Jon once wrote a cold email when he was drunk that changed his life, leading to meetings with some of the world’s largest brands.
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3 Key Points:
- One break can literally change somebody’s life altogether.
- The right words and the right order to the right people can take you almost anywhere in life.
- When you write to people, don’t write to the fancy job title. Write to the person behind that.
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Audio Masterclass Show Notes
**Click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.
- Today’s Audio MASTERCLASS: How to get the attention of anyone using humour and creativity.
- [00:00] – Jon shares something about himself that most people don’t know.
- [01:22] – How Jon managed to invite himself on the Entrepreneurs on Fire podcast…
- Every now and then you’ve got to take a big leap and take a chance. Jon knows that EOFire is one of the biggest entrepreneurial podcasts, and that’s why he took the chance.
- [02:41] – The drunk, cold email that changed Jon’s life.
- He moved to London to work for an online marketing agency.
- There are certain things marketing agencies practice that he didn’t agree with, so he decided to start his own agency with his brother, Gary.
- It’s easy to run an agency when you’ve got someone giving you hot leads.
- He didn’t want to disappoint his staff, so he dealt with the issues the only way he knew how: He got drunk and wrote the most absurd, cold email he could possibly come up with. He came up with something that was going to be different than what anyone else was sending.
- He sent that email to some of the world’s largest brands like Red Bull, Pepsi, etc., and he got the most complimentary responses back.
- [06:58] – Jon reverse engineers what happened in that one instance.
- If you do a Google search for best cold email template, every single one is the same, short, functional template.
- His goal with the emails he sent was to make people laugh.
- The email starts with something self-effacing. Something honest.
- [09:09] – Jon breaks down what the Waterfall Cascading Effect is.
- The format of his email just keeps winning someone’s attention. It makes you smile, and then he puts a little pitch in. Then it makes you laugh again, averts your attention, and then he puts another little pitch in. It gives you the upper hand that you don’t have in a normal message.
- If someone is smiling or laughing when they read your sales message, they’re more likely to respond positively and remember you.
- When he wrote that drunk, cold email, he was using joke formulas.
- [12:37] – The many uses of charming copy.
- The right words and the right order to the right people can take you almost anywhere in life.
- This type of copy qualifies and disqualifies people based on their sense of humor. People reply like a friend and not in a corporate tone, and that gives you a huge advantage against your competitors.
- He has also used this charming copy for job interviews.
- [17:40] – Jon’s insights about how he looks at fancy job titles a little bit different.
- People put people with senior job titles on a pedestal and partly, that is out of respect.
- When you write to people, don’t write to the fancy job title. Write to the person behind that.
- Those people with fancy job titles in massive companies, they are still people. And you can get their attention by making them laugh.
- [20:49] – Jon’s tactics for the right words and the right order.
- There’s something missing in this sentence: “The right words and the right order to the right people can take you almost anywhere in life.” What’s missing is the right time.
- If you contact people who just had a career change, that is a trigger moment you should try and get in front with.
- [23:14] – How to use an ‘archaic’ piece of technology to reach the most sought-after prospects.
- If you want to do something that’s a bit classier and less silly, send a handwritten letter. Use the charming copy and be disarming. Then, a few days later, send a follow-up message that mentions the handwritten letter in the subject line.
- [26:04] – Use these specific, persuasive tactics to close the deal.
- Enthusiasm – If you show your natural enthusiasm, that can defeat any weapon that your competitors have no matter how big they are.
- Take your junior with you to sales pitches.
- Do ad consultancy for people for free in exchange for a case study.
- [30:27] – Jon talks about the Charm Offensive Tactics
- If you create an interesting story, you can get massive PR coverage that would otherwise cost you thousands in advertising, or more
- [34:13] – The irresistible offer that Jon has for Fire Nation.
- He created a new path for the purpose of persuading Fire Nation to sign up to his email list. It’s called Jon’s Big Fire Nation Moment Goodie Bag :)
- Go to Jon’s Big Fire Nation Moment Pack – Get access to what Jon has to offer — Joke formulas, rhetorical devices, and more!
- Check out Charm Offensive Coaching – Jon shows how to start conversations with your ideal clients using direct mail or cold email; plus, how to build your influence using cold-pitching!
JLD: Boom. Shake the room, Fire Nation. JLD here with an Audio Masterclass where we are going to share with you how to get the attention of anyone using humor and creativity with Jon Buchanan, and this guy is gonna break down the drunk cold email that changed his life. We’re gonna be talking about the right words in the right order to the right people can get you almost anywhere in life, and how to use an archaic piece of technology to reach the most sought after prospects, and so much more value bombs are coming left and right, Fire Nation.
Now, Jon once wrote a cold email when he was drunk that changed his life, and it led to meeting some of the world’s largest brands, and you have to hear us break this down, Fire Nation, when we get back from thanking our sponsor. So, Jon, say what’s up to Fire Nation and share something interesting about yourself that most people don’t know.
Jon: Greetings, Fire Nation. So, something about me that people don’t know, I stated my first business when I was 16, and the reason for that is when I was a youngster, I had quite the babyface, and I needed a fake ID to get served beer, so that was my education into learning about design and stuff. And from there, I started selling plastic-like business cards to businesses, and that’s where I got into XTL and PPC to get people to my business. So, if I hadn’t had a babyface, I probably wouldn’t have ended up doing what I’m doing now. So, everyone used to say, “You’re gonna be happy you’ve got a babyface when you’re older,” and they turned out to be right.
