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If You Want To Persuade, Get Out Of Email

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

In 2007, my wife and I were in Morocco.

A friend of a family we stayed with invited us to see his carpet store.

We were young and dumb, so we agreed.

You can guess what happened next.

First he showed us around the store. He explained the history of the store and the remarkable story of how some of the rugs ended up in his possession. Then he brought in tea and began asking us about our lives. He asked about the homes we lived in, the kind of rugs we bought (none), and noted what an amazing feeling it is to invite your parents to your first home.

Finally, he asked which of the rugs we liked the best and finally said…just for us…he could make a really good deal.

If we had the money (and could squeeze a big rug into small backpacks) we probably would have bought one.

Notice the persuasive elements in action. He had referred credibility from our friend, he was personally likable (showed interest in us/complimented us), he created a narrative around his store (which we could share with friends when we bought the rug), he made tea (reciprocity), and he provided options (which rug do you like the best?).

He was even smart enough to sit next to us instead of opposite us.

Now compare this with walking through the crowded, noisy, markets of Marrakech. Each vendor shouts loudly to make the sale.

Email is that crowded, noisy, marketplace. It is the most competitive place to persuade anyone of anything. If you’re trying to deal with detractors or convert newcomers into regulars using email alone, you’re going to face an uphill struggle.

If you want to persuade someone, get them out of email.

Use email to setup a call or organize a webinar. Invite people to meetup for a coffee.

As salespeople know well, it’s pointless to persuade anyone by email. 60% of the challenge is getting the meeting. The moment someone hears your voice they develop a stronger sense of empathy and liking towards you.

For coordination and simple tasks, email works well. But if you’re trying to persuade someone to do something, use any other medium. If you’re dealing with detractors, making a sale, trying to get someone to engage more frequently – email is the weakest method. The associations with spam, self-involved tasks, and the noisy marketplace are just too strong.

The best use for email is to get out of email.

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