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Inbound Marketing

Do you use email every day for marketing and outreach?  Not every email is the same – there are a number of different types, each with a different goal.  How many have you used?  Great marketers know that using the right stimulus at the right time will yield the desired results.  Using marketing emails inappropriately will only annoy the recipient – and drive them away.

Eight email marketing letters:

  1. Buy Now offer:  This email assumes that the prospect is ready to purchase at the precise time that you are ready to sell.  It is vastly overused, usually by list-scraping spammers, and clumsy marketers.  Buy Now is most effective when there is already a relationship, and the prospect has already indicated an interest.
  2. Discovery and Engagement Query:  This type of email is a purpose-written email designed to give you more information: demographic, psychographic, about their challenges, or about their requirements.   No matter the goal, it always asks for some information, and seeks to solicit a response.
  3. Nurture value-add:  A nurture email (sometimes called a “drip” email) is one that gives something of value to the respondent (a tip, a link, a whitepaper, etc) in order to remind the recipient that you provide a particular product or service.  Unlike the Buy Now email, a Nurture email recognizes that the prospect may not want to buy on your schedule: when they eventually are ready to purchase, they will think of you.  The Nurture value-add is a give email, not a sell one.
  4. Trial offer: Many people are unwilling to transact because they are uncertain whether or not you – or your services – can indeed solve their problems.  This type of email offers the prospect an opportunity to test-drive your solution: they get to taste the chocolate before buying the entire box.  There are two different types of trial offers that can usually be made: (1) A free value stand-alone offer, such as an assessment or audit, or (2) Access to an online resource for a defined period of time, usually 2-4 weeks.  (Near the end of the trial, the prospect might get another email, usually of the Buy Now variety.)
  5. The Warm Introduction: Nobody likes a cold call, and it is generally ineffective for that reason.  A warm call – where you are able to get a pre-introduction, is far more likely to bear fruit.  The same holds true for an email.  The Warm Intro email must quickly credentialize (eg what is the common connection between you), explain the reason for the intrusion (for that is what it is), and provide a rationale for engaging in a next step.  This email is even better if it is a third party endorsement, where a mutual contact sends this type of intro for you.
  6. The Friendly Hello:  This is very much like a nurture email, except it is motivated by the existing relationship between you and the prospect/client.  It is designed to begin widening the relationship from one that is mostly professional, to one that is also personal.
  7. Invoice Transmittal letter:  This is the email that contains your invoice.  While they typically are terse, and are often automatically sent by either a system or a clerk, they really are the most important marketing and sales emails you will ever send.  The reason is that the attachment – your invoice – will be weighed against all you have delivered; if there is no reminder of your value, then they may not equate your value with your fee.  The email should summarize the invoice, but in a way that speaks to the benefits provided by the transaction.  (And also thanks them for the opportunity to work together.)
  8. Post-sale thank you:  After the sale is the most important time to say thank you.  Not only does this convey appreciation, but it is a critical opportunity to address any potential buyer’s remorse.  This type of letter must absolutely restate the benefits in the buyer’s language, and in so doing begin the movement of the relationship from being a vendor, to being a trusted advisor.

This week’s action plan:  While all eight seem like common sense, most marketers use them opportunistically.  This week, use them strategically and intentionally.  And if you have the technology to do so, use them automatically.

Marketing Insight #1:  The concepts behind each of these emails are equally applicable to phone calls, and in-person meetings.

Marketing Insight #2:  The Relationship Curve describes a prospect’s journey from awareness, to preference, trial, and commitment.  In previous tipsheets, I have explored the concept of the Relationship Curve from a marketing planning perspective, but this same model can also be used for emails:

  • Awareness:  The Warm Intro
  • Preference:  Discovery and Engagement Query, Nurture Value-add
  • Trial:  Trial Offer email
  • Commitment:  Buy Now offer, Invoice Transmittal letter
  • Post-Commitment:  Post-sale Thank you, The Friendly Hello, (and Discovery and Engagement Query!)

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
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Have you ever had a problem – or a disastrous – project in your organization?  When this happens, it is often “clear” that the problem is with the consultants hired to help, and sadly, this is often true. But is some of the fault also with your organization?  While a previous post looked at issues from an external perspective, this post looks in the mirror:  can a project be structured in a way that can minimize the potential for it to go off the rails? And more specifically, what are some of the root factors that you might do something about?

