-level executives to even open your e-mail. An invitation should be sent via postal mail in such an elegant, personal envelope that an administrative assistant would never think of throwing it away. Or it could be sent via Federal Express.
Once you've sent the invitation by mail, try following up by e-mail, though a telephone call is the better way to go.
However, if you're short on time and budget and your only option is an e-mail invitation, below are some guidelines to follow.
Once you succeed in persuading CEOs to accept your invitation, continue working to keep them engaged. Send an immediate acknowledgment with registration details. If it's a free event, plan for a high no-show rate; prevent attrition with periodic, polite e-mail and telephone reminders.
Keep in mind, not everyone has the expertise to write knowledgeably to CEOs. When I started writing for "Fortune," "BusinessWeek," and "The Economist," I had to ascend a steep learning curve to take my casual writing style to the next level. Fortunately, I had very able teachers, experienced communicators who taught me their own corporate writing style.
The very best piece of advice I can give you is this: Don't put your junior writers in charge of writing to senior executives. You must write at the same level of your readers. With a CEO audience, call in an expert copywriter or communications specialist and be prepared to pay a writing fee commensurate with that experience.
Remember, this isn't about dashing off an e-mail. It's about forging a relationship with a CEO who has the ultimate authority to approve your contracts. Need I say more?
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Karen Gedney, an award-winning creative director and copywriter, shared her insights as a ClickZ Experts contributor from 2000 through 2009. She was known for her successful track record of achieving high e-mail response rates for Fortune 1000 companies and leading organizations. She died Nov. 16, 2010.
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