5 ways to "unlevel the playing field" with email
👉 simple steps to get an edge over big firms
Business sometimes feels like it’s stacked against the little guy.
We don’t have deep pockets, economies of scale or mutual back-scratchy old-boy networks to tap into.
And we certainly don’t have huge advertising budgets, massive brand awareness or oligarch-level expense accounts to help with marketing.
But we do have a bunch of things going for us that help us level the playing field - or even tilt it in our favour. Especially when it comes to email and newsletters.
Firstly, we have personality.
If you’ve worked for a big professional firm you’ll know they have the odd “character” in them. But usually they get weeded out or ground down into the same cookie-cutter dullsville conformity as everyone else.
And even if their individual staff members have a bit of personality, it’s never allowed to show in corporate communications.
Which means the quirky phrases, in-jokes, weird gifs, asides and other bits of business we put in our emails stand out a mile and are way more memorable than the snoozefests the big firms send out.
I know, I’m subscribed to bunches of them.
Takeaway: don’t be afraid to be you in your emails. I’ll never “outprofessional” a big firm but I can certainly “out-Ian” them.
Secondly, we have a Point of View. Often a bunch of them.
Not the “let’s do a big survey, make some generic comments and then say it means they need to buy one of our big programs” points of view you see all too often.
But genuine points of view about what‘s best for our clients, our industry, our world. Points of view people might actually disagree with. But that they also might fall in love with.
Takeaway: share your best ideas in your emails. Trigger a big lightbulb moment for a client and you’ll be in pole position when they need help.
Thirdly, we have speed.
Things move glacially in big organisations. And the mountains of approvals they have to go through means that by the time they get to actually send anything out, all the energy has drained from it.
You can move fast. Get a good idea today, get an email out tomorrow morning while you’re still buzzing and enthusiastic about it. Get feedback and send another one in a few days time. Clients need that kind of speed from the partners they work with and they’ll see it in your emails.
Takeaway: don’t wait until your ideas are polished and perfect before sharing them in your emails. Co-opt your readers into your thinking process. Share fast and share early, get feedback and improve.
Fourthly, we can engage.
When was the last time you replied to a newsletter from a big firm and got a reply from the actual author of the article?
Exchanging emails and bouncing ideas around is the first step to picking up the phone and bouncing ideas around. And that’s the first step towards working together.
Takeaway: treat replies to your emails as a gift and get back to people fast.
Finally, we can be easy to do business with.
I signed up to get emails from a big firm recently. After putting in my email address I had to tell them my name, job title, company name, function, country and confirm I wasn’t a robot.
I then got a so-called welcome email with more buttons I could click to subscribe for more stuff from them. One of them being their flagship journal where apparently “For the best viewing experience” I should “use a tablet, laptop, or desktop computer”.
Hello big firm, it’s the 1970s calling, they want their email signup process back.
With well over half of all emails opened on mobile you’d think one of their boffins would figure out how to make their main newsletter useful on a small screen.
Takeaway: make signing up for and reading your emails easy. It’s not that hard!
Now in truth, I’ve been a bit hard on big firms in order to make a point. I’m sure they have people with personalities and good ideas that can act quite fast, and might even engage with subscribers.
But I hope you get the point. Email is an area where big firms (or frankly, most firms) are quite weak. It’s an area where you can stand out by just doing a few basic things well.
Make sure you do :)
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