Somewhere in New York, nestled amongst the Manhattan skyline, there is a skyscraper.
And in that skyscraper, there is an office.
And in that office, there is an email marketer.
And that email marketer is COMPLETELY OUT OF IDEAS.
Why do I say that?
Because several weeks ago, I created a free ‘trial’ account on the New York Times website.
I got to read an article for free. And in exchange, I gave them my email address, presumably so they could try and sell me a subscription.
A fair enough deal. I like me a good email pitch.
But a good email pitch is not what I got.
For lo and behold, the next five weeks’ worth of email subjects (clearly tailored to me as an Australian reader):
Week 1: “Commit to uncovering the truth. International readers subscribe for $1 a week.”
Week 2: “Commit to uncovering the truth. International readers get 4 weeks free, then pay $1 a week.”
Week 3: “Commit to uncovering the truth. International readers get 4 weeks free, then pay $1 a week.”
Week 4: “Readers in Australia subscribe for A$1 a week.”
Week 5: “Unparalleled coverage. Subscribe for A$1 a week.”
(You can just feel their spirits sagging as they realise it’s not working, can’t you?)
But maybe you’re cynical.
“Okay, wise guy,” you say. “Anyone can be a critic — but how would YOU do better?”
A foolish question, young Maurice.
Have you not yet realised what I would do?
I would try injecting some personality … and (gasp!) maybe even some HUMOUR.
“Psst, Australian. Got a deal for you. (Don’t tell any Americans)”
“The $1 deal on our newspaper that most New Yorkers will never see”
“If our non-Australian readers read this email, they’d kill us”
“A secret way to legally plunder New York’s biggest newspaper for $1”
Now, there’s no guarantees, of course.
But, I suspect that trying a bit of entertainment — like one of those subject lines which I cooked up in 30 seconds — would get far more international readers to click than the tomato-sauce sandwiches they’re serving up right now.
Of course, I doubt my idea would fly if I pitched it to ‘em.
Those New York bureaucrats in their New York accents would shoot it down in a New York minute:
“You want US to use yuu-mah? Are you outta your MIND? We got a brand to uphold! Fuhgettaboutit!”
And thus would I be fired from the Snooze York Times.
But that’s why I love being a freelance copywriter: I get to choose the clients I work with … and invariably, they are the ones who listen to my wise advice, and aren’t afraid to have a bit of FUN in their copy.
Do that, and you can still get away with pitching the same offer every week.
Or even every day, like I’m doing right now:
(Oh, come on. If you don’t yet know what I’ve been pitching recently, you’re not trying hard enough …)