  • Inconsistent leadership buy-in:  While most projects do have an executive sponsor, to be successful, most projects cut across organizational silos.  If the other groups do not see the project as important – and they get their lead from their executive managers – it is unlikely that they will spare the needed time.  Or worse, their disinterest (or unwillingness to change) may result in the project being sabotaged.
  • No internal project lead:  No matter how good the external consultants are, they don’t know your organization the way you do.  They don’t know your history, culture, affected stakeholders, nor can they fully interpret the political cues.  On a practical level, an internal project lead can wrangle internal resources, help with logistics, and be accountable for project progress.
  • Day job issue for resources:  Every project requires internal time commitments.  Staff are engaged during the discovery part of the engagement, during analysis and validation cycles, during training, and during the roll-out.  In fact, this engagement is precisely what will drive user buy-in and ultimately, a successful project. Yet these very same resources already have a day job, responsibilities, and deadlines.  Most will accept some additional work, but if the demand is excessive, or for two long a period of time, something will suffer: either their core responsibilities, or the project.
  • Inadequate budget:  As a higher ROI is a direct function of how low the cost can be driven, not unsurprisingly, there is great pressure to reduce the budget as much as possible.  If the internal time budget is limited, then analysis and training suffer – leading to the project’s benefits never being realized.   And if the external time budget is limited, then the opportunity for knowledge transfer (and the incorporation of best practices) is similarly limited.  In either case, project risk increases dramatically.
  • Inflated expectations:  It is too easy for both vendors and their internal sponsors to oversell both the ease of implementation, and the ultimate benefits of the project.  In some cases, expectations are so inflated that no matter how successful the project might be, it will be judged a failure. Realism, pragmatism, and perhaps a small dose of cynicism are far more healthy.

This week’s action plan:  Are all of your projects going exceptionally well?  Or do you think you just might be able to do better?  This week, review this list (and this one) and consider whether a slight mid-course correction – or a significant project pivot – can make a difference.

Management insight:  The best organizations use post-mortem meetings to understand how to improve in the future. This combined list of issues can also be used as a rating scale in these meetings: for each item, rate how well (or poorly) you did, along with how the grade might be improved on the next project.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Is Content Dead? (Yes… and No)

by Randall Craig June 3, 2016

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by Randall Craig October 9, 2015

With so much focus on public social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc), many are now questioning how these same social media concepts might be used within the organization. The fact is that most organizations function exceptionally well precisely because of the real-world social networks that have always existed.  The difference is the name: water cooler conversations, […]

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Unpacking Relationship Marketing

by Randall Craig March 13, 2015

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Top 10 Content Marketing Posts

by Randall Craig January 16, 2015

How is your content planning for the year coming along?  Or, perhaps the plan is in place, but you are now looking at a blank page, with an old-fashioned case of writer’s block. Fear not, as we have collected the top ten posts on content creation and inbound marketing. Blog Content Creation: Idea seeding:  How […]

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Consuming Content and Scanning Video

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15 factors for creating great videos (Part 2)

by Randall Craig December 12, 2014

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15 factors for creating great videos (Part 1)

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How to charge for content – or not

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You may have considered how content can be used to attract new members, new clients, or new partners.  But for all of the talk about Inbound Marketing, you are stopped by two simple questions:  If the content is so valuable, why should we give it away for free?  And if it isn’t valuable, then why […]

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Three Social Strategies

by Randall Craig September 26, 2014

Most organizations invest in their social footprint.  They start with a strategy, then execute it, monitor it, and if they are good, they feed these results back into the strategy.  A feedback loop is critical, as it both injects market knowledge into the organization, and enables continuous improvement. Unfortunately, this loop can also introduce a […]

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Does it (Google) Translate?

by Randall Craig July 11, 2014

If you are reading this, the chances are very high that you understand English. But what if you didn’t? What if your target audience didn’t? Or what if your target audience did understand, but felt more comfortable in their own mother tongue? The obvious solution: translate your content. The not-so-obvious question is how. There are […]

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20 Year Internet Anniversary

by Randall Craig May 23, 2014

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Cutting Through the Digital Clutter

by Randall Craig May 2, 2014

How much spam do you get in your email box each day?  Probably too much.  How many Social Media “updates” do you read each day?  Probably too many.  And how relevant are they?  Not. In the past, the challenge that marketers faced – cutting through the clutter – was solved by shouting louder, and shouting […]

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Viewpoint: Competing with Free

by Randall Craig January 24, 2014

Are you involved in your professional association? Or do you run one – either as a director, staff, or volunteer? If so, you’re probably concerned with one aspect of Social Media: How do you compete with free?  (Or perhaps, you’re concerned with a more existential question: Does social media make associations irrelevant?) Consider the evidence: […]

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Avoiding Social Incrementalism: Six Social Media Insights

by Randall Craig January 17, 2014

If you are ahead of the curve in your social media and web strategy, you know there is no magic bullet: your days are spent making minor changes to improve SEO, more minor changes to improve on-page conversion, and a-b testing to improve email response rates.  Once each year, however, it makes sense to rise […]

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Insight: Marketing Beyond Commitment with the Relationship Chain

by Randall Craig January 10, 2014

The Relationship Curve is one of the most important Marketing 2.0 concepts around.  It states that as relationships improve over time, the target person (prospective client, prospective member, prospective employee, etc) moves through the stages of awareness, preference, trial, and commitment. The job of marketing is to put together initiatives that help that target person […]

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Marketing Insight: White Papers and Inbound Marketing

by Randall Craig July 26, 2013

Nowadays, a white paper can be just about anything. In the olden days of the 1980s, it typically meant a definitive exploration of a specific topic, often 20 pages or more. The author (and their organization) would be recognized for this knowledge by the marketplace, resulting in queries, and eventually, new business. While some organizations […]

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Content Marketing and Thought Leadership

by Randall Craig February 15, 2013

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