7 ways to write non-sales emails that get results NOW

HTWB lightbulbDo you sometimes get frustrated because people don’t read your ordinary, day-to-day work emails properly, or don’t even open them until it’s too late? Only act on the first topic in the mail and ignore the following three? Send you the wrong information, not what you need?

Recipients of this type of email know you, and know perfectly well that you’re not trying to sell them the latest type of flexible garden hose or rejuvenating makeup.

Put simply, they’re just suffering from “information overload,” wading through “info-sludge,” and can’t cope with day-to-day business/community emails that ask them to remember a meeting time and tie their shoelaces at the same time.

And now that most of us read and write emails via our dinky smartphones, tablets and other less-than-verbose media, the problems have been compounded: shorter text displays, even shorter attention spans.

So how do you get their attention – and action?

Some would say to phone them and ask them to check their emails – again, if necessary – but this can have limited effects, especially if you only get through to their voicemail systems which they may well overlook or skip over too.

You could head your email with lots of exclamation marks. You could write the subject line all in caps, although that’s considered shouting, ergo rude. With anything but the blandest of statements in your subject line you could well be relegated to the spam folder whether it’s written in caps or ancient Greek.

The trick? Take your email communication policy right back to knickers-off basics

Believe me, I have learned this one the hard way.

There have been so many times when I sent a reasonably planned, detailed email to someone for whom I am working (or to someone who is a member of a committee to which I belong or of which I am Chair or yada, yada, whatever) … only to find that they react to the first sentence and then switch off.

End of. Rest of message vaporized. Does that ring a bell with you? I bet it does … it certainly rings bells with me and many, many other friends and colleagues of mine.

Here are some tips which usually work for me

1.Never hit “reply” without changing the subject line. So often in email communication you find yourself discussing the latest Daniel Craig movie when the subject line, which started out in perfect innocence, says “Have you seen this amazing new tanning spray?” That works with your friends, but won’t work with a busy executive who is scanning through his/her emails on a rainy Monday morning. If you want action from your email, change that subject line (see below).

2.Change the subject line to something that kicks butt. Obviously as this is not a sales email environment we’re talking here, you don’t need to agonize over how to put over an immediate benefit for the reader. Nonetheless, if your email is a 7th regurgitation of “FW … FW … FW … Our management meeting last Friday” it’s not going to get as much attention from recipients as it would were you to head it “Why my plan will make us hit our targets next quarter.” Use a new twist to an existing thread of emails to highlight your  perspective.

3.Only email about one issue at a time. I know you want to share 3, 4 or more issues with your colleagues because it saves time, but trust me (and here speaks the voice of painful experience) in email format they only absorb one  issue at a time. Don’t expect people – especially those who use smartphones and other, small devices – to read on through more than that. And so…

4.Set up a fresh email for each topic you need to share with them. This achieves two important goals: one, it flags up the most important issue you want the recipient to deal with and two, it means that the recipient will not need to worry about other issues that could crop up further on in your email. S/he will find it easy to focus on what you want them to.

7 ways to write non-sales emails that get results now

Keep your day-to-day work emails simple if
you want people to read and act on them

5.Use simple, no-sh*t, uncluttered language. No matter how august and intellectual your business or community interest might be, forget it in an email. Email is all about simplicity – getting things done without a fuss. Keep your language simple and go straight for what you want your recipient to do. Any long-windedness in emails tends to be ignored … and that’s no bad thing.

6.Keep the length right down. As I said above the reality is, people tend only to read the first few lines of an email before losing interest, and/or filing it “to read later” which of course they never do. If you keep your text short so it’s read “above the fold” (without the reader having to scroll down) you’ll find you get much better results.

7.At the end of your (very short) message, repeat what you want recipients to do. No matter how much you may feel you have emphasized what you want recipients of your message to do as a result of your email, whack the main point down again. It can’t hurt, and may just get you the more successful results you want.

Good luck!

More help to get your writing acted on NOW  (instant downloads)

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write
“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English
The MAMBA Way to make your words sell“…how to think your way to superbly successful sales writing

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

How to write posters that get results: commercial

On a commercial level, posters – despite being very low-tech – have a useful role to play in tying marketing efforts down to, or within, a specific geographical area.

For example, on the way out to airports from city centres you’ll often see posters advertising airlines, car rental, duty-free stores, hotels, entertainment and so-on geared entirely towards people on their way to and from an airport by car, taxi, train or bus.

All over the world you’ll see posters by roadsides advertising something of potential interest to drivers. The words “last petrol before MXX motorway” or “last gas station for XXX miles” or similar, are common in many countries. This facility of poster advertising is of special interest to local advertisers, either to encourage local business or to catch passing trade.

Say you’re running a Spanish restaurant in the UK. First, how could you encourage local trade with a general poster, but aimed primarily at the more sophisticated commuters who can afford to eat out regularly? Here’s a poster idea (which would need to be accompanied by an appropriate illustration)…

Tonight, drive home to dinner in sunny Spain … right here in XXXtown

El Salmonella’s … a delicious Taste Of Spain in John Street

You might decide to spread that notion across to the daytime traffic as well, including people going shopping in the town or going elsewhere for an evening out…

Why drive to the city when you can enjoy the bright lights of XXXtown?

El Salmonella’s … a delicious evening out at John Street’s Taste Of Spain

Naturally you can’t put in opening days and times and other information , but with luck you’ll have bought a memorable website domain name which uses the same  name and in which you can include necessary information and/or failing that, you can place ads in the local press giving your location and details. The poster’s job is to kickstart people’s thoughts and reinforce the fact that the restaurant is local by giving the name of the street.

You could use a similar poster at the local railway and/or bus station to catch commuters returning from work. The structure there should be the same although you can add a bit more detail as they, in theory, have more time to absorb information than drivers do. However many people will decide to go out for a meal on impulse, especially if they’re tired after a day’s work and can’t  be bothered to cook. In this case they won’t hang around to read the small print, so you need to make sure they get the idea at a glance…and provide a phone number so they can make a table reservation right away on their cellphones:

Take someone special to dinner in sunny Spain tonight

…right here in XXXtown

El Salmonella’s, John Street

Book your table now on 01XXX XXX XXX

Or, if it’s during your vacation season, you might like to try…

Could you do with a little Spanish holiday tonight?

Delicious dining in XXXtown’s own corner of Spain

El Salmonella’s, John Street – book now on 01XXX XXX XXX

Finally, let’s put something together for passing trade. We assume that XXXtown is on a main road which carries a lot of vacationers on their way to and from their destinations, along with business people commuting by car.

For a delicious meal, drive straight on to Spain…

…right here in XXXtown

El Salmonella’s, John Street

Or alternatively:

 Drop into sunny Spain for a delicious meal…

…right here in XXXtown

El Salmonella’s, John Street

Turn left at next lights

Hasta la vista!

Make sure all your writing gets results:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English