Is this weak opening line polluting your inbox, too?

Chief Creative Officer

“It was all just a pack of lies.”

That’s a hook I’ve always admired—both for its pulling power and its unlikely source.

It was the first sentence in a letter my friend Phil’s mother wrote to every parent of our high-school class.

Like many teenagers, Phil had no problem hosting a party. He just did a lousy job of concealing it. And thanks to his mom, we were all staring at the manicured end of her accusatory finger.

In my defense, I didn’t arrive until the local police had cleared everybody out. So, I wasn’t responsible for unspooling a single lie—let alone a whole pack of them.

But I still came away with a valuable lesson.

Because that letter has served as an enduring reminder that your first sentence’s job is to make someone read the next one. 

So, why do legions of sales and marketing professionals insist on beginning their emails with “I hope you’re doing well” or something equally insincere?

You’ve seen these, right?

Some of the craftier imbeciles attempt to shift the blame to the note itself with “I hope this email finds you well.” But we all know that an email can’t have feelings for us, just as it can’t do our taxes or roll a burrito.

Just for fun, I took a quick scroll through my deleted folder to see how widespread this concern for my well-being actually is. 

I pulled out 131 ice-cold emails and stuck them in a folder labeled “phony baloneys.”

That’s pretty coarse language for my Canadian subscribers, so whaddaya say we grab a few and see if we can write better opening lines? Inject a little more good into the world.

Alright, send in the clowns. (Names have been changed to protect the guilty.)

🤡 Here’s what Rachel at Jon Rose Management had to say …

Hello Matt, 

Hope you are well! 

Jon Rose, founder of Waves 4 Water is coming to NY. Humanitarian, former pro-surfer, adventurer, brand ambassador, on-camera personality and public speaker—he works with numerous brands from automobiles, beverages to fashion & beauty. 

Please let me know if you would like to meet him? Alternatively if you think there could be a good alignment with him and your brand, would love to discuss further. 

Poor Jon Rose. This guy is devoting his life to bringing clean water to the masses while his representation urinates in the well through lazy prospecting.

Forget the needless exclamation point at the front. Forget the absence of any attempt to connect with me in the first paragraph. What makes this a real clangor is how Rachel puts the burden of determining if Jon would be a good fit for our brand on me at the end.

If Rachel had done her homework, she would have seen that Cox Automotive is one of our clients, and a company that embeds sustainability into every aspect of their business. So, she could have opened her missive with something like …

Hi, Matt— 

Have you ever thought about promoting Cox Automotive’s commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly business practices to help fuel their leadership in the automotive industry? 

Right from the jump, this opener poses a thoughtful question while involving me and something specific about my client. So, when Jon Rose eventually makes an appearance, the writer has already established his relevance in the conversation. And even if Jon isn’t a good fit today, I may tuck this note away for a future recommendation knowing that his people care enough to do some digging before reaching out.

Next victim …

🤡 This is Christina. She’s an email marketing consultant (though she’s hopefully changed careers by now).

Hi Matthew, 

I hope you are doing well. 

I was going through your LinkedIn profile and came across some of the things FARM Buffalo is working on, and we believe our solutions could be a good fit. 

It got me thinking, and I wanted to see if you’d be interested in having a conversation to learn more. 

Christina’s note is a stunning example of taking one step forward and 87 steps back. 

Visiting my LinkedIn profile was a great place to start. And just like that, I’ve run out of compliments because she did nothing else to personalize her note. 

You “came across some of the things”? What exactly caught your eye? You believe your “solutions could be a good fit”? How, Christina, how? And all that “got you thinking”? I’m not buying it because this is one of the most thoughtless emails I’ve ever received. 

If Christina had visited our website (because you won’t find what we’re “working on” on my LinkedIn profile), she could have better tailored her pitch with …

Hi, Matthew, 

I was just on your website and read Dave Gardner’s latest article on how you help your clients use their own CRM data to create digital IDs, segment customer types, and build new audience profiles to sharpen their digital marketing. 

This shows me that Christina took the time to consume content on our website before suggesting that her offerings may complement ours. Step two would’ve been emailing Dave directly. Such a pity.

OK, last one …

🤡 Meet Roland from Luminer. This guy breaks my heart because he has multiple product lines, serves a range of industries, and boasts a roster of impressive clients like The Home Depot and Walmart.

If only he had a more attention-grabbing lead line to draw me in.

Good morning, 

I hope all is well. My name is Roland from Luminer Converting Group, a Premium Label & Packaging Solutions company. 

Are you experiencing any challenges with your company’s labels or flexible packaging? 

Our mission is to solve any label or flexible packaging challenge with a unique quick-turn model that puts exceptional quality, speed, and customer service first. I’ve been helping a lot of other companies with much faster lead times (only 1-2 weeks) while saving them money. 

I’m not going to rewrite this one since I don’t know enough about the label and packaging industry to build a compelling email. But Roland’s mention of “challenges” makes me think this could have been the perfect time to use the problem-agitation-solution framework.

If timing and cost were common issues for his clients, he could have begun by describing a relatable situation that made me feel anxious before positioning his solutions as a clear escape from misery. 

If you’re out there, Roland … call me. I could learn to love labels, too.

So, that was kind of a happy ending, right?

Also, I know I said I’d never sell you anything with this newsletter. So, I’m not. But if you wanna review any of your sales copy to see if we can make it more inviting, hit reply. It’ll cost you ZILCH, I promise.

Complimentary copy counsel not your thing? No problem.

Here’s a song to play you out >>> 

See you next time. – Matt

If you want a fresh marketing nugget emailed to you every two weeks, join here.

Sharing this:
Chief Creative Officer
Matt is a professional storyteller. That used to be a thinly veiled way to say you still lived with your parents. But the truth is stories have existed since the dawn of humanity and they still have the power to move people, even if it’s no longer from the path of a charging mammoth. Throughout his career on both the agency and client sides, Matt’s work has been known to compel audiences to indulge in higher thread counts, abandon Lenten sacrifice, or move to the suburbs. He’ll even conjugate a noun if he has to. The bottom line: Matt is our agency twofer. Strategy and Creative. The Big Idea and Stealth Deployment. He’s a single expense yielding a dual return. And who doesn’t love a bargain?

Our Take

Nobody likes to hear people squawk about marketing. So, we wrote it all down for you.

This website stores cookies on your computer.

These cookies are used to collect information about how you interact with our website and allow us to remember you.  We use this information in order to improve and customize your browsing experience and for analytics and metrics about our visitors both on this website and other media.  To find out more about the cookies we use see our privacy policy.