Episode #180 – Jon Buchan On Cold Emailing Strategies To Make People Open, Read and Reply. (Even Massive Brands)
Jon Buchan’s first cold email…
a bulleted list of his skills…
landed him his first digital marketing job.
When word of mouth referrals dried up
after a while…
he realized he had no way to gain new business.
So he did what “every Brit” does in that situation.
He got blind drunk and in the fog crafted a cold email to send
What happened next was shocking.
Large corporations like Hewlett-Packard, Red Bull, Symantec and more began to respond.
He’d get replies like…
“My client sent me your spam email and we’d like to meet you to discuss opportunities.”
He used the same types of email to land people endless job interviews…
to get himself on podcasts…
and now he’s started a rapidly-growing Facebook community.
Listen to this episode as Jon teaches exactly what he’s writing in his fabulous emails.
B2B doesn’t have to be boring to boring communication any longer.
In this episode, you’ll discover:
- Use this rapport-building superpower to forge new relationships and create uniqueness.
- How stories endure…the PR savvy of dead celebrities.
- 3 foundational formulas to break through and stand out. You’ve fallen “victim” to these yourself…every day…without putting it all together.
- Weaknesses become towering strengths with a few simple words.
- How to express yourself and have reams of new clients thank you for it.
- Jon’s “Charm Offensive” Group
- Charm Offensive
- Samples of Jon’s emails on Twitter
- David Allan’s Make Words Pay
Intro and outro backing music: Forever More by CREO
David Allan:Hey everybody we’re back for another edition of the podcast. I’m David Allan for makewordspay.com – the host as per usual and we have a very exciting guest on here today because I think this guy for lack of a better term really gets it. He is a specialist in cold outreach. He’s really a copywriter in disguise I don’t think he’d really like to be labeled a copywriter and he’s really taken humor and sort of infused that into marketing practices to gain new clientele. And I’m probably going to butcher his name but John Buchan welcome to the show.
Jon Buchan: Thank you very much.
David Allan:Well welcome to the show. I think this is really good because I learned about you very recently and I loved some of the things you had to say. I read some of your read posts and so forth from the past and I think you’re just going to have a very exciting thing too because a lot of freelance copywriters which you know is a big audience. They’re not really sure for for a good chunk of time like how to actually go out and get clients. It seems to be a real big stumbling point. So maybe take us back from the very beginning before you got into all of this what were you doing and how did you end up here.
Jon Buchan: Yes. Let’s see if I said I did come back so I’m always being in business. And I had a lot of business. And after a few years decide how I wanted to move to London and work for digital marketing agency. That was actually probably my first cold email just thinking about it. I’ve not said this before but I just sent I a bullet point list of my skills to the top results in Google for SEO agency London. I think I’m going to be
in a week job I move down and then over the next few years it wasn’t. It was a family cable ish agency. I don’t I see expressionists. So I basically went to my agent CIA agent see over five years quitting my life and after a while the only people any job over me was say you know I thought I’d have I’m going to get me that job type that role. And I also thought it was a lot of tactics and things that were really not in the client’s best interest and I thought I can do this by myself or with my brother who was my business partner. And I got my 90 cents and
we started my agent say and went very well until all of my one of my slides dried up. And then I realized I was crazy too and I didn’t see what you’re just given will warm lace. I didn’t have a business so I was desperate and I dealt with that the only way Brits know how I got blind drunk. And I just remember I can’t remember most about evening but I didn’t remember I wrote this absurd claim. And in the morning I was still tipsy enough to think it was a wise idea to send this to very senior people at Big Brown very city marketing people. And I said like Red Bull and
Pepsi and so on and these you know these types of you know giant corporations and I didn’t you know I don’t know if I thought it would work but I think I did. I just thought I’d try. And to my amazement it worked. So I got these amazing complementary responses. And my favorite one sent me right. My colleague forwarded me an email. And we would like to meet you which is such an oxymoronic sentence. Yeah I know the one saying like I never replied to these but I absolutely give my money. I actually actually have two replies. And I realized every time I sent a same out every time I press send to I get paid
or you know purchase data from Octon directors. I did it I got more of these complementary responses and sounds more intense and I ended up meeting with Greipel cards the Mannatech Cisco Barclays love just countless big brands would reply and I get meetings with and obviously I wouldn’t close all of those but I closed enough that it worked and I didn’t change a word of mouth for about three years. I found a magic trick here. I didn’t do follow up messages. And obviously after a while I kind of reverse engineer why I came out. And one of the things that I recognized is that I remember when I sent it. One of