JLD: I love these little fun facts. Jon, thank you for sharing that. And, Fire Nation, you’re in for a doozy today because our Audio Masterclass is how to get the attention of anyone using humor and creativity, and I can tell you, Fire Nation, here in 2018, 2019, 2020 – whenever you’re listening to this, attention is at a premium, and using humor, using creativity is critical, and Jon here is gonna be chatting all about that because that’s actually why he’s on here today. He’s pretty cool. So, let’s actually dive right in, Jon, with how you managed to invite yourself on the revered Entrepreneurs on Fire podcast. Let’s just dive right in.
Jon: So, I’ve been doing this for about a year and a half, this selling information products, and having a group called Charm Offensive on Facebook, and having an email list. And I decided it was about time. I’ve been doing all this incremental stuff to grow my audience and to get better at this stuff, but every now and then, you’ve gotta take a big leap, you’ve gotta take a chance, and I know that you’re one of the biggest entrepreneurial podcasts, and I thought, “I’m gonna take a chance.”
I’m ready now. I’ve got enough of it I know works really well, I’ve built up goodwill and an audience, it’s time to take a big jump, so I decided I think it was last week sometime, I decided I’m gonna give it a go, and I sent you an email, and I’m very, very happy to get a response and to be talking to you now.
JLD: Well, it can sometimes, Fire Nation, happen just like that. We’re gonna be getting into specifics of this. I mean, we’re gonna reverse engineer this stuff. We’re gonna talk about charming copy. We’re gonna be doing a lot of things that are really going to be helping you, Fire Nation, and your business with attention, with copy, with creativity – such critical stuff. So, let’s just start with a drunk cold email that changed your life, Jon. What was that?
Jon: Excellent. So, this might sound a bit like a life story, but I promise it’s not. So, I had that first business, and in 2006, January 2006, I was depressed. And I loved the marketing stuff. I didn’t really like printing because printers are the most annoying device on the planet, but I loved marketing. So, January 2006, one week I just decided I wanna move to London, and this was the first cold pitch I ever sent.
Actually, it might be the one that we’re gonna talk about today, but it was essentially I looked up in Google “online marketing agencies London” and I just sent a bullet point list of my skills, and I got an interview, and a week later I had moved to London, and that’s when I started working at online marketing agencies. And basically, in the five year period, I quit my way to the top. I did great work, got great results, then went to another agency. And after a while, about five years, I realized that I think I can do this better myself. I’m mature enough now having all of this experience, I think I can do it better myself because there were certain things that agencies did that I didn’t agree with.
So, I decided I’m gonna put my notice in, and I started my own agency with my brother Gary. And for about a year, it was fine because I had all of the word of mouth leads, and I had people I’d contacted that I used to work with or were a supplier, but when all of that dried up, I realized, “Oh, it’s easy to run an agency when you’ve got someone giving you hot leads.” You know, I had great business development people. I didn’t know how to open cold. I knew how to close deals. I would go in with salespeople and help close. I didn’t know how to open, and I had payroll to meet now. I really did not wanna disappoint my staff.
So, I dealt with that the only way I knew how, I got blind drunk and wrote the most absurd cold email I could possibly come up with. And I don’t remember much of that evening, but I do remember thinking, “This has gotta be different to what everyone else is sending,” because even though I offered digital marketing, I would get cold emails offering me digital marketing. So, I knew what everyone else was sending, and basically, in that drunken moment, I’d wrote that email, and in the morning, I still thought it was a good idea to send that email to very senior people at some of the world’s largest brands like Red Bull, Hewlett Packard, Symantec, PepsiCo.
And to my amazement, it worked. I got some of the most complimentary responses back saying things like, “I never reply to these. I’ve been working in this industry for 20 years, and I get hundreds of prospecting emails every week, and I haven’t replied to a single one until now.” Loads like that, but my favorite one simply read, “My colleague forwarded me your spam email, and we would like to meet you to discuss opportunities,” which I just thought was the most oxymoronic sort of sentence.
And then I realized, “Oh, if I keep sending this, every time I press this button, this keeps happening,” and that’s when I realized, “Oh, I’ve cracked onto something here,” and I realized I could use this for any purpose. So, when I won new clients, I could use those same skills to get journalists to reply to me, or to get people to events, or all of these other asks that you have to make as a business. I also realized I’m always gonna be asking for opportunities for myself now, and that is an amazing place to be, and that’s where I like to get [inaudible] [00:06:48] the people because it’s a real great feeling of control.
JLD: So, do you mean to tell me that this cold email did not start off with “Dear Sir or Madam”?
Jon: Even worse than that is the ones that start with the infomercial tone, so, “Hi, Jon, do you have problems navigating the everchanging social media landscape?” It’s just like, I don’t know anyone that speaks like that, but that’s how we’d write our emails apparently.
