We Read This Crap So You Don’t Have To: “Bad News” E-mails

October 13, 2011

There’s an interesting blog on the AWeber site by Danny Iny titled “Can ‘Bad News’ Lift Response Rates?” You know: The subject lines in e-mails that announce “Bad News.” Iny suggests that it meets three criteria for effective headlines:

  • It’s question-based, rather than answer-based.
  • It’s problem-based, not solution-based.
  • It evokes curiosity.

But Iny notes that the technique doesn’t always work, and that there are two major problems with “bad news” subject lines:

  • No context: You might receive bad news from family, friends, business partners, or clients. There’s already care, concern, and a relationship. You don’t care about e-mail marketers, you con’t care enough about them for any news to be particularly bad.
  • Destroys credibility and trust: You run the risk that your audience will stop trusting you. Often the audience will feel (correctly) that either you’re manipulating them or you’re lying to them.

Iny says he’s used “bad news” twice in his career. It failed once and worked once. He’s planning on using it a third time. He advices: “Use with care.” Iny argues that “Bad News” subject lines can work if you’ve built up a solid relationship with your audience, provided lots of value, and that you actually have news to share that could be legitimately seen as bad.

Yeah. Right. And marketers who share legitimately bad news occurs about as often as pigs flying.

We read this “Bad News” crap so you don’t have to. Here are some excerpts from just a few recent offenders:

Lots of Bad News today: 1st Warning: Closing down in 8 hours

#1 I just spoke to Nate again. There’s good news and bad news. Good news is Nate has about 10 – 15 spots open for his MONEY MATRIX PLATFORM which funds and sells your properties for you to his buyers.

#2 I also just spoke with George and Gary. Today is also the very last day to watch the webinar training I did with George about “The Bankers Code” Way To Building Passive Wealth Thru Private Lending.

Josh Cantwell



This is an urgent update for my long time subscribers only.
Please read the entire email carefully as it is time sensitive.

We ALMOST had to deliver you some bad news, but it looks like we had a small (but high impact) miracle occur that you need to know about now. [Comment: I wonder if Larry did an A/B test with the headline “It’s A Miracle!”]
You want to do more deals and create more freedom right? Keep reading…
You ALMOST lost your chance at free VIP passes to an exclusive event where deal makers are born. It happens only once a year and is invite only.
Bad news is there’s only 10-15 spots open and he’s closing down as soon as they are filled so YOU HAVE TO GO NOW to get a spot in the Money Matrix. If a complete wealth building platform is what you have been looking for then here you go

Larry Goins


Bad News.

If you have a 401K that is now a 201K, believe it or not, you can still safely earn above-average double-digit
in this market. How you ask?

By being, “the bank.”

Too good to be true? Think again.

Now, while this might sound a little strange right now, let me assure you that many folks just like you
across the US, are self-directing their investment dollars into things like, real estate, or small businesses etc., and they are earning very high returns.

Craig Fuhr

[Comment: I couldn’t find even a whiff of bad news in this one.]


Good News, Bad News . . .

Over the past three days I’ve shared a short video presentation about the most valuable skill any entrepreneur, business owner, or marketer can possess.  Today I’ll share some good news and some bad news.

First some bad news.  It took me 10 years to develop and hone the skill of creating copy that sells.  10 years of studying and testing to figure out what works (and what doesn’t work). [Comment: That’s the bad news? That it only took you 10 years to become a copywriting expert, and a very, very highly-paid one at that? I’d have thought the bad news was the decades you spent selling suits before you moved into marketing.]

The good news is that you don’t need to spend a decade of hassle and frustration wasting your time and money figuring out what works.  I’ve already done that for you and I’ve created a “step-by-step” system that removes all the guesswork, waste, and frustration out of “Creating Copy That Sells” Once and For All so you can be creating profitable marketing campaigns FASTER than you imagined possible.

All you have to do is click on the link below to watch this short video presentation:


More Bad News…this video will be removed at MIDNIGHT EST on Monday night so I recommend you watch it NOW.

Dedicated to Creating Copy That Sells,

Bill Glazer


All “bad news” e-mails are crap. I don’t think I’ve ever received a legitimate one. Even ones with “Only 4 slots remaining” isn’t bad news . . . except for the promoter who hasn’t yet filled up the program.

