Why a Marketing Cover Letter Matters So Much
The Right Marketing Cover Letter Gets Your Foot in the Door
To someone trying to break into or upgrade their job in the exciting field of marketing, a marketing cover letter is as vital as any other element of your job search, including your resume. After all, as a marketer, your entire JOB is all about finding a way to communicate why the customer should choose your company's product over a competitor. As it happens, that is exactly the same objective of the well-written marketing cover letter! The only difference is that YOU, as the job candidate are the PRODUCT.
Consequently, for the Hiring Manager, the quality of the applicant's marketing cover letter is not something to consider in addition to their qualifications for the job... it is a demonstration of whether the candidate does (or does not) have the needed skills. So it's got to be great to get you a seat across from the marketing manager and a chance to tell him or her more about why you are the best choice for the job.
Luckily, writing a great marketing cover letter is a lot easier than convincing someone that there's any real difference between, say Coke and Pepsi.
As a candidate, you've got a unique set of skills, training, interests, experiences and ideas that make you perfect for the marketing job. It's the task of the marketing cover letter to highlight these skills, and more importantly, to make it CLEAR and OBVIOUS to the reader that these are EXACTLY the skills, experience, training, interests, etc... etc... etc... that the job requires.
How The Marketing Cover Letter Is Your Best Selling Tool
The best way to think of writing the interview-landing, job-getting marketing cover letter is to think of the letter as your super salesman that has barged into the Hiring Manager's office and started pitching him or her on purchasing (hiring) you. What sort of things would this super-salesman have to do for you to make that happen?
First, naturally, the salesman would have to get into the right office. This sounds elementary, but you wouldn't believe how many cover letters get tossed without a second glance because they are addressed to the wrong person, or to "To Whom It May Concern."
Next, the Hiring Manager's undivided attention. Without that vital element, the sales pitch wouldn't be likely to have much effect. So your super-salesman marketing cover letter should start with something a little out of the ordinary... something to stand out and say "here's what you are looking for!"
A good way to do this is with an ALL-CAPS, BOLD headline that summarizes your availability in one line. Something like AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY: RESULTS-ORIENTED MARKETING PROFESSIONAL puts the Hiring Manager on notice immediately in regards to what's coming next.
Now that the salesman has gotten into the right office and has gotten the Hiring Manager's attention, the next step is to show the hirer thorough knowledge of what the Hiring Manager needs. This might require some research online, in various business publications or by talking to contacts in the industry. Is the company trying to break into a new market, reclaim market share that has been lost to a competitor, bringing out a lot of new products? The more you know about these issues, the stronger case your marketing cover letter can make for you. That's because by proving knowledge of the specific business problem that the manager hopes to solve with the hire, the salesman sets him or her up for the next and most important step.
Now Make Your Case
That step is, logically, proving that YOU and YOU ALONE are the best solution to those specific business problems. Your super salesman is building a case for you, using your background and experience as the building blocks of that case.
Does the business depend on face-to-face sales? Your marketing cover letter must show that you have extensive experience in face-to-face sales. Show the results that you accomplished selling that way. Give an example of how your accomplishments were beneficial to the company you worked for. In this phase of the letter, you want for the Hiring Manager to imagine you at your former workplace solving exactly the same problems that he or she needs you to solve for your prospective employer.
But the great super-salesman marketing cover letter doesn't stop there. It's not enough to simply say that you UNDERSTAND the prospective employer's business problem. It's not enough to have worked doing exactly what the prospective employer needs done to solve their problems. It's not even enough to show that you solved exactly the problems that your prospective employer faces.
Show How Much You Want It
You've got to show that you have PASSION for solving those problems. This makes a lot of sense when you think about it. If you had to choose between someone who was just showing up and "doing their job" or someone that loves doing what they do, you would choose the person that love their job every time. So after you've shown that you have solved the problem, put a sentence or two or three saying why you love solving that problem and meeting the challenge that it presents.
This doesn't have to be fancy. Just say something like "the part of the job that excites me the most is being able to work with the client and become more like a partner providing a solution than simply another vendor pushing a product."
A word of warning on the passion statement though. This is an area where people often tend to be very, very unoriginal. For instance, you wouldn't believe how many people say in teacher's cover letters that they "love kids." To the Hiring Manager, a stale and cheesy statement like this sets off alarm bells. So in this section be honest, be original and keep it short and simple.
At this point, the super salesman marketing cover letter is ready to close the deal. He's introduced himself, shown an understanding of the customer's (Hiring Manager's) problem, and introduced the perfect solution (you). Now, he has to get the Hiring Manger to do the next step it takes to get you into the job.
Now Get In There
For the marketing cover letter, this means very simply ASKING FOR THE INTERVIEW. Like addressing the marketing cover letter to the right person, this is another piece of advice that seems so simple and obvious that it shouldn't need to be written down. But there are thousands of examples of cover letters that just lay out the candidate's qualifications for display, then stop there. These letter writers must assume that the Hiring Manger will jump into action without being asked to. These letter writers are wrong.
Come out and say "I look forward to sharing my enthusiasm for this opportunity with you in person." Then tell the Hiring Manager how to make that happen. For example "Please call me at 384/887-9890 so we can set up a time for an interview." Then write "Thank you," a comma, and your name.
If you follow these instructions, you've already produced a marketing cover letter that will beat 90% of the other applicants. But you aren't through yet. You are going to add a final touch that will put your letter over the top.
That final touch is the secret weapon that virtually guarantees that your letter will get read, when others don't. That secret weapon: The humble Post Script.
P.S. Should Really Mean "Probably Seen"
Known by its initials, the lowly Post Script has an almost magical quality for gathering attention and demanding to be read. Study after study has shown that for most people, the Post Script is the first, and often only, part of a letter that gets read.
Something about a piece of information that was so important that the letter writer felt compelled to add it after the letter had been typed and signed appears to compel people to read it.
Adding a P.S. will catch the eye of the reader and make him or her check out what you have to say. For that reason, your cover letter should end with one just about every time. Something like "P.S. I am very excited about this opportunity. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss it with you very soon."
Now you're finished. If you were clear and concise, this marketing cover letter shouldn't be more than a couple of paragraphs long and a page at the very, very most. Most Hiring Managers have many, many more marketing cover letters to look at than open positions. As a result, they won't spend the time to read more than a page.
Run spellcheck, then print it up, and proofread it. If you have time, give it to someone else to check for grammar and spelling mistakes. Now put it in an envelope and mail it with a resume. Or if you're sending your marketing cover letter online, cut and paste it into the body of the email and attach a resume.
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