JLD: I just feel like people need to realize that the word “madam” just isn’t really a word that we still use in normal conversation, so to everybody listening out there that may have sent a “Dear Sir or Madam” email, which I’d be shocked if anybody in Fire Nation has, don’t do it for obvious reasons. Now, one thing that I’ve seen – and again, Jon, I’ve had experience with thousands of interviews, being interviewed, being pitched all these different things – I’ve seen that one break – just one break – can literally change somebody’s life altogether.
It can literally be that thing where it causes a pivot or adjustment or whatever it might be, and it can change everything, and I’m just talking one break. And you got your one break, so let’s reverse engineer that accidental drunk cleverness. Let’s break it down for Fire Nation.
Jon: There are a few different things, one we’ve spoken about already which is the tone is completely different. If you look, if you do a Google search for “best cold email template”, pretty much every single one is the same short functional template, and the logic is that CEOs, etc., don’t have time to look at emails. They don’t have the attention span, and you keep your copy short, and you shouldn’t use humor, and you should use pain points. There’s all of these rules, and I was just like, no, I’m just gonna make people laugh. So, there’s a way that my emails are formatted and all of my messaging, and it usually starts with something self-effacing, something honest.
So, my email to you, for example, starts with the line, “Greetings, John. I wanted to introduce myself in a way that showed I was interesting, witty, and clever. Alas, I wrote this email instead.” And it’s just a funny little opener. Another one I used to use – this was actually on my original drunk email – was, “Greetings, John. You’ve never heard of me. Hi, I’m Jon. I got your details from a list (gasp), but hey, at least you’re list-worthy. That’s gotta be worth something, right?”
So, not only mentioning the fact that I only have got the details from a list but turning it into a compliment. Like, who starts an email with that? Usually, that’s something you would avoid talking about, but instead, call out the elephant in the room and you will disarm your prospects. So, that is a very big part of it is that very first line. It’s gotta get you to read the next line.
JLD: That’s kind of one thing I wanna jump and say that I found was that just reading the first line of the email that you sent me brought me to the next line, but that usually is where it ends because then I’m just like, “Oh, okay. Yeah, that was witty and clever,” but then it kind of gets into the –but then your second line got me to the third, got me to the fourth. It just was this Waterfall Cascading Effect, so keep breaking this down for us, Jon.
Jon: Sure. So, I actually went on Kevin Rogers’ podcast last year when I was starting my group, and he told me my email actually partly kind of used one of his formulas, which is the sales [inaudible] [00:10:09] that he developed from standup comedy. But also he said – and this generally how it works – is it just keeps winning your attention. So, I’ll make you smile, or I’ll make you smirk at least, then I can put a little pitch in. Then I’m gonna make you laugh again, avert your attention, then I’m gonna put another pitch in. So, it kind of gives you this leeway that you don’t have with a normal message. If someone is smiling or laughing when they’re reading your sales message, they’re more likely to respond –
JLD: So true.
Jon: – and respond positively and remember you. That is a huge benefit to this stuff. The other thing that’s about this approach that is different is I didn’t ever study copywriting, actually only in the last year because I’ve been writing sales pages and stuff, but I never studied copywriting. My background – well, “background” – is I used to watch standup comedy, sitcoms, funny movies from the ages of about four until 16, until the early years of the morning, mostly American standups and sitcoms. And it turns out when I wrote that email and I reverse engineered it, obviously, I wasn’t using copywriting hooks.
I was using joke formulas, things like the comic triple, the reverse. I saw them there, and I was like, “Oh, that’s what I’m doing.” No one else is doing that, and it’s a completely different way of writing to people because you’re writing to the person rather than the job title. See, I usually [inaudible] [00:11:25] sugarcoat when I ask for a call, so I say, “If you agree to a meeting with me to talk about your digital marketing needs, I will take you for lunch or tequila shots and promise to be somewhat entertaining. If you’re lucky, I may even wear a top hat. First off, I’d just love to give you some ideas you’re free to steal. Would you be up for a quick call or meeting?”
That basically, it’s making them an offer that they probably have never heard before. I imagine that my competitors offer them all sorts of fancy lunches and all sorts, but no one offered to take them out for tequila shots. And also, the other persuasive part about that is the mention of ideas that they’re free to steal. So, instead of it appearing like they’re gonna be hard sold to, instead, it’s like, “Oh, actually, I’m going to benefit even if I never speak to them again. I’m gonna get some ideas that might be useful to me.” So, there are loads and loads of little different persuasive devices in there.
I think overall, if I was to sum it up, the tone of these emails is I’m gonna level with you. And if I was to do a little one-liner to tell people that they should use this method, that would be B-to-B doesn’t have to stand for boring-to-boring.
JLD: Fire Nation, I love that one phrase, “I’m gonna level with you.” I mean, when’s the last time somebody just looked to you and said, “I wanna level with you”? I mean, when I hear that, I’m like, “All right, this person gets it. They’re not gonna waste my time. They’re gonna level with me, and they’re just going to be real.” It’s so key. Then that B-to-B, it does not have to be boring, Fire Nation. It does not have to be boring. And one thing that I’ve definitely found with you, Jon, is that there are actually many uses of charming copy. So, break down a few of those.
