Sample: Restaurant Sales Letter

It’s Time for an adventure: enjoy great Cuban food and drink with me this Friday night at Iowa’s only Cuban restaurant, THE LOST CUBAN

Dear Laura,

You and I have often discussed the fact that we’re each bored with the dozen Chinese, Mexican, Italian, and other restaurants in the area, and I’d heard of the Lost Cuban, so it was on my short list of places to try.

BECAUSE GOOD FOOD ISN’T ALWAYS EASY TO FIND.

So, I recently tried the Lost Cuban, Cedar Rapids sole Cuban restaurant. I’m so very glad I did.

 The Lost Cuban is located in Cedar Rapids newly-revitalized downtown. I arrived after 6 pm, which is, happily, when the downtown parking meters and parking garages turn Free, so parking was a breeze.

The host was friendly and seated us right away, explaining the specials and taking our drink orders as we were seated. The restaurant is geared more to the lunch crowd, so it was brightly-lit with high-topped tables and stools, but the lack of atmosphere or mood-lighting was forgiven as soon as we tasted the food.

 GOOD CUBAN FOOD IS HARD TO FIND

The owners use the best and freshest ingredients available, and he uses recipes that were handed down from generation to generation in his family. As they put it, “Straight from abuelas recipe book to your plate.”

I’ve had some great Cuban Sandwiches before, but that was in larger, more cosmopolitan cities such as Los Angeles and Chicago, so I didn’t know what to expect from a Cuban restaurant here in Iowa. I need not have worried, the pulled pork was amazing, tender and juicy, and better than the pork at those bigger cities, and the Cuban bread, which was baked fresh on the premises, was wonderful. They even offered a pineapple habanero sauce that complimented the pulled pork perfectly and made my taste buds dance just a little.

My companion tried the slow-cooked Ropa Vieja, served with sides of yuca, plantains, and black beans. She said it was the best Ropa Vieja she’d ever tasted. Cuban Ropa Vieja is a delicious shredded flank steak marinated in tomato sauce with bell peppers, onions, garlic, and brown sugar and cooked slowly for at least 4 hours. Ropa Vieja is Spanish for Old Clothes, but the taste is amazing. Comfort food at its best.

Other specialities include fresh baked Cuban Bread, and Mojo Roasted Pork. All marinades and sauces are made from scratch.

You’ll love The Lost Cuban.

I’ll pick you up Friday at 7:00 PM.

Sincerely,

​Chris Becker

P.S.  They also have a newly-built full service Bar. The Mojitos were fantastic.

Creative Consultant?

One of my favorite titles to use for myself is Creative Consultant, which is an old end-credit from the motion picture industry. According to Wikipedia, Creative Consultant was a title used for a screenwriter who consulted on the script, but who didn’t actually do any credited writing on the finished script. Since Creative Consultant is not one of the approved WGA titles, it has fallen into disuse in favor of Executive Consultant,Story Consultant, Script Consultant or some similar WGA-approved title.

I often use the title Script Analyst, but that’s a completely different animal. A Script Analyst is a Reader, either the employee of a Production Company, Movie Studio, Talent Agency, or Public Relations firm, or an Indie contractor like me, who reads screenplays under submission, and writes Script Coverage on that script, for the purpose of either recommending that script or recommending that the company “Pass” on said script. Indie Script Analysts are most often contracted by screenwriters themselves. I have written coverage, I’ve even written or rewritten a solid logline for those scripts. In the case of doing Coverage for a writer, you’re actually recommending changes in story, plot, character development, theme, tone, what works and what does not work. I’ve been a Script Analyst for a Hollywood Publicist, but we were working for the screenwriter, so my job was as I just described, more of an editor or an uncredited writer than a true First Reader.

But, back to my job as a Creative Consultant.

I’ve been using Creative Consultant since sometime in the 1980s. Since I don’t work in the movie industry, I’ve adapted this old title for other purposes. Since my writing background and my talents are so varied… I’ve worked as a journalist, a stand-up comedian, a gag writer, a playwright, an ASCAP-member songwriter, an advertising copywriter, and a novelist… and that means that I am in a unique position to be a consultant and many different creative projects.

