Put Readers at Ease
So lets talk a little bit about putting your readers at ease by sharing stories and life experiences. So what tends to happen with sending emails in a newsletter format is that we're like, okay, I have something to sell and I'm gonna go sell it. And you'll be like, "Coming up soon: workshop!" Or, "Coming up soon: this!" But there's no story in there, there's nothing interesting to read. It's just like a, "Hey, I have something to sell." And that doesn't feel very good for the recipient. And usually those kinds of things just land right in the spam box or they're deleting them because if they don't want to immediately hop onto that offer, which in most cases people aren't going to do that, you want to give them something enticing, exciting to read so that they're like, "Ugh, I just look forward to your emails." And then when you actually do have something to sell, or you want to send a sales email about something that's already existing, then they're like, "Ugh, I love her emails" or hi...
s emails. And they're gonna be more apt to pay attention. They're also gonna be more apt to buy because you're consistently giving them awesome content and they're like, "I just love you and I want to support you." And that's how it goes down. That's emotional engagement. So realize that when I say stories I don't mean, and I think we've all seen this, where people will have big sweeping stories, where it might be like, "I was in poverty and then I went from that and now I'm a billionaire." I think we've seen those stories a lot. That is probably not all of our realities. I mean I know that's not my reality. And so it's hard to connect to those kind of big, sweeping stories. So when it comes to consistently engaging your community and your audience, think about small things that can inspire them, and delight them or educate them. Don't think about, or a lesson that you've learned. So don't think about, "Okay, what was like a really dark "moment in my life that I overcame?" It's okay if you want to share those things, but ultimately it's not going to connect as much as like a very small story. And we're going to talk about some ideas right now. And then we're gonna talk together about some ideas. So ideas for things you can talk about in your emails when you're communicating to your audience. So first thing is myth-busters. What's something in your industry that pisses you off or you don't agree with? I'm seeing heads shaking, right? So I'm already feeling like ideas are popping. This is always a good one. I call it writing from the heat because it instantly gets you all heated. You're like, "Oh, that thing really gets me." So this is a fun one that you can play with. Obsession. What is something that you totally can't live without? So this is a really fun one because oftentimes we do become obsessed with things. We get something new and we're like, "Ooh, I gotta have that," or, "I just bought this and I can't live without it." And it's a really fun thing to share. Impending doom. What's something you have to do that you don't want to? I love this one and I've used this several times in my own business as well because everyone can relate to this. We all have something every day that we have to do that we don't want to do. And so even if your thing is different than the person reading it's thing, it's still gonna relate because they're gonna be like, "Oh, I don't want to do that either," and it's inspiring as to how you decided to do that thing. And they're like, "Ah, maybe I'll try that." Terror. What's something you're scared of and how do you intend to move past this fear? So I wrote about this, it was a really popular thing that I wrote to my audience years ago about how I learned to ride a bike when I was 33. And it was so terrifying for me mostly because all my neighbors were like five and six and they're riding their bikes around and I'm like falling off and they're like, "You can do it!" And it just felt terrible. But at the end of the day I got a lesson out of it. Not only trying something new, but also kind of getting over that fear of these five year olds that are circling around me and hopping on their bikes and I'm like, "Stop it!" And so that's a really fun one, people love to hear those stories. So happiness, flipping to the positive side. What never fails to make you happy? Gosh, in these times it's like everyone's looking for an insta-dose of happiness. That's why self-help books are so popular. So if you have something that you can share, this is something that I do just to turn things around for me every day. Like maybe you wake up and you write down five things you're grateful for. That's a really fun practice to share with people no matter industry or what business you're in. Everyone can benefit from gratitude. Crisis mode. So what is a conflict that you experienced this week? This is another really fun one because we all have conflicts every week that happen to us and we feel like we're in internal or external crisis. So if it's something that you're comfortable with sharing with your audience you can totally do that. A secret. So what's something about your business that no one knows? Or it could be about you. Like sometimes we can cross our personal and our professional lives, depending on what your business is. And sometimes you like to keep it quite separate. But