Jon: First off, I’ll say that I’ve got a little phrase that I like to trot out, which is the right words in the right order to the right people can take you almost anywhere in life. And this type of copy can do a lot of things. So, one of the things is obviously it can get you sales calls and meetings, but there’s something more to it than that. It qualifies and disqualifies people based on sense of humor. So, the people that reply, they reply like a friend. They don’t reply in corporate tone. They’re speaking to you like a friend. That’s a huge advantage over your competitors. They’re excited to speak to you, rather than just a lukewarm agreement, “All right, I’ll do it,” cool.
They’re actually really excited because you’ve made them laugh, you’ve made them smile, they’re gonna get free ideas, and they already have a high opinion of you. Because you’ve got cut-through in a clever way, that’s very persuasive. And whenever they tell people in there that they’re colleagues, they’re gonna bring up that story. So, you can make the best possible first impression with this approach. So, one objection that people have is they – particularly to my LinkedIn profile – so my profile picture is a clearly photoshopped, I’ll admit, picture of me rescuing a basket of kittens and a baby from a burning building.
And people have said, “Aren’t you worried people are gonna not wanna work with you because you’re not professional?” And I say that’s not an unfortunate side effect. That is a deliberate feature. If people don’t like that and they’re really offended by it or upset, we’re probably not gonna work together, and that’s fine. They’re not bad people, but we’re just not a good fit. So, that qualification element is really unique to this kind of style based on sense of humor. But on top of that, there are also different potential uses for this approach. So, I’ll give a few examples.
Previously, one of my clients was Hewlett Packard, which we won using the silly cold email, or at least it got us in the door. And the were doing an event, an all-day event, which was essentially an all-day sales pitch disguised as a seminar. They wanted senior IT directors or chief technology officers at national and international brands to come to one of their events. And I remember being in a meeting where they were going through the invite copy, the template, and they were debating things like, “Should we say ‘In tomorrow’s world’ or ‘In today’s world’?” and all of these inconsequential things.
And I said, “None of this matters. What you need to do is not sent a designed email, have it plain text as much as possible, and do it in this style, this informal style.” And amazingly, I got them to agree to it. When we had the event, they managed to get zero people for the event, and we filled it. So, even to IT directors who people often think they’re not gonna like humor, or finance directors, or some other title that people think are not gonna like humor, no, it works on them too.
Another use has been job interviews for my friend. I’ve done this actually multiple times where my friends that maybe they work in bar jobs or something else, they wanna find a new career, I’ve done this before where I’ve helped them get jobs in the marketing world, helped them with the research, written a really funny opening cold email, and they’ve booked loads of opportunities for job interviews – not job interviews, but informal opportunities that turned into jobs.
You can use it to get journalists to reply to you and cover your clients. So, when we won Symantec, our first gigantic client, we had to get PR coverage for them. We used the same style to contact journalists. I remember actually that when we worked with Symantec on the first project, we had to impress them because they said, “If you don’t impress, we’re gonna get rid of you after a quarter.”
They didn’t get any coverage for the content that we’d created, so I went – because that was their job to take care of the PR – we had to do as much as possible we could to support, so I went into the office on a Saturday, sent an email through the editor [inaudible] [00:16:43] at the time, Dillon Tweeny, and I got coverage for them that day and in several other publications. And he actually messaged me on Skype a few years later, and I got chatting to him, and he said he was talking to a group of startup founders in San Francisco because he does consultancy now and he told them about my pitch, which was four years or five years since I sent it, and he’s still talking about it.
And loads of other people have told about me. They said they’re still talking about that email five years later, six years later. And obviously, another use of that template, it gets you onto big podcasts such as this one.
JLD: Boom. I mean, Fire Nation, as you can see, there are a lot – and I mean a lot – of uses for charming copy. So, it is well worth your time to put in the time, put in the energy, just put in the mental resources to get your skillset up to charming copy level. And one thing that I’ve definitely seen, Jon, over and over again is that fancy job titles intimidates a lot of people. I mean, they just do. People are just like, oh, my God, look at all those letters, and numbers, and acronyms, and symbols in front of that person’s name or after that person’s name, but you look at fancy job titles a little differently. So, share your insights with Fire Nation.
Jon: This is an interesting one. I think people put people with very senior job titles on a pedestal, and I think partly, that is out of respect, and that’s fine. But respect shouldn’t come at the sake of your personality. And you also need to stop being what I’ve called “job titlist”. People that are finance directors and IT directors, they’re not these humorless people. Everyone’s got a type of person, a job title they think, “Oh, they’re not gonna like humor.” Nobody becomes the CEO of, say, Red Bull and then says, “You know what? I don’t like to laugh anymore. That’s what I did before I was successful.” That has never been said.
So, you need to remember that these are still people. They like silly movies. They’ve probably got some silly drunk stories. They’ve probably got embarrassing guilty-pleasure music that they listen to. So, when you’re writing to people, these are the people you’re writing to. Don’t just write to the fancy job title. You write to the person behind it, and often, most people are decent, nice people that would like to help someone that’s ambitious. And often, when you send messages in this style, they reply in this informal tone, and you’ll see very quickly, oh, it doesn’t matter how big the company is. The principle’s the same.
If you’re competent and you’ve got a skill, you can will deals with big companies and small companies no matter how senior. And I’m proof of that. When we won Symantec, we had no clients anywhere near the size of Symantec. We had no case studies for the work that we were trying to do, what we wanted to do for them, yet we were able to pull it off with enough enthusiasm. We impressed with the first approach, and then we led with enthusiasm and passion and just showed our knowledge [inaudible] [00:19:37] in which we wanted it, and we were able to win it.