the things I thought was I need to send something different to what everyone else is sending because even if someone in digital marketing I would get calls e-mails offering me digital marketing so I knew what people were sending and I wanted to make something completely different. So I always I to reverse engineer it. I started experimenting with sending direct my analyst well. And after about five years of getting these complementary responses and bucking all these meetings I realized actually this is the thing on bestor is opening doors and how to. Get calls or meetings with just about anyone. And that’s when I think actually this is what I want to waste on its charm offensive. And when we
did generation through lÃ©ontine email direct mail and then this year around March the end of March this year I started my facebook group basically on a whim. I did a pilot call with a guy that runs a group called The Cult of coffee and I said you’ve got something unique you know. Then you could start a group that would be successful. And that was basically that’s when I made the decision. I started posting content and to my amazement just six months later I got five thousand and numbers after an email list. Now I’m selling products that basically a whole business. And I never thought my stupid
easy words from a drunken stupidity would lead to a second business. And if I I’m wrong in 2012 my life would be very different. And. I’m just shy people my very way is why I generate new business and it’s working to pay. And it’s a great feeling to bail out people.
Yeah I think. I think it’s very interesting you know story that you have and that you did you know sort of get blind drunk and sort of that allowed you to sort of you know think outside the box express really maybe who you really are. You know as a person and the way you would normally talk to somebody you see so many emails and of course I get these all day long too of you know just these stairs I’ll you know professional speak type emails and it’s just like god awful. You know I want to read the first. I don’t even know what the first thing I read of yours was but I just I laughed I know I laughed and I thought oh this guy is just he’s just expressing himself authentically.
And he actually had an idea just on the spot it would be funny to make a cartoon character. That’s actually the type of person that speaks like you know the mouth of a fairly.
That’s a great idea. You talk like that in his normal life and then he would put on another face. That’s a true market that goes up and is a great idea.
I was yeah I can do it when I looked at my I realized that because I never studied copywriting it might be something only recently I probably studies Southcoast writings. I come to sell products. I was using Kema formulas because I’ve been obsessed with stand up comedy and sitcoms and funny movies. So all of those were built in those like these different formulas. And I recognize that’s that’s what I’ve done right now. It’s I keep tension with these you know. Right now it doesn’t have to be laugh out loud funny but just then all the other emails in someone’s inbox and that’s one of the chiefs and I’m Yeah. So when he shot content myself and I love
it it just keeps getting crazier.
Yeah I think it’s and I think it’s you stumble on something that perhaps is different for everybody but the but for you it’s sort of the same for me. I first years when I first started writing emails what I learned from a guy named Matt fury wrote the legendary internet marketer and he basically would tell you he was forced to write like you talk and then sort of your case like you said you’re a big fan of stand up in movie funny movies and all sorts of sarcasm the stuff being British. You know I’m Canadian so I get a lot of that stuff too. It’s you’re just expressing yourself very authentic. And I think
that really what also is what really comes across not just funny but you’re just not afraid to express yourself.
Yeah. Well for me I am I struggle with the opposite. Like I’m always just find it curious when this courses on how to be more authentic. To me it’s not the default setting. Actually that’s the easiest part. I mean I contadino I read and like I can speak in corporate mind fucking up your job to me get me to write in a tone of voice and voice. I just couldn’t do it. So for me it’s on the other way around. That’s natural to me.
On the corporate set there’s something special to think about like the way you choose express yourself courses humorously. And there really is something there. A of marketing things. Sometimes is actually copyrighting what a sales message is like injecting a little humor. Sometimes it can be a sort of a risky element depending on who you’re talking to. You know from what I do elsewhere. We talked about as much as a magician. It’s really the humor that’s driving the whole performance. Endearing myself and creating rapport with the audience. Not so much the tricks or the you know the medium if you will what I’m using to express myself. I think it’s the same for you. Like there’s some there’s a special
rapport building thing that goes on when humor is shared between people.