As I said, those are only a few samples of the muck that gums up my in-box. As for Iny’s blog, the only criterion a marketer should use when deciding whether to put “Bad News” in the subject line is: Is it really bad news? Truly bad news? Honestly bad news? If it isn’t, don’t use it.


6 Tips To Help Your Business From “Talk Like A Pirate Day” (September 19)

September 14, 2010

Talk Like A Pirate Day: Sept. 19

It’s almost here–the annual “Talk Like a Pirate Day.” Mark your calendars for September 19. But it’s not just a day for having fun (see below), but even for picking up a few useful tips.

OK. So what is “Talk Like a Pirate Day“? From Wikipedia:

International Talk Like a Pirate Day (ITLAPD) is a parodic holiday created in 1996 by John Baur (Ol’ Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap’n Slappy), of Albany, Oregon, U.S., who proclaimed September 19 each year as the day when everyone in the world should talk like a pirate. For example, an observer of this holiday would greet friends not with “Hello,” but with “Ahoy, matey!” The holiday, and its observance, springs from a romanticized view of the Golden Age of Piracy. The holiday is a major observance in the religion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The official site, with lots of links, is at http://www.talklikeapirate.com/ You can see how people celebrated in the past–parties, get-togethers, and more. And I particularly like the sites that will translate text–or even full web sites–to “pirate speak.” See this one: Translate-Pirate.com To see what the White House web site looks like as spoken by a pirate, click here. (No, no one is accusing President Obama of being a secret pirate!)

Enough fun and games. Well, maybe not. But, still, is there anything to be learned from Talk Like a Pirate Day? Absolutely. Things that you can use to help get more clients and more business. (Some of these were written with Realtors in mind, but they’re all applicable to anyone wanting to improve their business.) And a few other tips, besides.

Keep the Calendar in Mind: Why is September 19 Talk Like a Pirate Day? The day was actually triggered when one of the co-founders injured himself on June 6, 1995, and yelled “Aaarrr.” When they decided to “spread the word,” they recognized that June 6 was D-Day. Out of respect, they chose another date. So: Look at the calendar. And in addition to the observances you’re aware of, be sensitive to observances of other religions and other cultures before scheduling an event. If you’re doing a mailing, you may want to time it so you’re not competing with lots of other mail.

Make it Easy to Remember: So, why September 19, and not the 18th or the 20th? It turns out that September 19 was the birthday of an ex-wife of one of the founders. That was easy for him to remember. The same lesson applies here, from the way you brand yourself to the name of your web site. In this case, the point is to make it easy for customers and clients to remember you . . . and how to contact you.

Learn How to Publicize Your Activities. How did Talk Like a Pirate Day catch on? The event’s founders sent a letter to humorist Dave Barry in 2002. Barry liked the idea and promoted it. The rest, as they say, is history. The take-away message here is that the media can help you. Just identify the right–the most appropriate–outlets and get the word out. If what you’re saying or publicizing has value, you may well receive beneficial coverage.

Do Good Deeds. Set up activities that benefit charities. Talk Like a Pirate has a section on its web site for such activities. It even has a nicely-done 8-step planning process. It says:

As everyone* knows by now, International Talk Like A Pirate Day is mostly about (wait for it) talking like a pirate.

But almost since the beginning, some fine folks have used the day as an excuse to raise money for good causes.

The Marie Curie Cancer Care team in the UK was first out o’ the gate, urging folks to organize piratical fund-raisers to support their efforts to provide research and end-of-life care for cancer patients. Others have joined in over th’ years to use ITLAPD as a way to raise money for everything from feedin’ the hungry to sponsoring local children’s programs.

This year, the Pirate Guys are urgin’ their fans around the world to use their Talk Like A Pirate Day parties to pass the pirate hat for a worthy cause, be it social, humanitarian, cultural or political.

Which cause? That’s up t’you. There be no end o’ good causes that could use an infusion o’ doubloons. Read on down for some ideas.

