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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

Want Better E-mail Marketing Results? Keep it Simple

Last week, Fire Enterprises (FEI) marketing maven Marka told savvy salesperson Zoot and FEI tribe leader Org how building a competitive positioning grid can help FEI’s staff stay on message and counter buying objections. This week, Marka discusses how plain, text-only e-mails can achieve better results for FEI than traditional promotional e-mails. Remember, fire=print.

The 74th Annual Firebuyers Conference was just two weeks away. To maximize his lead-generation opportunities at this conference, Zoot purchased a pre-show attendees list and sent everyone a broadcast e-mail, asking to meet during the show.

The e-mail was beautifully designed, impeccably written, and featured a clear, compelling call-to-action. Understandably, Zoot was disappointed when the e-mail got just one measly response: Wally from Wally’s Watchmakers replied with a polite “not interested.”

The next day, Zoot entered Marka’s office and told her what had happened.

“I have an idea,” Marka said. “Why don’t you send a simple follow-up—I mean really simple.” She scribbled this on a piece of paper:

I sent you an e-mail last week.
Would you like to schedule a no-obligation sales growth appointment next Monday or Tuesday at the Firebuyers’ Conference? Please contact me at this e-mail address or the number below. See you there!


“Ditch the main image, the header, the sidebar, and any other frou-frou,” Marka said. “This e-mail should look exactly like a personal e-mail coming from you.”

“That’s it?” Zoot asked skeptically.

“Give it a shot,” Marka said.

A few days later, Zoot sent the follow-up e-mail as Marka described. Within three hours, more than 25 attendees had responded! A few were just polite “no thank you's, but Zoot did manage to set 11 appointments with prospects.

The next day Zoot returned to Marka’s office. “Your idea was genius,” he told Marka. “I just don’t understand why it worked.”

“Everybody gets too many promotional e-mails,” Marka answered. “We’ve simply become numb to the typical flashy, graphic-heavy e-mails that land in our inboxes each day by the dozens. Today an e-mail that’s simple, unassuming, and authentic actually stands out.”

“People want to work with a company that communicates with them as equals—not a big corporate behemoth yelling into a megaphone,” Marka continued. “This e-mail communicates an intimacy and authenticity that so many of today’s marketing communications lack.”

“That may be true, but don’t forget that the text-only e-mail was a follow up,” Zoot countered. “Isn’t it possible that our second e-mail succeeded in part because the first e-mail primed the pump?”

“That’s a good point, Zoot,” Marka said. “We’ll need to run an A/B test to be sure. One group will receive a standard promotional e-mail, while the other will receive an e-mail with the same message, but in the basic text-only format. Then we can prove which one performs better.”

“Marka, you’re a genius,” Zoot said.

“Don’t forget that when my birthday rolls around next month,” Marka said with a wink.

Next week: Marka discusses how all marketing communications must answer the question “what’s in it for the customer?”

Today’s FIRE! Point

A basic, text-only broadcast e-mail will stand out from the dozens of graphic- and text-heavy e-mail promotions your customers receive every day.

FIRE! In Action: Grow Sales Uses Text-only E-mail to Secure Leads

Shameless plug: My sales and marketing company, Grow Sales, recently sent two e-mails to the attendee list for an industry conference. The first, “standard” promotional e-mail was greatly outperformed by a second basic, text-only that contained three sentences.

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