Your Format is More Important than your Message
Like many of you probably relate to all too well, the first thing I need to do when I check email each day is sort through the important emails and weed out the crap marketing and spam that my filter didn't catch. More and more these days, there's a lot of it. From Nigerian Princes to company's with a system to net LO's 20+ deals/month! (if they figured that out, why aren't they LO's?), I get all sorts of crap. I also occassionally get legitimate marketing emails from companies that may have something useful to me, and for this reason, I give everything at least a glance unless it's obvious spam.
Today, it dawned on me that I pay just as much attention, if not more, to the format of an email and how a template is put together and executed as I do the message within the email. Let me 'splain. If I received a marketing email from a name and a URL I didn't recognize that said something along the lines of "Hey John, I just checked out your AR and LinkedIn profiles and visited your website, and my company has a few marketing tools that I think you might find interesting, is there a good time I could catch you for a few minutes to explain?" that person would likely get a positive response, a warm lead, and 5 minutes of my time.
That's a solid template & format - short, sweet, shows they did their research, and has me wondering "what about me and what's in my profile makes them think they're a good fit?". Now let's look at perhaps a better, or at least more "put together" email from a url I recognize - today's example? Trulia. First of all, THANK YOU Trulia for thinking since AR is now under your umbrella, AR members will be dying to take advantage of all the marketing "opportunities" you offer (sarcasm font).
This email from a Trulia 'Team Lead -StrategicAccounts' started off great - I recognized the Trulia URL and know they are obviously an ok company when it comes to marketing (after all, I've heard of em). When did they lose me? The part where they explain "Costa Mesa (92627) one of the hottest markets in all of Texas right now, just opened up on Trulia Mobile Ads!" HUH? Costa Mesa? Texas? 1) Costa Mesa is in California, 2) I'm not licensed in Texas yet so I don't care how hot the market is, my license would be revoked if I advertised there. Was this a simple slip up? Sure. Is it obvious they're just copying/pasting and plugging in zip codes and states for their ad pieces? Yep. Why is it a big deal? It shows they're careless. It shows they don't proofread. It shows my business is not really worth the 10 seconds it would have taken them to make sure their template was correct. It shows they have no interest in me or my business - they're simply throwing crap against the wall and hoping something sticks.
How bout another one?
"Dear Realtor" the email began. And for me, ended. No idea what they were selling, or promoting. No idea if their product could benefit me, or would benefit the agents I work with. If you're pitching me and don't even know what I do, you've lost me. Your format sucks, I no longer care if your message is decent. Again, throwing crap against the wall to see what sticks.
Maybe it's just me? Maybe my gnat-sized attention span just can't overlook this kind of stuff, but it's the same when I'm reading blogs, columns, or articles - the format and template is vital. If it's 1000 words with no pictures or white space, you've lost me. If it's 1000 words broken into sections with white space, and maybe a picture or 2, I'll probably at least start reading it.
In marketing, your results will be MUCH better if you not only craft a good message, but also make sure your templates and format are on point. Your message won't get across if no one wants to read it. In blogging, you'll get a lot more comments and views if you have a clean template and it "looks pretty". When it comes to writing - whether marketing or any other avenue that requires the written word - your message may be amazing, but it'll never get read if your format or template are terrible. And for that reason, your format is more important than your message.