By: Stella Orange
I recently subscribed to the mailing list of someone who has spent several decades creating a body of work.
Within reading two sentences of the first email, I knew in my bones: Someone else wrote this.
Okay, fine, I thought, No one at this level writes their own marketing.
But then the email goes on for six more paragraphs.
They say everything you are supposed to say in a first email to a new subscriber but, in reality, say absolutely nothing. You know how in the Charlie Brown cartoon, whenever the adults talk, and it’s bwa bwa bwa bwa bwa bwa? Yeah, like that.
And then the whole thing wraps up with a hint about “content” that would hit my inbox in a few days, and a P.S. with a fun tidbit to keep the mood light and buzzy…
This person wouldn’t know light and buzzy if it bit ‘em in the ankles!
Oof. Now that’s a liability.
It’s a liability because it’s a kind of disconnect. A kind of vacancy.
And that vacancy can be contagious.
It goes something like this: A close reader senses a disconnect. Huh, the close reader might think, that’s not how their voice usually sounds. This pulls focus away from the message of the work, and away from the new possibilities that the work surfaces.
For less-than-close readers, though, the impact of this lack of consistency between how this person speaks and shows up in the world and how they sound and what they’re saying on email is more vacancy. Nothing has been said that is unexpected or expanding what’s possible. It’s more blah blah blah. More noise.
Which, when your work is about expanding what’s possible, is an issue.
I’ve a lot to say about this, but another day.
Today, I simply leave a question:
What if, when we listened to marketing people, we then sat with their advice as we asked ourselves, “Okay, given all that, how do we do it in a way that’s consistent with who we are and how we roll?”
In the story above, I like to imagine this person animated by service and transformation, who works through relationships and connections. If this were true, I imagine a better starting place to begin the conversation with a new subscriber to sound more like: Glad you’re here. I look forward to the new possibilities that are sure to arise as we go. – Jody
You know, more like what you might read from them if they sent you flowers and a card celebrating an exciting new collaboration together.
Stella is cofounder and copywriter at Las Peregrinas, a creative and consulting agency. As our resident word nerd, she writes copy and points out the stories everyone is living and telling through their work. She is also fun at parties.
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