Cap’n Slappy has a soft spot in his black heart for Doctors Without Borders/Medicins Sans Frontieres, the international medical humanitarian organization that brings medical care to people all over the world in times of crisis. They even offer tips for making your fund-raiser a success – and an easy way for you to collect donations on line! Tell’em Cap’n Slappy sent you!

Give Something Away. Talk Like a Pirate has some downloadable ring-tones. (Who could resist “It’s still ringin’ ye scurvy dog!”)? Sure, you can do ring-tones. But offer on your web site free reports, or free information. Give consumers a reason to come to you, remember you, and do business with you.

Have Fun. I think that point’s already been made.

So, make plans for Talk Like a Pirate Day. But take away some tips that can help you on the other 364 days of the year as well.

A Really Dumb Marketing Promotion: Dung Beetles and Skunk Cabbage

September 9, 2009

There are all sorts of rules for marketing, whether by direct mail or e-mail. There should be a guarantee. (“Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back.”) There should be urgency. (“This offer expires in 48 hours.”) And so on.

Sometimes the marketing can include a suggestion of exclusivity. (“This offer isn’t for everyone–just those who want the best.” Or “We’re only making this offer to a select few.”)

One thing I haven’t seen–and I’m an avid reader of marketing advice from Glazer-Kennedy and a slew of others–is: Don’t deliberately insult the recipient. Nor have I seen: Don’t cast the product you’re marketing in a bad light.

Maybe we can learn something from the folks at eTapestry.com. That company’s latest e-mail promo compares its potential customers to dung beetles. But, hey, that’s not the end of it. It compares its own product to skunk cabbage.

Mutualism.  It’s what they call it when two things benefit each other.  And just like the dung beetle and skunk cabbage help each other out, so too do eTapestry’s fundraising software and your cause. 

eTapestry compares itself and its customers to dung beetles and skunk cabbage

eTapestry compares itself and its customers to dung beetles and skunk cabbage

I imagine it was an attempt at humor. Maybe.

(Now, I’ll admit that this marketing promotion didn’t have anything to do with real estate–the main topic of this blog. Still, those in real estate do a lot of marketing–direct mail, internet, paid advertising, and so on–so the takeway message is the same, even if you’re focused on real estate.)

Browsing around the Internet, I ended up at Wikipedia, which had a list of other forms of mutualism and symbiotic relationships. Among them:

  • Humans and intestinal bacteria
  • Leafhopper and meat ant
  • Acacia Ants (Pseudomyrmex ferruginea) with the Swollen Thorn Acacia Tree (Acacia cornigera)
  • Euprymna squid (family Sepiolidae) and bioluminescent bacteria (Vibrio fischeri)
  • Anglerfish and bioluminescent bacteria
  • Moray eels and cleaner shrimp or cleaner fish at cleaning stations
  • Goby fish and shrimp
  • Sea anemones and clownfish, crabs or shrimps
  • Deep-sea pompeii worms and thermophilic bacteria
  • Ruminants such as cows and their intestinal bacteria and protists
  • Oxpeckers and rhinoceroses
  • Aphids and Buchnera bacteria
  • Ambrosia Beetles and fungi
  • Sharks and remora
  • fig trees and Amazon fruit bats
  • mole salamanders and Oophila alga
  • Sea anemone and clownfish
  • Hawaiian Bobtail Squid and Vibrio fischeri

Few of those are particularly attractive images. Given a choice, I guess I’d be the shark to eTapestry’s remora. Or I’d be a rhinoceros to eTapestry’s oxpecker. Or a cow to eTapestry’s intestinal bacteria. But I don’t know whether I’d prefer being a leafhopper or a meat ant. Or a worm to bacteria.

Nor can I imagine this is the image eTapestry was trying to convey. Dung beetles? Skunk cabbage?

We Read This Crap So You Don’t Have To: Preston Ely for Dave Durell

June 16, 2009

Our trusty Crap-O-Meter has been flirting with a perfect “10” score for awhile. That is, a marketing pitch that’s not just misleading, not just over-the-top, but blatantly inaccurate. Well, friends, we’ve hit the jackpot. Today’s a solid “10.”