So, whether somebody, be they client or drinking buddy, need me to do something or advise them of something, or simply offer my opinion of something… something in the realm of Creativity that is… then whatever I come up with is, you guessed it, a Creative Consultation. It could be something as simple as, “What color looks better, red or blue?” “Purple.” “Purple? Ya think?” “Yes, I do.”

Tah-dah… Creative Consultant Chris Jay Becker, at your service. Here’s my PayPal information.

Of course, in REAL life I’m not quite that crass. After all, it’s not about ME, it’s about your project, your product, your creativity. I’m just here to help you realize your dreams, your goals, your vision. If I can use my many years as a freelance journalist, novelist, poet, stand-up comic, advertising copywriter, editor, or salesperson to help you realize those goals, then that’s what it’s all about.

What do I get out of it? Well, I do love writing. I also love editing. If I can make a few dollars doing those things, then that’s MY dream being realized. I’ve never been one of those artists or writers who create because I “Have something to say.” That’s a Rookie attitude. Nobody cares what I have to say. I don’t even care what I have to say.

Let’s make some Art. Or let’s sell some stuff.

Let’s do both.

Sincerely,

Chris Jay Becker

Tricks for Writing Drunk & Editing Sober

THE GREATEST WRITING MAXIM THAT HEMINGWAY NEVER SAID

“Write drunk, edit sober,” it’s an often-quoted bit of advice generally attributed to Ernest Hemingway. This pithy quote is all over the internet. You can buy Write Drunk Edit Sober posters, Write Drunk Edit Sober coffee mugs, and Write Drunk Edit Sober t-shirts, often accompanied by a photo of Papa Hemingway himself.

Write drunk edit sober. Never mind that Hemingway never actually said it. It’s actually a paraphrase of something 1960’s novelist Peter De Vries had his main character say in his 1964 novel “Reuben, Reuben.” in that book the character, a famous drunkard poet Gowan McGland, says, “Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober…”

You remember De Vries… he’s the guy who said, “I love being a writer… what I can’t stand is the paperwork,” another quote which has often been attributed to everyone from Hemingway to Capote to Groucho Marx. Poor De Vries is the Rodney Dangerfield of American novelists… the Quotation Gods never give him any respect.

Here’s the full McGland utterance:

“Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober, and sometimes I write sober and revise drunk. But you have to have both elements in creation — the Apollonian and the Dionysian, or spontaneity and restraint, emotion and discipline.”

Write drunk edit sober. To quote Yosemite Bear when he saw the double-rainbow, “What can this MEAN?”

Let’s dissect the chief elements of McGland’s fictional utterance, because there is just so much there:

WRITE DRUNK

Okay, most of us have done this, literally, at one time or other. For me, it’s a load of fun but it rarely produces readable copy. The whole Blakean ideal of a derangement of the senses in order to produce Art… it seems to work on some levels for some of us. In my personal experience, getting even a little out of ones head works well for short pieces like poetry, song lyrics, jokes, or story ideas. It doesn’t work at all for me when it comes to writing long stretches of story.

Then again, what intrigues most of us about this whole idea to “Write Drunk Edit Sober” is the realization that Hemingway, De Vries, or whomever we choose to believe said this maxim, was not necessarily trying to say to write drunk in the literal sense, but, rather in a broader metaphorical sense. As Charles Baudelaire wrote, “Get drunk, with wine, with poetry, or with virtue as you please.” Our “drink” may not be drink at all… it could as easily be good food, good company, Love, Romance, Sex, God, or even good old-fashioned sleep-deprivation. In other words, STOP OVERTHINKING THINGS… WRITE without editing yourself. The editor part of you will do his or her job later. Never write and edit at the same time. Even if you have your story all planned out with maps and flow charts and outlines when it’s time to write, then just blow, man. Jam it out. Let yourself get into the white-hot zone of creation. Just jam it out until the words refuse to come out any more. Then put that writing aside ’til at least tomorrow. For now, write like Dionysus/Bacchus on a wine bender, let the rhythm, the music, the colors, the smells, just wash over you like a warm forgiving Sea.

