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Lost Art of Letter Writing –DeWese

October 2011
It’s been a while since I’ve written about Marvelle Stump, America’s worst, laziest, and all-around most incompetent printing 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 in Tupelo, Mississippi. 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 at Bo Didley. 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 some barbecue and a movie.

Back to the Beginning

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, Mississippi.

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 super-humans.

One time Marvelle sent me samples of some letters that 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 start 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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