for this it can be a really fun one. It's like something that no one knows. I secretly, I used to have this one where I'm like, I secretly write erotic fiction novels with my friends and that helps me become a better writer. And now it's not a secret because I talk about it all the time but it was a fun one to talk about and how we just do this as a silly exercise to break up the day. And then it just makes your writing more fun and your business more fun. So secrets are always good. And then what's a big goal that you're going for right now? Like shooting for the stars. This is always fun. People love to hear what your professional and/or personal goals are because we all have our own professional or personal goals and so it's really powerful for them to say, "You know what, you are going for it. "And I'm gonna go for it too." And if you want to take it to the next level, you can add a challenge with it. You can say, "Hey, I'm gonna try to achieve this. "If you have something you want to achieve, "lets do it together. "Lets take five small steps over the next five days to do it "and I want you to hit me back and tell me how it went." So, again, you're emotionally engaging. You're looping that back. Alright so four. Another one. No means no. When did you have to say no? I love this one. Particularly because we often, most of us, will say yes too much. We say yes to everything. And so it's really powerful when you have to say no to something. That's also inspiring for people because they often have those moments in their lives as well. And then, on the flip side, yes oh yes. Shonda Rhimes wrote a whole book about this, about the year of yes. So saying yes to something. Did you say yes to something that was out of character for you? That's even better. Something that you would never do, maybe like rock climbing, lets say. Lets say, I would never rock climb because I'm terrified of heights. So if I said yes to that, I would definitely share that because I would be horrified, number one, but it's something that's powerful to say. I have this intense fear of heights but, you know what, I said yes to rock climbing and here's what happened. Maybe I fell and broke my nose or maybe I made it through and it was great. And then morning routines. I love this one too. This is probably a question I get most often from my community when they tell me what they want me to write about. A morning routine. So they want to know, what do you do when you get up, how do you get everything done? And it's really just about productivity that's really what they're asking. How are you getting everything done in your day? So morning routines are really fun to share because everyone can get a little nugget from that. And then, of course, how'd you get there. Behind the scenes, if you're ever completely out of ideas, which I hope after this you never will be, but if you ever are just think about behind the scenes. Do a quick share of here's what my desk looks like. It is not perfect. And particularly in a Pinterest society or a very styled photo society where everyone's kind of stylizing and editing their entire life online, when we give people peeks of what things really look like, it's got that E! True Hollywood Story feel to it where it's like, "Ooh. This is scandalous." And even if it's a messy desk, it still feels scandalous in this climate. It still feels it in this world because we're constantly editing everything down. Alright so lets have a little bit of fun. Can I grab the white board out here? And we're gonna have a little bit of fun. I just want to riff with you guys on some story ideas based on what we just went through. And just kind of see if we can get some flowing in the group and then hopefully give you some more inspiration to walk away with. Thank you. Alright so, of the examples that I just shared, does anyone want to share an idea that was sparked for them? Don't be shy.
For the yes oh yes one. It made me think of skydiving.
I went skydiving a couple of years ago and I'm also really afraid of heights so it kind of got my wheels turning about why I said yes to that and what that experience was like and lessons I could glean from that and share with people.
I love that. So not only is it a yes oh yes, you could also break that into multiple pieces of content. So I like to think of that as serialized. So think of when you watch Game of Thrones, or any kind of show that has something where it's got a cliffhanger on the end of the episode and then the next episode is like, "I can't wait til next week." So you could also roll this out where it's like "I said yes" is part one and then part two is behind the scenes. And then part three can be like the culmination of that experience. So you can do it however you want, but just realize sometimes when we have big experiences like that, that you know is going to be a lot of fodder, then you can just use it and amp it up. Plus doing serialized content that way is so fun because people are like, "I want to know what happens next!" Cliffhanger! And this is a real cliffhanger because you're going to be jumping. So I love that. So you can do it however you want, but that's an awesome example, thank you for sharing. Alright so lets think about this, does anybody just want to tell me what they do? Like just tell me what you do for a living and then I'll help you.