So, you just need to give it a shot because I could’ve been nervous about sending you an email trying to get onto the podcast, but I’m very glad that I took that chance. So, you gotta take the shot. Those people with fancy job titles at massive companies may be your dream clients, they’re still people, and you can get their attention by making them laugh.
Sometimes people don’t like that simple approach. We sometimes get hypnotized by complexity when we realize actually that one of the books that’s on your Top 15 list, How to Win Friends and Influence People, those principles still apply. It doesn’t matter the type of person. And yeah, you need to give it a shot. I would say to anyone listening to this now, give it a shot emailing some of your dream clients. You never know who will reply.
JLD: Fire Nation, write to the people behind their fancy job title because, guess what, that’s what they are – they are people. And we have some incredible stuff coming up after the break. We’re gonna be talking about the right words in the right order about persuasive tactics to close more deals, about using Charm Offensive Tactics, Fire Nation, and so much more when we get back from thanking our sponsor. So, Jon, we’re back, and as promised, I wanna dive into the right words in the right order, and you have a specific strategy and a specific tactic for this. Break it down for us.
Jon: So, I always say that the right words in the right order to the right people can get you almost anywhere in life, but there’s a variable missing from that, which is the right time. There is obviously many ways of finding people at the right time, but I found a very easy way using LinkedIn and LinkedIn’s premium option LinkedIn Sales Navigator. With LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you can search for people using all of the normal search filters, such as job title, location, keywords, all of that kind of stuff, but there’s a really important search filter – it’s pretty much the reason I buy the subscription – which is time in role.
So, you can find people that, say, are marketing directors, but they’ve moved roles in the last 90 days. That means they’ve either been promoted or they’ve changed jobs. Those people are more likely to wanna hear from new talent and hear new ideas than people who’ve been at the company for years. Obviously, not all the time, but I’ve always found that this worked. If I contact people when they’ve just had a career change, that is a trigger moment where you should try and get in front of them. And combined with things like keyword search where you can type in very specific keywords to further find your ideal client, those two things together, they’re super powerful.
But really, the most powerful thing is that “less than 90 days” search tag, especially if you use the job title “founder” and then put “less than 90 days”. Essentially, that is a list of startup founders that you can contact, and you can sort them by sector and loads of other ways. So, that one search filter, it’s incredibly valuable.
JLD: The right words in the right order to the right people at the right time, and you just heard Jon drop LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and specifically people who moved roles in the last 90 days. I mean, that one tactic, Fire Nation, is gold, and I literally have 9 Ds, which is why I strung it out there in my notes when you were talking about that because I was like, “That is unbelievable,” Fire Nation. I hope there’s some of you right now that are like, “Holy crap, that is literally going to change who I reach out to for the next who knows how long,” because that is an amazing tactic, such a value bomb.
And let’s talk right now, Jon, about an archaic piece of technology to actually reach the most sought after prospects. And what I love about this, I have no idea what it’s gonna be, but I love the archaic pieces of technology because they’re so often overlooked. So, break it down for us.
Jon: When I found that my cold email, my drunk cold email, was so successful, I wanted to increase its effectiveness. I was getting, like, 40% open rates, but I wanted to be more effective. Instead of thinking, “Why don’t I send a follow-up sequence,” for some reason I just didn’t think about that, I thought what I can do is – because the original email, it has a very silly sticker attached, the ferret with bunny ears – I thought I’ll send that as a sticker. I’ll send a letter in the post with that sticker, and then I will send a follow-up message a few days later with the subject line, “Sorry for the ferret in the post,” and it worked really well – 80% open rates on that follow-up email.
And obviously, you don’t have to be that absurd. It does really work, but if you wanna do something that maybe is a bit classier and less silly, here’s what I’d recommend: send a handwritten letter. Now, don’t worry if you’ve got writing like me which is illegible. There are companies in the U.S., and the U.K., and Canada that allows you to outsource this, and you can even choose your handwriting. So, what I would say is send a handwritten letter, have it use charming copy and be disarming, and then a few days later, you send a follow-up message that mentions the handwritten letter in the subject line.
If you wanna include some silly gift in there as well, you can do that, but it’s really impressive because when was the last time you got a letter, let alone a handwritten letter, let alone a phony handwritten letter from a company that has something that could possibly help you? You can imagine how persuasive that is. And even if they forget to reply to your letter because they’re not at a computer, they can’t click on another email, they can’t click on another tab though you’ve got their attention, the follow-up email will get their attention because they’ll know, “Oh, handwritten letter. I instantly know who that is.”
I have found that to be such an effective technique, and people really, really like it because there’s something about that little dopamine hit you get from getting a letter in the post, especially a handwritten letter. It’s inherently charming.
JLD: I was actually watching the movie yesterday, Pearl Harbor, which came out in 2001, but of course it was about World War II, and there was so many scenes in that movie where people were getting handwritten letters, and they were opening it up. I was like, “Oh, my God. Remember people used to send handwritten letters to each other? It never happens anymore.” But I mean, Fire Nation, let me ask you this question, when’s the last time that you – you – have received a handwritten letter with your name handwritten on the “to” part of that envelope that you haven’t opened it?
