Read, write and shoot is my communication passion—the passion for gathering information and distributing information, in words, pictures, word-pictures. I love to make complex things simple, make the crooked straight, support people in understanding what they're interested in. That's one of those things I'd do even if I didn't get paid. How do I know? I do it all the time!
I stood in the haircare aisle of a store when a woman a few feet away seemed confused over which hairspray to buy. I shared enthusiastically about a recent product discovery.
I purchased an anniversary dinner at a business that assembled homemade gourmet entrees, froze them, and sold them as heat-and-eat. Business was slow even the second time I shopped there. I suggested a few proven marketing techniques. Gratis. Did not ask a fee. Didn't matter. They didn't do any of them and folded within a few months.
I often ask myself, "Would people implement a strategy if I charged thousands of dollars for it? Would they see their need clearly enough to pay thousands of dollars?
I have talked – and written – all my life. I cannot think of a time when I didn't like to put ideas into words and thoughts onto paper. Now my considerations are given wings of ether and fly by email or hover on a website. My mother, literary herself, used to quip:
I have a pencil. I'm a writer.
I have word processing software, and I'm not afraid to use it!
I'm infrequently eloquent, but I'm always clear. OK, sometimes I am eloquent. And occasionally I muddle a sentence.
Besides writing and the business of marketing what I write (and writing to market what I've written), I also love nature—plants and animals. Looking at beautiful things or cute or striking animals calms me and raises my happiness level. That's another topic to pour into a fountain of words.
I write non-fiction: how-to books—because I love explaining complex ideas in simple language. It bugs me that cities and corporations and emperors and people full of themselves pontificate and make simple things sound complex. Plain English please, without your internal secret language—jargon—which I perceive as disrespectful of the audience to whom these bamboozling words are directed.
The first book I wrote was a training manual for Ventura Publisher, an early desktop publishing software that was sophisticated and complex. The woman who hired me to write it appreciated the work, which she sold to the state of Illinois, but she wanted it divided into two parts, and paid me $750 per volume. She charged the state twice that. That was around 1988.
By 2001, I had been using the Internet in business seven years. My first "email marketing" (to a list) campaign had been launched on Christmas Eve of 1998. I had phenomenal response rates, hovering around 21 percent gross, that is, without subtracting for bounces, non deliverables, out-of-offices and the rest. Had I counted the responses against the received emails, the response percentage would have been much higher.
I was also training a team of entrepreneurs how to present their products and services long-distance, that is, by telephone and email. Most followed the company line of talking about stability, longevity, partners, etc., to the exclusion or at best delay of speaking to what the prospect was looking for: rapid weight loss, fresher air, cleaner water, greater vitality…
Email Marketer's Cookbook
When I asked distributors to tell me why a client should enroll with them, i.e., their unique selling proposition (USP), they either said the wrong thing (corporate description drivel) or had nothing at all to say. When I asked who their target customer was, they said "everybody." When I asked what was special about them as a team leader, they usually drew a deficit card and went to jail paying a $200 fine as they passed Go.
So I wrote a workbook. It taught marketing principles, then inquired to not only engage the readers but also to get them to answer questions about themselves and their products or services and company. All of this they wrote into the blank lines in the workbook. My intent was to trick them into spilling the beans of the correct things to say in a marketing situation, but I had to include the crap they were dying to tell everyone even though it usually cost them the sale. They needed to pour it all out and get it off their chests.
As the workbook led them to the point of crafting their emails, it listed page a paragraph numbers for them to copy from, thus selectively pulling information together in the best order for convincing another to join it.
Your patience prevents my listing all of the critical elements that support a successful email campaign with high conversion rates. My first two rules are, and these are inviolable…
- Get attention. Be daring or dramatic or sympathetic or unexpected or something – almost anything – that will make a person stop and read your subject line, then read your first sentence. That sentence has only one purpose: to make them read the next. And so on.
- Do not offend. It is stunning how many off- and on-line business insult – or neglect – their prospects from the outset. Do not patronize, ignore or any of a hundred other actions that could offend. I stopped at a fruit stand today that said Ripe NOW, Organic fruit. I parked and walked into what appeared to be a compound with several building surrounding a grassy yard dotted with fruit trees of many varieties. There was no sign which building to go to. I walked amongst the trees. No fruit was ripe. A young woman appeared and when questioned, said Come back in a week. There was no way those knobs of chlorophyll would be fruit in a week. She said "Let me go get the king for you." I told her if the fruit wasn't ripe, she shouldn't bother. As small a thing as inaccurate, and then inadequate, signage steals people's time and their hope for a succulent pear or sweet-tart plum. Categorically making your life more important than your customers' is offensive. Don't do that.