I'm a commercial photographer and I find that a lot of photographers who are like retail photographers use email marketing like this. But I haven't seen it done in a more commercial sense for like a food or product photographer. What would you say you should do for that?
So you're selling to other photographers? Or you're selling directly to clients or to other photographers? Just so I'm clear. Okay so this would be to a business client, right? Yeah, so even for them, and this is for anybody that does that, like sells business to business. You still want to emotionally engage them through stories in this way because it's still a human on the other end. Though I know it feels different because it feels like they're in their corporate space, so lets say you're working with a global food brand. It's like oh no because they're in their desk and for them to get this email from me where I'm talking about skydiving is not going to relate. But it's still a human decision maker and that's why this is still important to do. So I would still make a list and put it in some kind of newsletter program of all of your clients. You don't have to email them weekly, I know they're busy and that's fine. But even doing something once a month that could both be a bit of a story and then maybe a couple examples of your beautiful photography so that you're top of mind for them. At the end of the day there are lots of commercial photographers. But no one's doing this. So if you're popping in their inbox with a fun story or a meaningful story, an inspiring thing, even if it's just a couple of paragraphs, and then here's some work that I did this month, well then who's top of mind for them? So that's why we do these things. I guarantee, because I know a lot of commercial photographers, they don't do that. They're usually just like calling or randomly emailing and saying, "Hey, I'm here. Can you hire me?" Or it happens via referral. Things like that are really common, I get that. But I would do this because you always want to be top of mind with your clients. And then they can say, and I know this happens, they'll reach out to you and say, "I loved that email and you know what, "we have this project and why don't you come in "or why don't you send me a proposal for this?" So definitely think through those examples. It may not be appropriate to say, "This really bugs me about my industry. "Other photographers suck! And they all do this!" That probably isn't going to be appropriate for this audience. But you might say, "This month I was really drawn to the color purple "and that's because I was a huge fan of Prince "and when he was here I listened to this "and I'm an old record player gal." And it can be that simple where you're just giving some really fun things and then your showcase of photos that you're really proud of that you did that month are all in a purple theme. So you can think about it like that. It's like sprinkling fun little. Stories don't always have to be long-winded things. Sometimes they're just a few sentences. And that can absolutely work for your industry. Does that help?
I'm a social media manager and I work for a company that has two brands and so I'm trying to think about how I could do something like this because I also do some of their digital marketing and we've talked about doing email campaigns. But how can I do something like this from a brand's perspective? We're a business to business and we're a global brand but we're quite small and there's a lot of heritage, I would say, to the brand.
Awesome. So an easy way to do this is, and I have a lot of clients that have had this, the same vibe. What we did was we would appoint one person as spokesperson. Now that doesn't mean that they have to speak for like everyone in the company, it just means that when you are communicating in the sense through an intimate venue like email, it's coming from a person as opposed to the brand. So an example is, I used to work for a digital marketing company who sold all B-to-B and I think they just worked mostly with political campaigns and automotive clients. And for them we just appointed the COO as our spokesperson and it was simply because he loved writing stories like this so we had to find the person that was good at this. And then he would write up something that was either a lesson from the industry, he used a lot of soccer terminology because he loves soccer, so he would just kind of say, "This happened in the game," and then, "This is how it applies to the industry," and it was really fun. So I would definitely see if there's one person in your company, maybe it's you, because a lot of times it is the social media manager that does it, but if not that's okay, who would be willing to be appointed the spokesperson role. And at that point, you can sit down and brainstorm with them or if it's just you then you brainstorm by yourself and figure out what would make the most sense as far as communicating these types of content and stories to our clients. You can also look at your social media content as inspiration. What's clicking? So when you share, what's getting the most likes, the most comments, specifically the most comments because anything that's engaging conversation is really strong, as I'm sure you know. So maybe look there first and see if there are some themes you can thread off of that. Some topics that you can thread off of those. And then, as far as getting people from your social channels onto an email list, you're probably already doing that, but if you want to amp it a little further, you can take some of these content ideas and think about if there's something you can give away to your audience that would be of value to them that they have to opt in to get. So they have to hand over their name and email and then they will get this free thing. So the client I was just speaking of, one thing that they recognized is that there was this huge disconnect as far as people's understanding of digital marketing. Even within this very B-to-B industry. They were marketers but they didn't even understand the digital space because it's moving so fast. Technology moves so fast. So he broke it down into really simple terms using soccer references because that was what he was interested in. And he created just a little ebook, nothing fancy, nothing overly designed. It was just done in like Word and then I think saved as a PDF, easy, with the logo on it. And that's it and it worked really, really well because the information was so valuable. And that then welcomed people into the world and then they would keep in touch with them monthly or I think every two weeks was their schedule. With more ideas stemming off of this. And looping it back to things that would help. Again, B-to-B if they're reading it, they're in their work environment, they definitely want to make sure it's relevant for work. So I would say whatever the takeaway is, make sure it's relevant to their job. But at the end of the day you can use tons of stories to do that, as long as the end lesson has some value in that space. Does that help?
