Introduction: Rob Drummond is a fellow Keap Certified Partner and an excellent copywriter. He helps coaches, consultants and educators do a better job at telling their own stories so their marketing connects with their audience. I’m thrilled he’s offered to put together this great article for you. You can learn more on his website: www.magneticexpertise.com
Clients often ask me what type of email content they should send to their new email subscriber (or even a re-engaged subscriber).
You only have one shot at building the relationship here. If you fail to utilize this important moment with your audience, you risk the chance of losing their attention forever.
There are of course a thousand things you could send, so you first need to analyse what you know about the audience. What did they opt-in for? What are they interested in? In most cases, I suggest you send what I call your ‘core story sequence’…
Your core story is the line of events that led to your current expertise and line of work. It includes the challenges you’ve faced, and the mistakes you’ve made.
Once you have someone’s attention, your core story is engaging to people because it lets them know the real you. They see their own struggles reflected in yours. If they’re an ideal client, they’ll probably see themselves as somewhere along the same journey. You tell your story to make yourself accessible and real.
The tricky thing about telling your story is deciding what to include, and what to leave out. We all lack perspective on our own lives. Because there are thousands of things you could include, it is helpful to work from a framework.
The framework I use with my clients is called the plot archetype structure, and covers five phases:
The vertical axis indicates the flow of good and bad things happening in the story. The horizontal axis indicates the passing of time. Many movies will start in the middle of the drama, but I suggest you initially tell your story chronologically.
Phase 1 is ‘the call’. There’s a slight ‘down’ in the story here, because something happens that means a change is necessary. In The Lord of the Rings, dark riders arrive in the Shire. It is no longer possible for the Hobbits to continue living peacefully.
In your story, the call could have been a new baby, or a change in circumstances. Perhaps you were bored in your job. Perhaps you met someone inspiring.
Phase 2 is the ‘dream phase’. For a while things go well, but often the character is behaving in a deceptive or immature way. Aladdin makes good progress by showing up as Prince Ali. But as the Genie reminds him, he isn’t yet beeeeeing himself.
Phase 3 is the frustration phase. One or more setbacks occur. The character must do some soul searching in order to make progress. Often a wise mentor or guide will appear. Luke Skywalker spends time with Yoda. The guide or mentor will often represent the qualities or traits our hero is missing.
Phase 4 is the culmination, realisation, or final battle. Even in a comedy plot, where the dark power in the story is a web of confusion, this moment still exists. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy finally see each other for who they really are.
Phase 5 is the resolution. Even in a tragedy plot where the main character will die in phase 4, we still have the resolution. In Macbeth, parity returns to the kingdom of Scotland. In some capacity we get our happy ending.
How this might look in your email series…
The benefit of this structure is it forces you to pick a deliberate path through your story.
To get going, you might want to keep things simple and make each email in the series a single plot phase. So email 1 becomes the call, where you were down on your luck, bored at work, or whatever the call was.
Email 2 is then initial progress. I made initial progress in my business as a Google Ads consultant, before realising that wasn’t the business I wanted to build.
Email 3 is the struggle. A time when the wheels well and truly fell off the bus. A time when your spouse gave you that long sideways glance, which screams “when are you going to get a real job?”
Email 4 is the the realisation, or the event of clarity. This could be a dramatic event, or a mundane one. It could be the time you went hiking in the Andes (or in the Pennines, or the streets of New York, or wherever), and found inspiration from a completely unexpected source.
Email 5 could be the resolution. The happy ending, leading into your offer. The offer at this point is fairly obvious: you invite the reader to join you on the journey. If the reader is at the ‘call’ phase in the story of their own life, then your offer will speak to them directly. Chances are, they’ll say yes.
The benefit of writing five emails in this particular format is it provides a structured framework for your story. The framework is a handy constraint. It’s easier to write an email when you know you need something that fits a particular plot phase. Like most things in life, we desire freedom but crave some comforting constraints within those bounds. The absolute freedom of the blank Word document can be too overwhelming.
While five emails is good as a starting point, I find it still doesn’t give you all that much space (unless you want to write very long 1000+ word emails). As each email you write should only contain one key thought or idea, I find it more effective to split the five phases across 15 or 20 emails. My own core story series has 18 emails.
A series of that length allows you to include multiple red herrings you followed… multiple low points you overcame. In an archetypal story the struggle phase (phase 3) is often the longest phase. You may wish to dedicate a handful of emails to it. Nothing lets people see the real you like telling them about your struggles.
Write about your struggles. Bleed a little. Show people your scars. That is what gets their attention the most, because they recognize their own struggles in yours.
I like to plan a 15-part email series because:
- It allows more space to tell your complete story-based in detail. It is the details people resonate with the most.
- A longer series encourages a regular reading habit for future emails. People get used to hearing from you.
- You have implementation choices. You can send an email a day for two weeks. You can send an email every weekday for three weeks. You can send an email every other day for a month. You can split test all of these options.
Putting in place a core story series then builds trust and lets your readers know the real you. By doing this you take people ‘off the market’ so when the need arises they only want to work with you.