And the answer is probably never because you’ve always opened that letter, that handwritten letter, and I’ve gotten a lot from you, Fire Nation, and every single one that comes to me that is handwritten, I am opening. And just like Jon said, I get that dopamine hit. It’s so, so true. Now, Jon, let’s talk about specific persuasive tactics to close more deals because we’re Fire Nation, we’re entrepreneurs, we wanna close more deals. What are the persuasive tactics you’ve found work best?
Jon: Awesome. Well, I’m gonna give three. There are loads of these that have built up over the years of working with salespeople, and just building up a level of experience. So, what I’m gonna talk about, three specific ones. The first one is enthusiasm, which is the most cost effective cosmetic available. This is what helped us beat much bigger agencies. They may have had fancier offices, and extensively better case studies, and budgets to take them to fancy lunches, but we went in with pure enthusiasm that I don’t think could be replicated.
And if you do this, it can take you anywhere. If it’s genuine, it is intoxicating, especially as you’re enthusiastic about them doing well, that is a really persuasive little – it seems obvious, but if you show your natural enthusiasm, that can defeat any weapon that your competitor has got no matter how big they are. It’s a great leveler. So, that’s No. 1. No. 2, this is an interesting one is take a junior with you to sales pitches. I remember when I first started doing sales, I was the geeky consultant that they would take along, so there’d be a business development manager or there’d be the CEO or director, and there’d be me. They did the pitchy stuff, I would do the meat, “Here’s what we’re gonna do.”
And I would go through it really enthusiastically, and we would close loads of deals. Started my own agency, had obviously sent that email, got all of these meetings, was closing deals, but I realized I’m not closing as many as I used to. And I thought about it, I thought, “Ah, I wonder –” I started taking some of the junior members of the team with me, and we started closing more deals. And I started to realize that even though I was enthusiastic, I was the company owner, so they kind of know that I stand to gain financially if I win this deal.
So, it’s kind of like my love of the craft, even though I’ve shown it, is somewhat sullied by the financial incentive – they know it’s there – whereas a junior member of staff, their life, if anything, gets harder.
JLD: Right, it’s more work.
Jon: Yeah, indeed. When they show that they’re really enthusiastic about this pitch, it’s seen as the love of the craft and that’s more persuasive. And then finally, I didn’t realize this was persuasive until recently is someone in my Charm Offensive Facebook group posted a ad up – they asked me first – about doing Instagram ad consultancy to people for free in exchange for a case study. And when she posted it, it was all about, “I’ll get you great results,” duh, duh, duh. I got into a conversation with her, and she said, “I just want a damn case study.” She’s really ambitious, wants to get it, I was like, “Why don’t you put that in the pitch?”
And I remember I used to do that when I went to sales meetings. I would say, “I want results just as much as you,” and I can’t say to you that I care about your business as much as you or know as much about it – there’s no way. But as far as the results, absolutely, because I’m gonna use this case study to get additional clients and to grow, so I have as much in this as you. And this is really persuasive because as much as you can show love of the craft, you can show you’re a nice person, you can show your authority, but there’s something persuasive about you talking about something that’s self-interested as long as that aligns with the prospect’s goals.
So, if you’re self-interest wants in that case study, that matches up with he wants to get great results for us, not just because he wants to help us but for his own self-interest. There’s something really persuasive about that, and I’ve got customers of mine that have started using it, and they’ve said it’s been very effective not only for when you want to just win deals for money, but if you’re just starting out and you just wanna get case studies, this is really good because it deals with that objection, “How do I know you’re gonna work hard?” So, those are three little different tactics. I’ve got loads more of these that I’ve build up over my career, but I thought you’d like those little persuasive snippets there.
JLD: Yeah, those snippets were again, Fire Nation, gold. So, hey, what’s the beauty of podcast? You can press pause, you can take notes, you can go back, you can listen to this again because so much value’s coming through. So, Jon, let’s talk about Charm Offensive Tactics for getting PR coverage. Break that down for us.
Jon: On a simple level, you can just use the same style of email to email journalists and get them to respond to you. But you can go a step further, which is you tap into the mischievous nature of the internet.
So, Brew Dog is a company in the U.K., international there. They sell craft beer. There was a product they launched, and I think it was, like 40-50% – it was the strongest beer in the world at the time, and it got all of this negative publicity from the tabloids. I think a question was even asked in Parliament about this dreadful drink that’s gonna get people to binge drink when really it was a drink for connoisseurs. It wasn’t something that anyone was gonna binge with. In retaliation to all of this furor, Brew Dog released a one percent beer called Nanny State, and that got all of this massive PR coverage. So, there’s an example of being daring and reactive and getting coverage.
I did something like this myself where I had a client, and they were in a really boring industry, service staffer space – no disrespect to people in the service staffer space industry – and they had to get links for SEO and PR coverage, so I wrote him just the most outrageously, brutally honest job advert I could, put it up on his blog, it didn’t look particularly nice, contacted some journalists using the charming style, boom, it got some stories about him and some coverage and some links to help his SEO.
