If you live in the 21st century, as most people in England, though not all, do, you are probably constantly inundated with too-good-to-miss sales offers by e-mail. Unsolicited email is normally not very well received and, even as I savagely delete it, I curse the sender, wondering why they see fit to torment me so. However last week I reacted differently to a marketing email; I opened it and read through about 75% of its content before deleting it, without even swearing. 

Furthermore, I was so inspired by the piece that I had to write about it.

What was it about this run-of-the-mill, annoying marketing spiel that grabbed my attention? Well for starters it was none of those things. I was tricked into reading an entire email marketing pitch precisely because I didn’t know it was an email marketing pitch, at least not before getting to the marketing bit, which was 75% through the email.

The email was from Guy Ullman from Process Industry Informer, who insisted that he not be called Gary. That personal touch struck a chord with me because my name, Nkoyo, is frequently mispronounced and misspelled.

First of all he addressed the email to me and me alone. He used my first name and then proceeded to tell me in detail about an upcoming vacation. I didn’t recognise the sender of the email before I opened it, but in my line of work I do look forward to receiving emails from people I don’t know well and I thought Guy was someone I had met at a seminar, business gathering or even a subscriber to this Blog.

I wasn’t expecting to read about someone’s holiday so I was intrigued. On progressing through the story found it engaging and funny. Even when I got to the marketing bit I carried on reading because at that point I had really come to like Guy and thought he had something important to say - especially to me. Professionally, I appreciate the tactic that Guy employed so I decided I could share a few tips with you.

Establishing the connection was important in getting my attention, using my first name created intimacy and finding a common ground between the both of us (i.e. the challenge of people getting our names right) made me think he not only knew me but ‘got’ me.

Telling a story was a good idea because it ensured that I wouldn’t find the e-mail annoying. Instead, I was willing to read through an entire email from a total stranger.

Finally ensuring his marketing email contained virtually no appeals to buy anything, at least not until the end, engaged my attention fully and left me feeling both amused and slightly sheepish.

So thanks for the e-mail Gary. Sorry, Guy.

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