Last week, I was working at my desk when I heard some chatter in the office. Several architects in the office were commenting on an email we all received. They were saying how fishy it looked before they deleted it.
Even though I was working toward a deadline, I couldn’t help myself. I took a break from my work to check the email out for myself.
It was from a building product manufacturer I’ve seen before. And I’d always thought their products looked pretty cool. But I had to agree — this email made you want to hit ‘delete’ before you got through the four sentences.
Well, actually, I did delete it! But then quickly hit ‘undo’ so I could share it as an example for you here. A teaching moment, if you will.
Below, I’m going to reprint the cold email blast we got, and my comments will follow.
(To protect the innocent, I’ve removed the names and any obvious indicators of who the company was…)
After you read this example, be sure you let me know if you want more of these breakdowns.
I save all my mail and packages I receive from building product marketing and sales teams. (I’m weird like that)
And I’ll let you “look over my shoulder” with more of these breakdowns — but only if you think it’s valuable and tell me so.
The offending email…
Sent: Monday, October 29, 2018 2:09 PM
To: Neil Sutton
Subject: Future Projects
Good afternoon Neil,
I’d like to compliment the variety and quality of projects that you have been involved with. I’m writing to you because I’d like to be a part of a project in the near future. If you ever need help on xxx, like xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, etc. just give me a call or email me. In the meantime, I’d like to send you our brochures, booklets, and also our USB library card filled with BIM and CAD files so you can get a better idea of what our specialties are.
<<insert 15 line email signature with huge version of the company logo, 10 different colors, 5 social media links, 4 “flair stamps.” (Seriously – I measured my screen… the signature block was six inches tall on my screen and the email content itself was less than an inch…)>>
First of all, let me explain why I wanted to share this with you.
It’s not to shame the author of that email. Or anyone who is guilty of writing one like it.
It’s to make sure you – my super-smart marketing friend – know what goes through an architect’s mind when they see something like this in their email inbox.
I hear a lot of building product companies say email marketing doesn’t work for them. “We’ve tried it and it just doesn’t work for us…”
If this is the type of emails someone sends out to architects (or any professional) I can see why it hasn’t worked.
Email marketing can be your greatest asset for staying in touch with architects. And for creating engagement. But only if you do it right.
This example is NOT the right way. Here’s my breakdown of each sentence to help you understand why:
Sentence #1 – You didn’t do your homework
[“I’d like to compliment the variety and quality of projects that you have been involved with.”]
Right out of the box, they offered a very generic platitude meant to make me feel flattered. (Didn’t work.)
They insinuate they took the time to check out my projects. But they’re offering a product intended for homes. And all our firm’s projects are in the commercial, healthcare and education markets.
This screams as just another example of “spray-and-pray” marketing. They got a list from our local AIA chapter and sent a generic email to everyone. Hoping it would stick with someone.
They might get a few residential architects to check them out. But for most of us, they left a bad taste in our mouth. And if we ever do have a need for what they’re selling, we’ll steer clear of their brand.
The fix? Do the homework. If you rent or buy a mailing list – find out which firms specialize in residential projects.
Take 15 minutes to check out their website to get a general understanding of what they do. Customize the emails to each firm to mention one of their projects. Do something to show me you actually cared enough to take a look at me. And maybe I’ll take a look at you.
Imagine for a moment – a friend is introducing you to someone. But that someone is looking at their phone during the introduction and doesn’t even look up to see you. They just absently raise a hand and mumble “Hi-nice-to-meet-you,” and keep looking at their phone. (Kinda’ like when I talk to one of my teenagers at home…)
Now compare that to the same introduction, but the other person stands up and pockets their phone. Then looks you in the eye and shakes your hand, while saying, “Hi! I’m glad to meet you. So how long have you known Bob here?” Asking questions and showing a genuine interest in you.
Who are you more likely to want to know more? Have a conversation with?
Sentence #2 – I. Don’t. Care. What. You. Want.
[“I’m writing to you because I’d like to be a part of a project in the near future.”]
This sentence is telling me he wants to be part of my next project.
Here’s a harsh truth you need to come to terms with.
An architect doesn’t care what you want.
They don’t care about your product. They don’t care if you make your sales quota for the month, quarter or year. They don’t care…
If you want to capture an architect’s attention, show them how you’re going to help them save time, money, or energy.
Or how your product will make their client’s life easier. Easier maintenance. A new look for their building that will attract more customers. Energy and money savings.
Make it about them (and/or their client). Not you.
Sentence #3 – Me want cookie!
[“If you ever need help on xxx, like xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, etc. just give me a call or email me.”]
This sentence is getting a little closer to the mark. It tells me what areas you can help me in. But it’s still a weak call-to-action.
Dean Jackson on the I Love Marketing podcast has a great metaphor for this…
If I invite you over to my house, set you on the living room couch and say, “I’ll be in the other room. But feel free to help yourself to the kitchen.”
You probably won’t feel comfortable enough to take me up on that offer.
However, if I brought out a tray of cookies, held it out to you and said, “Please take a cookie. They’re your favorite and I made them just for you.” How likely are you to take one of those cookies?
Pretty likely, right?
So, make a clear offer for something you know your prospect wants or needs. And they’re much more likely to take the next step toward you.
How do you know what the architect wants? That’s where you need to do your research.
Sentence #4 – Oh good! More crap for my desk!
[“In the meantime, I’d like to send you our brochures, booklets, and also our USB library card filled with BIM and CAD files so you can get a better idea of what our specialties are.’]
This last sentence is not at all enticing. “Hey, I’d like to send you a big box of stuff you’ll never look at and have to recycle next spring when you clean out your office.”
How about a PDF of a case study where you helped an architect like me solve a problem I might be having? Or maybe a report or white paper to teach me about the value and benefits your product provides?
Or maybe a link to a new calculator you added to your website showing how I can use your products most efficiently?
Or, maybe it is a physical package. But make it memorable. Make it a “shock-and-awe” package that makes me sit up in my chair and show it to my colleagues.
Sure you’ll include some of your literature. But you can also include something else I’m not expecting along with a personal note.
Bottom line – connect with me through something I want or can use immediately.
The signature – Whoa! Easy there, big fella!
I can’t really show you the email signature they used without giving away the company name.
Trust me, though. It’s big. It’s gaudy. And unprofessional.
It reminded me of my son’s email signature in middle school to show everybody how much he likes race cars.
I’m all for informative email signatures. Even including links and small images to catch attention.
But you’ve got to look at it through your prospects eyes. And an architect’s first impression of this email was to quickly close it and hit delete. And hope he didn’t just download a virus or something.
I hope this breakdown is helpful and valuable for you.
If it was and you’d like to see more of these breakdowns, LET ME KNOW!
Shoot me a quick email ([email protected]) with “More Look-Over-Neil’s-Shoulder breakdowns, please” in the subject line, and I’ll start doing more breakdowns of the good and bad marketing I’m seeing.
I see examples every day in my work through emails, snail mail, magazines, websites, you name it. I’d love to share my insights with you. But only if you think it’s valuable.
So let me hear from you.
Make it a great marketing day!