Now, granted, with him, I had full creative control, so I could go pretty extreme with the copy, but it just goes to show you can create stories out of anything, and there’s a huge opportunity because consumer brands do this well. B-to-B brands don’t really do it that well, but anyone can do this. If you can create an interesting story, you can get massive PR coverage that would cost you thousands in advertising or more if you were to try and pay for it. It’s all about creating something that is a story, and that can be as simple as a crazy job advert or some kind of product that just is crazy, a sort of gag product that you’ve launched. There’s loads of these tactics that you can use.
On top of that, there’s another tactic I use to improve the chances that any content marketing or a PR campaign that I’m creating will work. That is pre-marketing. So, instead of just creating a campaign and then blasting it to journalists when it’s created, we ask them early on, we tell them our ideas and say, “Do you think this is a good idea? Would you publish this?” Obviously, a little bit more charming than that, and generally, you’ll get responses back, and if you get enough yeses, you create the big piece of content, whatever it might be, the infographic, video, whatever it might be. Only then do you create it.
This is just such an efficient way of doing that kind of stuff because you don’t waste money creating stories or content that’s not gonna get published. So, there’s a few tactics that you can use to get PR coverage and the more mischievous you can get, the better most likely.
JLD: And, Fire Nation, this is what I love about this episode is you’re getting tactics, multiple, because you don’t know for sure what’s going to work, so you need to test, you need to get feedback, you need to adjust, and pivot, and try something new, and try something new, and then when something hits, then you go all in and you amplify that. So, that’s why I love all these different tactics, and tools, and tips that Jon’s breaking down for us.
And Jon, you specifically over the last 18 months have used these specific Charming Tactics that we’ve been talking about to build an audience at scale, and you’ve created your very own niche in the process, which is what really excited me to chat with you here today. So, you have a pretty irresistible offer for Fire Nation, so kind of talk about those last 18 months, how you’ve created that audience, and the scale, and what this irresistible offer is for Fire Nation. Bring it home for us.
Jon: Fantastic. So, it was March last year, I got myself out of a bad situation. I was very depressed. I had a dark few years, and I had some momentum because I got myself out of this situation, and I started the Charm Offensive group on a whim. For years, I was terrified of people seeing my – when people used to put my letters on Twitter, I was like, “No, people are gonna find out.” Like, this is my magic trick. I don’t want anyone to know. And then something happened where I was like, “No, I think I need to tell the world this stuff because it’s really helpful. People could really benefit.”
Even if you don’t have a smartphone, you’ve got a pen and paper. If you can get prospects’ addresses, you can open opportunities for yourself. So, on a whim, I started the Facebook group. People were really curious of the screenshots because it’s like, cold emails are not meant to get responses like this. People tend to hate cold emails. They’re not meant to be giving you these gushing compliments. And this made me feel great.
I started helping people one-to-one. If they posted they were struggling or they posted they wanted more clients, in that first month, I would help them one-to-one for free. I would give them advice. I would send them my e-book that they usually have to pay for for free, and then those people started getting results, and then they started posting them in the group because it didn’t look like bragging. It was more they were excited, and it inspired other people to give this stuff a go.
And now, I’ve got this constant stream of social proof, so I don’t really have to be hype-y because if you go on my group, you can click one of the tags, which is people saying nice things about me, and it’s literally you just scroll forever of people going, “Yup, it worked. I got these screenshots. I won a new client. It’s worked for this.” It feels amazing because I get to enjoy the [inaudible] [00:35:35] of seeing those responses, but I don’t have to take any of the clients on, so I get self-aggrandizing cake, and I get to eat it too. So, I’ve been doing this for the last year and a half, and it just resonates. Like, within 30-days, we’re at 1,000 members.
And then I started inviting myself onto podcasts like the Kevin Rogers podcast, Michael Senoff show, and others, and I’ve been growing incrementally since then. I’ll be honest, I’ve been loving it. I have never loved a job as much as this. Just when I check my inbox, and I see people saying, “I’ve got all of these meetings with these big brands,” with PepsiCo, with startups that people love, it feels so good. It might sound like I’m being hyperbolic, I promise I’m not.
And appearing on this podcast is really the most exciting part of my career, I’ll be completely honest, because I’ve been doing all this incremental stuff, and I realized I’ve gotta take another big leap. I’ve gotta take my own advice, and I did that with a cold pitch, which was to you. And I got a reply from you, and it might change my life depending on how I’m coming across right now –
JLD: Fire Nation, how is he coming across? Let him know.
Jon: It could be an amazing opportunity, and I’m gonna capitalize thus on this in two ways, 1.) To say thank you. I’m gonna get my audience to share this episode as much as possible. I don’t have an audience anywhere near the size of Fire Nation yet, but I’m gonna do my best to get it shared as much –
JLD: Small and mighty. I mean, that’s where it’s at these days, Jon, so I’m excited. Thank you for that.
Jon: Even if I don’t make a dent in your figures, I just wanna show the gesture. I’m gonna try because it might make you think that having me again in the future might not be a bad idea.
JLD: That’s true. That’s true. I had Kevin back on because of that for sure.
Jon: Fantastic. And on top of that, I’m gonna create an absolutely outrageous offer to Fire Nation – well, two. One is with my blatant bribe of awesome goodies to get you to hand over your email address, so I’ve created a new packet just for the purposes of persuading Fire Nation to sign up to my email list. So, you can get your hands on my – and I’ve called it my “Jon’s Big Fire Nation Moment Goody Bag”, which contains a copy of the cold email template I used to get on this podcast, although I suspect that template might not work again on you.
