The Magical Power of “Grunt Work”

I had an interesting recent call with one of my Private Client Group members who asked for my input on how he should proceed with a specific marketing campaign. One to a very small, but very influential audience.

I think my answer may have surprised him a bit.

I told him he needed to write a very specific type of letter (and not hire somebody else to write it).

He needed to personalize it to each recipient (not some generic, one-size-fits-all letter) and hand-sign it.

And he needed to literally stuff the envelope, put the stamp on it and put it in the mail.

I then told him he needed to make sure he followed up. Personally. With each person. Himself.

I instructed him to promise me his virtual assistant would not do this for him and that he would literally take his time (valued at a least $150/hour) to do what many would consider “grunt work.”

I think he thought I was nuts. But as I explained to him for this particular marketing effort, I wanted him to make this campaign as “hand-crafted” as possible and I wanted him to personally own it.

Maybe you think I am nuts for suggesting this, especially in light of the fact there are $2.00/hour virtual assistants available to do pretty much everything for you, but hear me out.

I am a firm believer in getting one’s hands dirty once and awhile and doing the so-called grunt work in your business. I think it’s important to stay grounded and not remove yourself so much you forget what and who your business is really about.


Just this week, I sent out a small batch of about 25 personal letters. I printed them. I signed them and I put them in the envelopes, stamped them and put them in the mail box. I cannot explain it, but there is something energizing about doing this type of work – not all the time – but once in a while I find the “hand work” of doing small-batch mailings to be refreshing.

Many times I personally return phone calls to people who leave messages on our company’s voicemail system. I always smile when they find out it’s me, but I always remind them if it wasn’t for our customers and clients, we would not be in business, so I am happy to get on the phone when I can.

I realize in this era of “4 hour workweek” type thinking, the notion of outsourcing just about everything is appealing, In today’s business environment there is much talk about authenticity and transparency, yet much of what you see is manufactured and a facade. Ghostwriters write other people’s books. Virtual assistants craft Facebook posts in the name of their boss.

You see this everywhere and while I am not saying there may be good reasons to hire others to do things for you, I also believe it’s important as business owners and marketers to stay grounded and get your hands dirty every so often. At a minimum, it will make you appreciate your team even more.

Consider setting aside time each month where you:

  • Return customer phone calls yourself.
  • Send personal, handwritten (not typed) thank you cards or notes.
  • Get out from the office or behind the computer and meet and greet customers and prospects.
  • Personally visit a good customer or business partner and express your appreciation of the relationship.

I love what the late Gary Halbert has to say about getting down and dirty in his April 1998 newsletter – specifically about creating direct mail. I will end this article by quoting Gary directly and boldfacing in red the critical fourth paragraph commentary. Even Gary felt there was something gained by doing the hand-work of sending out a direct mail letter.


From the Gary Halbert Letter...

What I’m about to give you is the most important piece of advice you’ll ever get concerning this subject. Do this: After you’ve “captured” what appears to be your first viable idea (“Hey, Marge, let’s sell a report on the secrets of how to profit in L.A. real estate to everyone in that area who just got their real estate license!”), you sashay down to your local stationery store and buy 1,000 #10 white envelopes. You then scurry over to your local quickie printer and you have him print your address in black ink in the upper left hand corner of those envelopes. Then you get the names and addresses of 1,000 of the people who might be interested in your offer and you sit down and . . .


Not your spouse, your kids, your secretary – you do it. And then, you go to your local post office and get 1,000 first-class postage stamps and you lick’em and you stick’em. Next, you sit down and, in one sitting, you write the best sales 1etter you can to those people. You describe what you have to offer and you ask them to buy it and send you money. And then, if you don’t type yourself, you take that letter to a typist and have it typed and then go get it printed. And then, you sign all 1,000 letters and you fold them and you stuff them into the envelopes. Then you seal the envelopes and you take those letters to the post office and mail them.

What? Aren’t we going to wait until you know how to write a good sa1es letter? Until you get things fine-tuned a little? NO! NO! NO! NO! This is how you learn to write! You don’t wait for anything! It is movement that produces expertise. Not meditation.

Come closer. listen, I swear this is true: There is something that happens on a cellular level, something that indelibly imprints itself on your being, some kind of neural knowledge that can only be achieved by physically doing a mailing all by yourself.

Sound crazy? Too unsophisticated for a smart cookie like you? Consider this: I am probably responsible for more successful direct mail than anyone else in history. Just one of my letters is currently being mailed at the rate of 100,000 per day. My direct mail letters probably generate more money in any given month than most other “experts” are able to generate in a lifetime. I know more about how to make computer generated mail work, more about how to massage a database, more about how to extract meaningful data from a mathematical regression analysis, more about the results of different A/B split run tests, etc., etc., etc. than anybody you’ll ever meet in your entire lifetime and … and…and…


It’s kind of ironic, isn’t it? There sit the Herschells of this world, staring dumbly into a CRT screen mystically believing that a machine will somehow help them write better and there sits Gary at his kitchen table stuffing letters into envelopes just like a rank beginner and yet… and yet… and yet…


What are your thoughts about this?  I would love to hear from you, so leave a comment below.

About the Author Mike Capuzzi

I'm a speaker, author and high impact marketing strategist for business owners and sharp, aggressive entrepreneurs looking to get to the next level in their business. I'm also the the inventor of the world-famous CopyDoodles. CopyDoodles are the world's largest library of handwritten fonts, hand-drawn doodles, comics and more designed to grab attention and boost your marketing results!

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