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Why trying too hard in your emails backfires like…

…banning alcohol leads to the mob

I don’t usually talk about cold emails in these daily musings. Partly because I don’t check my spam folder enough for hot content from Nigerian princes offering me billions of (fake) dollars. Partly because while I use cold email to run my business, I outsourced it eons ago, and don’t spend much time thinking about cold email or angles for said emails.

That said, I realize many of you probably use cold email in some capacity to grow your business. I’ve also written cold email scripts for clients in B2C (in my own business, my cold emails were always B2B). And I got a perfect example in my inbox right meow of a cold email trying too hard.

Here’s the story:

Few days back, someone reached out to me offering what they call “rockstar growth.”

(Already sounds cringey…)

Cringier than that, they made an overt reference to my college. In fact, lemme show you how she started this email:


Hey John --

Go Guins! I see that we're both Youngstown State alum -- pretty cool.


(Seems like she didn’t do a lick of research on me—besides perusing my LinkedIn? which I’m not even sure of, because I don’t know if I listed the college I dropped out of on my LinkedIn page—because I make it no secret that I dropped out of college and in fact have several blog posts and even full websites littered across the interwebs about my hate for college and how dropping out was one of the best decisions a younger me made. To make matters worse, I have zero reason to believe she actually graduated from Youngstown State and is genuine instead of using some lame cold email template.)

In her follow up message I received today, she again hit me with the cringey “Go Guins!”

(Ma’am, are you aware that I did not graduate from this school?)

And it brings up a wider point about trying too hard in emails, which applies equally to emails to your list as it does to cold email:

There’s no faster way to derail your credibility by coming off as a try hard (especially considering if you, in fact, did not try hard at all). Like I said, a lick of research on me would’ve let her know I despise college. And, while I doubt I ever would’ve worked with someone promising to help me achieve “rockstar growth” (what does that even mean???), you can bet your sweet arse that she nuked whatever minimal interest I already had.

I see this mistake happening in email copy and copy in general too.

It’s when a young, inexperienced copywriter takes a new Guru™ Course they found from mingling in cringey Facebook groups like Cult of Copy, and learn the secret skill of “storyselling,” which as the unimaginative name suggests, means telling a story that sells. (Personally, I prefer “edusuasion,” “infotainment,” or even “infosuasion.”)

Now, “storyselling” as they call it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it is when wielded by an inexperienced copywriter because they make up stories, assume different beliefs and actions of their target audience, and miss the mark more than stormtroopers miss Jedis.

When you assume something about your ideal customer—whether it’s the college you think they graduated from, or you’re trying to “relate” to them with an assumed and fictional story—if you’re wrong, as the cold email gal was above or the inexperienced copywriter often is after learning about “storyselling,” then you do more damage to brand than you’d ever hope to gain.

It’s one of the many ways copy backfires and actually repels your ideal clients away instead of magnetizing them to you.

Sum food for thought.

And while we’re on the topic, if you need help writing your email copy, manning your email strategy ship, and sending your revenue to the metaphorical mooooooon, book a call here, and let’s see if working together makes sense for us.


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