You get a copy of the original drunk email template that led to meetings with Hewlett Packard, Symantec, Red Bull, Barclay’s, and countless other global brands, plucky startups and hardworking SMEs. You get my magic email cheat sheet, which runs through the core principles of creating Charm Offensive style cold pitches. It covers more than just cold emails. These tactics work for any kind of outbound cold pitch. You get my e-book, How to Be Somewhat Funny. This teaches you joke formulas, rhetorical devices, and other writing exercises to help you become a more entertaining copywriter.
Stop Selling Time, which is my e-book about how to create your own niche, enabling you to sell your expertise at time. And a mega super bonus, you get a warm, fuzzy feeling for opting into my list, making my numbers go up, and feeding my obsession, which I value at priceless. And I regularly go get too excited and give way too much free to my email list because I just can’t really help myself. On top of that, if you want that, you go to Charm-Offensive.co.uk/fire – that’s Charm-Offensive – O-F-F-E-N-S-I-V-E – .co.uk/fire, and you can get your hands on all of that stuff.
On top of that, I am launching a new coaching service where I’ve got all of these great courses, and these great materials, and these great templates. I now wanna work with a select amount of people and work with them one-to-one to get them the results they want. So, I wanna show them how to create their pitch to the world, how to start conversations with their ideal clients using direct mail, cold email, even Facebook ads and other methods – the channel doesn’t matter, it’s about how to stand out – how to build their influence using cold pitching to get on podcasts, to get journalists to reply to them, to book speaking engagements, to start their own Facebook group and grow their own tribe.
And then the final module is called Conversations to Cash, which is all about how to [inaudible] [00:39:44] go from that response, how do you follow up, how do you do a good sales call or a good sales meeting, how do you do a perfect proposal that’s gonna help you close that deal because as you’ve said, it’s all well and good being able to open deals, but you’ve gotta be able to close them too. If you wanna check that out, go to Charm-Offensive.co.uk/win. Charm-Offensive.co.uk/win. So, those are the two. If you would like the opt-in, go to Charm-Offensive.co.uk/ – oh, God, I forgot it there.
Jon: Forward slash fire. Charm-Offensive.co.uk/fire, and you get all of that free stuff. If you’re interested in my super cool one-to-one coaching, go to Charm-Offensive.co.uk/win.
JLD: Cool. You just rocked through that, but now you keep going fast through that last part, so I know it’s Charm-Offensive.co.uk/win and the same thing, Fire Nation, Charm-Offensive.co.uk/fire. And I’m gonna break it down right now. I mean, Fire Nation, if you don’t at least go to that “/fire”, you’ve gotta check your pulse because that bag of fire goodies is through the roof. I mean, this is why you listen to the end of the episode is because you get these unbelievable, free, amazing value goody bags, and this is just next level.
So, get on over there, and then the “/win”, it’s the exact same URL, but the “/win” is gonna give you more information about maybe working one-on-one with Jon, which by the way, Fire Nation, he is exactly where a lot of you wanna be. Eighteen months ago, he was down in the dumps. Now, he’s rocking Entrepreneurs on Fire, other great podcasts, he’s building communities, he’s in touch with a lot of great people, he has a team, he’s adding value. So, believe me, this is a person who could potentially be where you want to be, Fire Nation, looking ahead in the future, so explore that option as well.
And Jon, break it down for us, what’s one way you wanna end this episode? Give us one piece of value, and then add anything else you wanna add at the end here.
Jon: I’d like to end on – it might sound a bit like a pep talk – but just to reiterate, go for it. Try and email some of your dream clients. Email some podcasts that you really wanna go on. If you do a few things each week where you try and take a big leap, one of them will pay off, and if you need an example of that, I am on this podcast, and this has been a goal of mine for a while, and I’ve achieved it.
And obviously, it’s not all about that one email. I had to have an offering, I had to give value, I had to have a story, I had to have something interesting to have you have me on the podcast, but equally, if I hadn’t of taken that shot, I wouldn’t have had this chance, and I have a feeling that hopefully this is gonna go very well. And thank you so much for having me on, John. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.
JLD: Well, it was my pleasure because my heart is warmed when my guests share unbelievable value on the episode, and that’s what you did here today, Jon. You dropped so many great value bombs. You gave some real specific tactics. Again, that one that I put 9 Ds at the end of gold, I mean, that was unbelievable, so Fire Nation, I hope you were taking notes. I hope you got as much value as I know that I did as a listener because I was listening as well, taking notes for sure.
And you know this, Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and you’ve been hanging out with JB and JLD today, so keep up the heat and head over to EOFire.com and type Jon, J-O-N. And that’s no H, Jon, J-O-N, in the search bar, and his show notes page is gonna pop up. And by the way, I know that we gave a lot of dashes, and .co’s, and .uk’s in there, but we’re gonna link it all up right on the show notes page for both of the “/fire” and “/win”, so definitely check that out, Fire Nation, because all the links, everything we’ve been talking about today is going to be on the show notes page.
And, Jon, I just wanna say thank you for sharing your truth with Fire Nation today. For that, brother, we salute you, and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Jon: Thank you very much.
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