Next, we’ll look at the Apollonian half of the dichotomy. The Soberness. The Editor. Don’t worry, it’ll be fun too. As the saying goes: Writing is Art, Rewriting is Craft.

EDIT SOBER, WAY MORE FUN THAN IT SOUNDS

Alright now, people. This here’s where the rubber meets the road.

You’ve already hammered away at your latest masterpiece, AKA, the WIP, and you wrote it three-sheets to the wind, drunk, plastered, bombed, or at least an approximation thereof (I’ve heard T.M. works great, as does good old-fashioned Speaking in Tongues.) Remember it’s Write Drunk, Edit Sober, so you Wrote Drunk, or at least out-of-your-skull with or without chemical assistance.

So now you’re left with a brilliant-in-spots steaming pile of words.

What to do what to do what to do?

Another Jager Bomb? Later, dude.

Write Drunk, Edit Sober.

It’s coffee time, or Red Bull, or Monster, or Rock Star. But NEVER Diet Rock Star, that offends my sensibilities. I mean, NOBODY ever said, as a child, “When I grow up, I wanna be a DIET Rock Star. Buy me a low cal guitar, Daddy.”

Anyway, it’s time to Edit Sober.

So how do I do that?

Here’s Big Daddy Becker’s Five-Step Program (You were worried I was gonna say Twelve-Step Program, right, ladies? Relax there, Drunky McGee.)

1. READ YOUR COPY ALOUD:

Nothing helps iron out awkward prose like the good old ham-actor’s “Line reading.” You should write they way you speak, anyway, so this is a major step in that direction.

2. CHECK FOR MOVING BLOCKS:

These are paragraphs that make sense, but not necessarily WHERE they are now. Would this paragraph make more sense down the page a click or two, preferably with the other paragraphs that are on the same subject matter. The problem with Writing Drunk, is we have a tendency to “Shoot all over the tree.” So get those disparate threads of thought and put them where they belong. Sing that old Sesame Street song to yourself,”One of these things is not like the others/one of these things does not belong…”

3. CHECK FOR HOMOPHONES:

Homophones are words that sound alike but are spelled differently and mean different things. Watch for these:

Too, Two, To

It’s, its,

Your, You’re

Accept,Except

Affect, Effect

Casual, Causal

Our, Hour

Our, Are

Allusion, Illusion

Than, Then

Pin, Pen

The problem with sound-alike words? Spell-check is not gonna catch them because they are actual words which are spelled correctly, but are being used incorrectly.

Which brings me to my next point…

4. RUN A GRAMMAR CHECK:

This is always a good idea. However, there are times when perfect grammar makes for stiff writing. So read your corrected copy aloud again.

Then….

5. SLEEP ON IT:

Put your copy aside overnight. Edit it again in a day or two when you’re no longer in the white heat of creation. Have you ever re-read one of your stories weeks, months, or even years later only to be pleasantly surprised at how good it is? I have. I’ve even gone so far as to say, “Wow. I actually WROTE THIS? This is pretty good.”

Letting a piece cool-down overnight also helps you put on your editor hat. I love being an editor. I have often fantasized about being a great editor like Maxwell Perkins, Joe ‘Cap’ Shaw, or John Campbell. Using the element of Time to separate your own writing from your churning creative brain allows you to edit your copy as if you were not the writer. Be the sober Max Perkins, let that drunken Thomas Wolfe stay home in North Carolina nursing his hangover while you’re in your Manhattan offices sharpening your blue pencil.

Get to it, baby.

A Blog About Everything

When I first started this blog a few years ago, I intended it to be a blog about… whatever. Then I decided to use it as a vehicle to promote my fiction writing and the writing of others. Most recently, I re-purposed to blog to be a blog to promote my freelance writing career, but that re-imagining never really came to pass.

Now, I feel the need to be a blog about… whatever. Whatever I feel like writing about any particular night. The chances that anyone even reads chrisjaybecker.com are pretty slim, anyway, so I could write the deepest darkest confessionals without fear of discovery.

MORE TO COME.

