Bonnie Siegler | Dear Bonnie

Dear Bonnie: Tips for Toyland

Editor's Note: Dear Bonnie is our truth-telling advice column from Bonnie Siegler. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do, and invite our readers to submit their questions directly to: [email protected]

Dear Bonnie,
Maybe you could have a look at our new toy company. Hoping you might be able to provide feedback.
Thank you for your time!!
Jorg Schuster

Dear Jorg,

I am happy to look at your new toy company, but I am not sure what kind of feedback you would like.  Are you asking what I think of the idea of the company? Of the web experience? Of the graphic design? Of the product itself?

So I apologize, but before I look at your company, I'm first going to have to use this as an opportunity to talk about the pitfalls of casual letter writing. (And not typical advice column letters, just regular old letters...ur...emails.)

When writing to a complete stranger, especially when you're asking them for something, it's imperative that you take the time to make yourself as clear as possible. You only have one chance to get someone to pay attention and that chance lasts mere seconds. It's crazy easy to dash something off and hit send, but a half-baked email almost always raises more questions than it asks. It takes just a bit of extra time to write a good, straightforward letter, and with all the emails we all get every day it’s even more crucial to represent your case well.

In your next email seeking feedback, start by telling the recipient why you're writing to THEM (and yes, flattery will get you everywhere). Then tell them about your company, how old it is, who else is involved (you wrote "our company”), what your goals are, and all that good stuff. Finally, ask the question: what would you like from them? Be specific. That's the best way to ensure that you'll actually get what you're looking for.

And now, all that being said, here is some feedback, hopefully along the lines of what you are looking for:
The design aesthetic is lovely and works very well with the product, which I think is charming. However, I have no idea what size the cars are since there's nothing about their dimensions or anything in the images that provides a sense of scale. Finally, the price is a bit steep, so I would need a little more information about the product, the company's philosophy, and more about how and why you do what you do in order to justify spending so much on a toy.

Posted in: Business, Dear Bonnie

Comments [2]

And when one actually gets to Rootsroller one finds they want thirty and forty bucks for very, very, very little except "attitude" and some kind of artsy-fartsy shape to their simpleminded items.

I imagine the kind of email you describe is going to be a lot longer. I always work to be respectful of other peoples' time in my emails and be as clear as possible. I enumerate questions so that people can easily respond, and I try to boil down choices to a binary "this" or "that" response. Even so, I constantly receive responses that only address one part of the email or answer "yes" when there is a range of options. I suppose the best that the sender can do is balance specificity with brevity; beyond that you just have to hope that the recipient is as respectful of your time as you are of theirs.

Jobs | July 19