I get it. You want me to buy your stuff.
An open letter inviting brands to consider taking a deep breath and chilling out. Respectfully, of course.
A certain respected outdoor brand who will remain nameless (I’m not vindictive or anything) has sent me no fewer than three marketing emails at three different points over the last six months advertising their “BIGGEST SALE OF THE YEAR.”
The most recent one came yesterday; I laughed when I opened it, and so here I am writing about.
Call me old fashioned — and look, I love honoring our fallen troops with 30 perecent off boardshorts as much as the next person — but shouldn’t the “-est” in “biggest” be a hint that you get to use this word once per year? Does your secret folder with data (this is a very factual, real thing that I know you have, Brands) come with a note at the top in red marker that says, “Unload the adjectives on this guy — he’ll fall for it?”
While I have many gripes with the ways brands utilize email marketing (i.e. obscure holiday tie-ins, which is another post for another time), hands down my least favorite method is being treated like a wallet instead of a human.
So, Brands, hear me out: I’m just one man with one inbox and one disposable income, but I would love to see you show more creative common sense with your email marketing. In particular, I’d like to see you find ways to increase my purchase consideration and interest in your product that have nothing to do with price, discounts or money — and have everything to do with your self awareness of how good (or bad) your products are, the best ways to use them, and how I can get value from them.
(And no, this doesn’t just mean sending more emails.)
Treat me like a human, not a wallet
Here are a few I just thought of — literally off the top of my head, as I was writing them down. Play around with these, and then we can have a follow-up convo about this later:
- Surface a story of someone using your product in a unique way you didn’t intend, or for a cool purpose you didn’t think of when you created said product.
- Disrupt the way you talk about your warranty by going uber-transparent; share your warranty claim data — like what percentage of products get returned for issues vs. how many you sell — and then brag about which products rarely get returned.
- Tell me about other brands you like and respect without there being a requisite paid partnership. Heck, at least just start with acknowledging that your brand and your products don’t live in a fantasy world wherein I can only enjoy my upcoming trip to California if I buy my whole outfit from you and you only.
- Instead of just giving me product specs and fluffy marketing language around product launches, talk to me about actual pieces of critical feedback you received from your customers, and share how you specifically incorporated that feedback in the final product.
- Show me that your company is a valuable source of expertise and information in your industry and community (not just an expert at offering discounts) by promoting helpful tips, tricks, blog posts and video tutorials over gimmicky promotions.
I’m probably going to buy your stuff based on how I perceive the value of your brand in my life, not how many emails you send me — so maybe make sure your brand isn’t obnoxious?
Moral of the story, Brands, and a friendly tip from yours truly: If you have to tell me in the subject line and body of your email that your upcoming Biggest Sale Of The Decade is a “can’t-miss” event, it probably is a can-miss event, and I most definitely will be missing it, because I’m annoyed at you. Work on making your emails “can’t-miss” because the content and promises in them are good, not because you’re shouting it in all caps.
Hi, I’m Seth. This was cathartic and fun to write. If you liked this, share it! I will love you forever. If you didn’t, no hard feelings. As you were.