It’s 5:40pm last night, and I’m pretty excited.
I have dinner ready to go.
I call Hayley and the kids to the table.
We say grace, and then …
Now since having kids, Hayley and I don’t watch as much dinner-time anime as we used to.
Yet tonight I’m making an exception. Because my friend Steven has told me about this anime that I “had” to watch.
It’s called 約束のネバーランド (The Promised Neverland).
The only thing Steven would tell me is, “Trust me, you’ll love it — but don’t look up ANYTHING about it. Let it all be a surprise.”
Well, I trust his recommendations — and I like using anime to practice Japanese anyway — so that’s what I do.
I load it up without even reading a single episode preview.
Then I flick it on as we start eating …
… and we’re hooked.
It’s about these kids in a mysterious orphanage in the middle of a huge field — surrounded by a forest, and a fence in the forest they’re forbidden to cross.
What’s outside the fence?
Who are these kids?
Why do they all have numbers stamped on their necks?
We don’t know.
But something feels … off.
Well, in the first episode, the time comes for one of the young children to be adopted.
She says her goodbyes, and the “mother” walks her out to the distant gate in the fence.
But … she leaves behind her favourite toy.
So two of the other siblings run out to bring it to her.
They come to the gate and find a truck there, but nobody’s around.
Yet as they go to investigate, they hear voices.
They hide under the truck …
… AND THEN TWO GIANT FREAKIN’ MONSTERS COME OUT OF A DOOR AND PULL THE DEAD CORPSE OF THE KIDS’ LITTLE SISTER OUT OF THE TRUCK.
“Oh … oh,” says Hayley, her eyes going wide.
“Shoot,” I curse … fully aware that two little pairs of eyes are watching this disturbing scene.
I try to get Eli’s attention as I fumble with the remote. “Heeeey! Eli! Look over here!”
He keeps trying to move his head around to watch the screen.
Then finally, I find the ‘pause’ button … and stop it on a non-disturbing shot.
That was a close one.
After dinner I sent a message to Steven … “DUDE YOU COULD HAVE TOLD ME IT WASN’T APPROPRIATE FOR DINNER WITH KIDS.”
He replies: “OH SORRY”
(I can’t be too mad, though. After we put the kids to bed we binged that show … oh my gosh so good. Highly recommend.)
But you know what?
This kind of reaction is actually all-too-common in marketing.
If your audience isn’t prepared when you try to sell to them … it’s like a nightmarish monster appearing on the screen in front of little kids.
i.e. totally shocking, disturbing, unexpected, and repulsive.
And you will find your sales suffer the same fate as that poor little girl those monsters were about to devour.
This is why it’s important to sell often in your emails, and why I have a call-to-action in almost every single one.
I chuckle when people have to apologise to their lists for doing a sale … because they spend so much time trying to pretend they’re all about “sharing value for free”, and then wonder why their list feels angry when they realise it was all to butter them up.
Be genuine. Be honest. If you’re there to sell, sell from the start. Don’t bust out your horrible sales monster when your audience has no clue it’s coming.
And speaking of which:
I’ve got some fancy copywriting services on offer in this very email.
If you don’t, a giant monster will—actually, no, that’s too disturbing.
Nothing bad will happen except your copy will suck. (Which is quite possibly a worse fate.)