Yeah definitely. And if you can make someone smile or make them laugh especially when it doesn’t work then you’re going to be you going to when someone’s attention and actually going to read your message and also then you’re likely to respond positively if you made them like you made or even the office. I think they’re going to hit reply and if you send a you know just a general generic came out and especially the humorist and it yourself or the situation where I just sort of joking about it you know because there’s a lot of e-mails where they kind of hide away from the fact that they said you know that they shouldn’t call him out. Whereas I’m in my
emails I would say I’ve highly on John Greetings. I’m John. Got United from A-list. But hey at least a list where they can do something right. That’s that they’re on a list. And I brought up my last name. I like that man’s name. I’ll start with you have this problem. Obama infomercial. I went right in with Yeah I got it from a list like a Since you say that you know the rules come down like I it and I was like no one else’s message me Libres and refreshing honesty is really effective in silence.
So it is it is because it just cuts through all that sort of like pretending you know that you’re not doing what you’re actually doing.
Yeah. It’s and I’m actually trying this taking it further as well for actually what I’m doing proposals aren’t coming at me thing and I’m going three prices at a price and I’ll go well I this is deliberately inflated because I know you’re going to negotiate me down. So I said to a client I said I just want the normal price and he was like no no no let’s play the game. That’s a completely local you know. If there is this kind of dance that we do that’s doesn’t really need to be there anyway. I kind of just make fun of it and just you know we’re all just paper at the end of the day we don’t have to
have this big pretense. And I think that’s the magic trick is that you don’t have to have to get through that.
Yeah. By calling attention to the elephant in the room kind of thing you supposed it and then it disappears. Exactly. Exactly. So let’s let’s go into more like history. You know elucidated a few sort of Trixie’s And if you will because we have like I said we have large you know audience comprised a lot of freelancers and this is the one thing I hear they get daily emails probably about this is like you know people I’ve heard you know prospecting versus you know positioning himself and all those guys stuff. But I think the best way when you’re starting out and the fact most people I’ve ever heard of doing anything service based starting out is they’re out
there outreaching to people and they don’t like to talk about that part because it came at the very beginning and sort of position themselves as some sort of dude who was like a magnet. But at the beginning you know they reaching out to people. So what are some of the best ways. Like you said you obviously use humor. You had this one e-mail that went for three years running. You know what are some of the elements people should be putting in their e-mails to make that connection with people that are very authentic where they’re only on the first person format.
I’ve used a very similar age now to get people as many job interviews as they want. Like that someone wanted to work in marketing. I had no experience but I got a job at a marketing agency and I got like 13 or 14 interviews and in an email I know there’s lots of tricks Nightbeat you know it’s got some humor in there and stuff. But it was honest of an 11 experience. They asked. Like I didn’t we didn’t pretend that I was these veterans they would be taking that chance. Well you get to mold me into the perfect employee so you can you can take your weakness put it on make it call it the elephant in the room or turn it into an advantage. Right. That’s a
huge thing. And then there’s other things like when you’re making an ask I always sugarcoat it. So one of my lines from the original now is. If you agree to meet with me for coffee or lunch or tequila shots and promise to make sometimes attaining your luck I might even wear a top hat. And you know I look at that is that there’s a formula for a joke that is called a triple and it’s basically obviously coffee that’s sensible. Lunch that sense looks killer shots. That’s completely absurd. No I was up against loads of agencies that I’ve got much fancier offices
ostensibly but I pastries. For. Staff. Being a fan of client lists you know that I had a lot more towards all that stuff as an advantage but then no one else has offered to take them for tequila where I get to night that is all they need to remember me for good or ill mostly for good. So you sugarcoat your requests and if it’s a phone call I’ll often say if you great a seven minute call with me. Just an unusual number. I will certainly do you know by telling you either the lamest joke I know or some random trivia about my hometown that you’ll find