5 Old-School Sales Techniques that still work

Originally published on Medium.Com, Jun 1, 2016

Times have changed. But then, that has always been true. It’s like the old adage (are there actually NEW adages?) about the weather: If you don’t like the weather… wait a minute. In other words, change is inevitable.

And yet, there is nothing new under the sun, as King Solomon allegedly said about 3000 years ago in the Song of Songs. Human nature does not change that much.

With that in mind, here are 5 sales Old School techniques that have worked magic since back in the day.

  1. MAKE THE CUSTOMER THINK THAT BUYING YOUR PRODUCT IS THEIR IDEA:

The number one rule of sales, according to legendary ad man Michael Masterson, is: People Don’t Like Being Sold. The concept is simple enough for the salesperson, let the prospect know what it is he or she needs to know about the product… features, functions, benefits…then back off. Let them come to you. Give them a choice… “So, do you like the red one or the blue one.” Or, better still, say something like, “It’s up to you… you’re the boss.”

2. PEOPLE BUY WITH THEIR EMOTIONS

All the Features, Functions, Benefits, and Rube Goldberg Devices in the world will not work if you are not playing to their emotions. A great list of emotions you can use are: Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed, and Sloth. Look familiar? If you remember the movie “Seven” or you’re deeply into Manga, you’ll recognize this list as the Seven Deadly Sins. Really, though, they are a list of powerful emotions which we’ve all given into throughout our lives.

They are also powerful sales tools:

Pride: If you buy this, you’ll be the talk of the neighborhood;

Envy: Are you going to let Mr. Jones have the latest technology while you’re still using last years model?

Gluttony: Yes, I DO want fries with that… in fact, Super-size me.

Lust: Sex sells, baby! Just ask Don Draper.

Anger: They kicked sand in your face, but not anymore. Show ’em what you’re made of, baby.

Greed: You’re getting the best deal ever. This product will help YOU to rake in the cash.

Sloth: This gadget is so convenient, it will drive your kids to school.

Emotions like these can be used in your ad copy, your sales pitch, your rebuttals, and they can also be uncovered as the buyers “Pains.” Once we uncover their pains, their frustrations, we can offer solutions to those pains.

3. ONCE SOLD, MAKE THEM FEEL THEY’VE MADE A WISE DECISION:

“Oh, man, Mr. Smith, you’re gonna be the envy of the neighborhood when they see THIS bad boy.”

This is a simple technique, but is hugely important. The customer needs to feel validated. This also minimizes the amount of cancellations you get on the back end, and you’ve made a potential regular customer. Making them feel good about their decision helps you and/or your company to sell the customer’s NEXT order. The sad reality is many salespeople don’t take the time to nail down this last detail, but it will pay off in the future.

4. DON’T JUST TALK… LISTEN:

As the saying goes, we each have two ears, but just one mouth. Listening to the prospect helps us to build rapport, helps them to blow off steam regarding previous sales attempts, products that didn’t help, and their pains and frustrations. Sometimes the prospect will yell at you, but he or she is not really yelling at you, but rather at dozens of bad salespeople who DIDN’T listen to them. So listen. Even if you don’t make a sale, at least you had a nice conversation as opposed to just spouting off another sales pitch, then giving canned rebuttals.

5. ASK FOR THE SALE:

This is the most obvious sales technique of all, but, in my experience as a sales professional for over twenty years, it’s one technique that most salespeople do not use. All the rapport building, needs-identifying, and product knowledge in the world won’t work if you don’t say, “So, will that be cash or credit?” If you’re waiting for the buyer to say, “Sounds great, I’ll take it,” you’re going to wait a long, long time.

Don’t feel like you’re being pushy. It’s your job. They know it’s your job. The key to a good close is this: lay your groundwork first. Remember Sales Rule #1? People Don’t Like Being Sold? If you lay your groundwork: listening as much as talking, identifying needs, selling to their emotions, gaining their confidence through product knowledge… then asking for the sale will come organically. It’s when you ask for the sale without creating a consultative sales environment, when you’re just giving them a sales pitch, a spiel, a few verbatim rebuttals, that they feel like they’re being sold, hustled, conned.

Don’t waste their time and yours. Be a consultative seller, an authority seller, an expert in your product or service.

Happy Hunting!