When I returned from lunch yesterday, I was greeted by an email in my inbox from a creative vendor that we have not worked with, but that I have spoken with on the phone. The email started:

Dear Ira,

Thought I should check in with you to see how things are going and let you know we’re still here for you should the need arise.

Our…work continues to improve with great new tools. (He then describes these tools, software and hardware.)

If you have a few minutes, please check out our new work on our website.

Congrats on Tahoe’s continued success as one of the best innovators and producers in the industry.

I edited it a little to preserve the anonymity, but you get the idea. I probably get five of these emails a week, and this is one of the better written ones.

The gratuitous “Congrats on Tahoe’s continued success as one of the best innovators and producers in the industry” tells me that the sender doesn’t know anything about our business. Not sure what we are doing that is innovative, but it’s a throwaway line that fails.

I expect better from someone trying to sell me via email and, at the minimum, provide me with an explanation of why the 15 seconds I spent reading the email wasn’t a waste of my time.

In no particular order, here are my top five action items to build better self-promotion (regardless of your industry/sector).

  1. Tell a story. Your promotional material should simply tell a story. Preferably your story! Keep it simple, clear and concise. Use your story and combine with links to build a compelling message.
  2. No attachments! No one wants to deal with an email full of attachments in their inbox. Use hyperlinks, but more importantly, don’t assume I will to go to your website and “take a look”.
  3. Tell me WHY I should click on your link! Inspire me to learn about you. Entertain me or, even better, create compelling text that makes me feel like I’m missing out on the keys to the universe if I don’t click on your link.
  4. In this day and age, boring text emails are so blasé. Why not include some graphics to make your email pleasing to look at. And if a smile creeps on my face while reading it, even better.
  5. Test it! Never sit down and just send a promotion. Test the links, give it a spin around your team or friends, and make sure that any try at humor is actually funny.

Bonus Tip
The days of BCC promotional emails are long gone. I use Constant Contact and this allows for personalized HTML emails that go directly to the recipient’s inbox instead of their SPAM folder.

And of course my favorite: “Dear Ms. Gostin”…Really? Is your internet down?

Happy Promotions!