December 8, 2021

Tips for Cold Emails

A new list member sent in a classic question:

Hey Jonathan, wanted to know your thoughts on reaching out to clients with cold emails. Would be great if you can give me some tips on that. Thank you.

I haven’t tackled this in a while, so here’s my current thinking on cold emails:

Don’t (need to) do it—Ideally, you would have enough inbound lead flow that you wouldn’t need to drum up business with cold outreach messages. If you’re not getting enough leads, cold outreach is a last resort. Do it if you must, but ALSO take action every single day to attract leads organically so you don’t have to keep doing outreach when money gets tight.

Answerbomb in watering holes—Find places where the folks in your target market gather to talk shop. Search for emotionally charged language (e.g., love, hate, sucks, dream, nightmare, crazy) and requests for assistance (e.g., does anybody..., help with...). If you find someone who you can help, drop an “answerbomb” on them, in the form of a super detailed and actionable answer. If you blow their mind and they need more help, they’ll be fairly likely to go to your profile and contact you directly.

(PROTIP: You can also use your answerbomb as a blog post, list message, and social media post.)

Don’t spam people—What is spam? I like Seth Godin’s definition: “Spam is commercial, unsolicited, unanticipated, irrelevant messaging.” Don’t spam people. It won’t work, it’s annoying to the recipient, and makes you look selfish and desperate.

(PRO TIP: Only the worst kind of clients would consider hiring you after you’ve spammed them (e.g., price buyers who recognize that you’re desperate and will try to nickel and dime you to death.)

Send personalized and relevant messages—Cold outreach is by definition unsolicited and unanticipated, but it doesn’t have to be commercial or irrelevant. Do some homework about the person you’re messaging and put yourself in their shoes. Learn out what they want, let them know that you might be able to help them with it, and suggest jumping on a quick call to see if there might be a good fit. It is a lot of work to send personalized relevant messages? Yes. THAT’S WHY IT WORKS.

(PRO TIP: This approach sets you up for having The Why Conversation even though you reached out to them because it’s framed as “maybe there’s a good fit” instead of “lemme pitch you on my services!”)

Don’t forget your past clients—If you find you’re in need of scaring up some quick cash and are considering cold emailing people, don’t forget to email your past clients and say something like, "I’ve got some availability starting next week. Is there anything I can do to help you grow your business?"

Don’t forget your friends and family—Your friends and family trust you. If they have friends and family who are looking for the kind of results that you can provide, let them know exactly who your ideal clients are and ask if they know anyone like that who might be looking for $business_outcomes_you_provide. It’s amazing how many people in your circles can connect you with potential clients if you give them the tools to do so.