Awesome. Alright, we'll do one more and then we can continue on.
I am a online business system strategist. I help business owners basically set up their systems for their business, I help automate them, and then I manage them. But specifically I specialize in client onboarding processes.
So I help them with setting up once the client reaches out and you capture that lead, then you go to sending them a proposal
Or getting on a call with them. But I also help in automating that process too.
So it's really quick and like, a little more hands off but still you get that personal touch too.
So yeah, that's kinda what I do.
Okay, perfect. Yeah, you will have a lot of fun with this because when it comes to business systems, and I have someone like you in my business who is like a godsend, it brings up a lot of stress for business owners because we're like, "Oh god, systems." Particularly if you're a creative, you're like, "Ooh, systems." And you know you need them but you don't even know where to start and you just need somebody like you to be like, "Take it, take it." We turn into little babies. And we just don't know how to be and how to even exist in this systematic world. So I think you can have a ton of fun with this because you can share things and moments in your own life that will allow your clients to know you're on the same page as them. So you probably already know how they feel anyway because they're expressing it on the introductory call. But even if you don't, you can just have more conversations with them to discover that. And you're going to see a lot of themes in there like, "I'm scared,", "I'm growing but I know I need to grow more, "but I don't know how," and like, "What if the system breaks and I can't fix it," and "I don't understand how this fits with this," and "What is that and why do I have to use that?" And so there's all this uncertainty. So I think it would be really cool if you could take some of the examples that we went through today and say where in your life do you feel uncertain? Like where do you feel the way your clients feel about something different? And that way you can connect with them. So when they talk to you they're like, "Ooh, I loved that email that you sent "because, you know what, that's how I feel about systems." And then you're like, "I know." "That's how I feel about skydiving." Or whatever it is. And so that way there is an emotional connection there. It's a really fun way to do that because you don't feel uncertain about systems, you love them, you're great at them. But no one can connect to that. No one can connect to the fact that you do. But just showing them that you are in their shoes with something else is very, very powerful. And often the time, it's often the thing that will hit them off the block, or whatever you want to say, to actually make the buying decision. So when people are like, "I'm not sure, I'm not sure," think do you want to work with someone who's gonna understand where their emotional state is? They want somebody that's like, "Okay, you're nervous like me, just not about this thing." So you're gonna know where they're coming from, you'll be more sympathetic, empathetic to their struggle, and you'll be a breeze to work with. So they're looking for that kind of thing and you can accomplish that through these emails and then bring more people to your business. Not only that, but then you're almost pre-closing them. Because when you get on the call with them, they're already like, "Ugh, you get me." And then you're just extending that in the conversation that you have with them because then the conversation will be like, "I feel this way," and you're like, "I get it, I do too, just about something different. I've got you, I'll take care of you." And so then it has this nice, powerful, emotional connection.