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DeWese--All the Write Stuff. . .

January 2000
It's been a while since I've written about Marvelle Stump, America's worst, laziest and all-around most incompetent print salesperson. Marvelle sold his last real job back in 1987, just before his mama passed away. Mama Stump had been the print buyer at First Mississippi Bancorp and always took care of her baby.

Marvelle is back home in Mississippi from his sojourn to California, where he failed to sell a single job for his employer, Sensitive & Safe Environmental Letterpress Inc. (California's only retro printing company).

Yep. He's back in Mississippi. For the first three months, he sold printing for Lenny Thrilkill, the owner of Bo Didley Litho Inc., in Tupelo, MS. Lenny, a teenager during the '50s, insisted on naming his company after his favorite recording artist of then and now.

Marvelle didn't last long with Lenny. Lenny fired him when Marvelle insulted Lenny's only daughter Juleeen, the company CSR and a 36-year-old spinster. (Yes, there are three "E"s in Juleeen. It seems that Marvelle compared Juleeen's appearance to some sort of a swamp creature, when Lenny had suggested that Marvelle take her out for a barbecue and a movie.)

Marvelle may not be able to sell a lick of printing, but he can always talk himself into another job. As usual, he has landed on his feet. He's back at his first-ever employer, Leon Loudermilk's Printing & Lithography, on Route 421 in Hot Coffee, MS.

Marvelle has inspired me in many ways. Most of all, he builds my self-esteem. A few minutes around Marvelle, and most people feel like superhumans.

One time, Marvelle sent me samples of some letters he'd sent to prospects and customers. He wanted my "kriteek." Here's what I wrote back.

Dear Marvelle:
Thanks so much for sending me samples of the letters you've been sending your customers and prospects.

You asked me to critique your letters, and I hardly know where to begin. I will begin by congratulating you for being resourceful enough to use sales letters as another means of communication with print buyers. Too many salespeople limit themselves by not using the written word as a way to build sales.

As to your writing style, Marvelle, it is unique. Yes, that's the word: unique. For example, I don't remember ever reading a letter that contained so many incomplete sentences. Sentences are complete thoughts containing, at least, a subject and a predicate. In several of your sentences, I was unable to detect either.


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