The pitch is by Preston (or Pre$ton as he sometimes signs his e-mails) Ely for an exercise and fitness program by Dave Durell. (Yes, this is a real estate blog, and the pitch has nothing to do with real estate. But what we rate here is the marketing, not the underlying product. And Preston promotes a lot of real estate products. Don’t get us wrong: Health and fitness are admirable goals and Durell’s product may very well be worth every penny. It’s the pitch we have problems with. Yes, here we’re “shooting the messenger,” not arguing with the message.)

OK. Here’s the pitch:

Preston Ely's Pitch for David Durell's Exercise Program

Preston Ely's Pitch for David Durell's Exercise Program

Preston begins by explaining that he was rushed to the hospital after complications following back surgery. We’ll accept that at face value. That’s serious, and our best wishes truly go out to Preston.

But he uses that to set the stage for what he writes next:

This could have all been avoided had I been smarter with my exercise routine when I was younger. As it was, I made a ton of mistakes which basically cost me my health.

It didn’t have to be that way.

My friend Dave Durell (ex-physical therapist for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) just released a special report titled “The 7 Deadly Workout Mistakes & How To Avoid Them.” I highly suggest you read this right now and spare yourself this pain. Do it for yourself. Do it for your kids. You’ll thank me.

Note that Ely seems to be linking his workout routine to his present poor health. Now, while it’s certainly possible that a poor workout routine can negatively affect one’s health, 99 times out of 100 it’s the lack of a workout routine that leads to poor health.

Further, Ely is pushing a report titled “The 7 Deadly Workout Mistakes & How To Avoid Them.” Uh, oh. Deadly workout mistakes? Like ignoring the signs of a stroke or heart attack? Like dehydration? Like not using spotters when lifting weights? Deadly?

We’ll get to those in a moment. But you get the picture. This is serious.

Problem is, ol’ Preston has a bunch of his facts wrong. He claims that Durell is “ex-physical therapist for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.” Umm. No. Durell isn’t a physical therapist at all. Never has been. In fact, he doesn’t even claim to be. On the sales page, he states, correctly, that he’s a physical therapist assistant. The educational requirement is a 2 year associate degree, generally from a community college. In Durell’s case, he earned his associate’s degree in 1995 from Housatonic Community College. He then passed an exam to become a physical therapist assistant. And that’s fine. Problem is, to become a physical therapist today requires a clinical doctorate. Back in 1995, it generally required a master’s degree, not an associate’s degree.

Beyond that, Ely claims that Durell was a physical therapist for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A double “nope” here. Not only was he not a physical therapist. His role with Tampa Bay was not connected to physical therapy. Durell’s sales page explains that he was a “strength and conditioning assistant” with Tampa Bay. Again, that’s perfectly fine and perfectly respectable. But he sure as heck wasn’t acting as a physical therapist (or even physical therapist assistant) with Tampa Bay.

Here’s the top part of Durell’s sales page:

Dave Durell's sales page for his exercise program

Dave Durell's sales page for his exercise program

Now, as for Ely’s linkage of his poor health to his former exercise routine–and his promotion of a report dealing with “The 7 Deadly Workout Mistakes,” there’s a–ahem–slight problem. True, that’s the title of Durell’s “Special Report.” But the report has nothing to do with “deadly” workout mistakes. It’s just seven pieces of advice–good advice, but pretty basic–on how to maximize an exercise program.

Here are the “deadly mistakes”:

  • Working out for too long
  • Not working out hard enough
  • Not working out progressively
  • Not recording your workouts
  • Working out too frequently
  • Not having a positive attitude
  • Not making a commitment

Even the few items that might conceivably be “deadly,” such as “working out for too long” or “working out too frequently,” don’t contain any major fear-inducing points. So, there’s room to fault Durell for the name of his report, but let’s chalk that up to a bit of marketing hype. And as you’ll see, the program that Durell is selling is designed to help you “Get The Lean, Healthy, Sexy Body You Want In Only Minutes A Day…
… Discover The Proven, Easy-To-Follow System That Will Get You Into Awesome Shape, Despite Your Jam-Packed Schedule!”

On the other hand, Ely’s pitch–tieing in “deadly mistakes” with emergency surgery and leaking spinal fluid–coupled with a misrepresentation of credentials is enough to earn this pitch a 10 on our Crap-O-Meter.