online fascinating and it just makes that request that instead of it’s ending like a hard sell you turned into a low because the channel called e-mail is not to that every feature and benefit of the all is to sell the idea that a call with you are making is not a terrible use of that time and it turns into. And as I say I’ll give you some idea. You’re free to stay up. So with that instead of feeling like I’m going to be hard southcentral it’s like oh this is going to be a fun call and I might get some ideas for free. You know that and he’s made me laugh that at the moment you know you can see how that’s going to be far more enjoyable. And I might say yes to that request but I’m going to be grilled
by a salesman. So it’s been putting your cards on the table. Sugarcoating your requests. And then there are joke formulas that you can use that anyone can use so what is the trick. I just went through. There’s another called the triple reverse and I used this actually to get on the Kevin Rudd just as I started with I want to introduce myself in a way that showed I was interesting was he unclutter. I last I wrote ZEVALIN says and then immediately smile got a laugh and you see just winning people’s attention. So the way it works is you make someone smile and laugh and then you can put your little pitch in let me get down to brass tacks. Talk about your business man you
made him laugh again and you can do it or ask so nicely and you just keep winning someone’s attention with a little. Yes family doesn’t have to be laugh out loud funny it would just smack with the stuff that gets their attention. And I’m one that smiling if you think about it as they’re reading it they’re reading your requests while they’re smiling and laughing. They’re going to the mall. So it’s got a little grace period or for sale that you’ve created. And if people want specifics if you search for find the fairness of the hash tag hash tag send it on Twitter. The people at the stands the letters I used to send will scare the hell out of me. I didn’t want this message getting out. But
now it proves that it didn’t work so I started sending as a direct mail piece of research that I asked to expand the all say the exact copy and replicate it. Sorry if I rambled on a bit.
No no that’s fantastic exactly what we want to know. So you’re basically creating these little like almost patterned interrupts you get getting the norm like most people would say and that without those things in there so they just get this boring email it’s like pitching your services or whatever. But you’ve created these little pattern ups.
Like you said these which are love which smirk were the sort of little bits or does that you’re sprinkling in amongst the to you the important stuff.
Yeah I think that I’ve labeled it so I didn’t know that time an interrupt and tell you this. Yeah and as soon as I had the time I was like I know what I’m doing. That sounds like it was intended to be true. And I coined humor I just wrote I think it’s the best homage drops in science and so on I know staling remotely. And I’ve been asked the best first impression you can make and the other thing about this approach is it looks really personable even if it’s not seen. I don’t know why I’m saying the same mean out of the first name changing for a long time a just looks passable.
It looks like a one to one exchange even though it’s not just a way of writing that’s what that resonates. And the other benefit is he will respond and I’ll try to make you laugh or I’ll respond in the same informal style. So already you’re talking in a different way you’re not talking in business language. You talk a lot you know each other. That’s a huge advantage. People actually look forward to the cold that you’re going to have rather than just a grains.
Yes. Yes. No I think I think that’s yeah that’s a very important thing. It’s like this afternoon I think of the name of the book but there was a book that came out many years ago where the guy advocated being 100 percent honest at all times. Yeah. And he said that while that is incredibly difficult. He said that immediately when he was like that it freed up everyone else to be like that. And so that’s exactly what you’re doing in a way or you’re because you’re incorporating humor and you’re making people laugh and stuff. They’re coming back and it’s just more casual and more real.
They simply I think a lot of that and I use this especially to get in touch with for brands that was my thing I really wanted to work with big brands at the time. And. I think a lot of them I kind of liked that I wasn’t putting them on a pedestal. You know they are people and I guess they must get so many emails that you know scour that linked in profiles and find something that they got in common with them. I think people can sniff that like you know pretending that you know asking.
What I do like I can jog up on it.
I can imagine a scenario where you don’t start at once. I write it all that’s the thing I can talk about that subject line. I actually read some people that I kind of you know just like to be spoken to normally. And there’s like a bit of a slump. And I think panic people kind of like the airline business as well as like it shows a bit of daring and brazen. Yeah. Yeah. Shows some confidence not just in positioning there as well I might be extrapolating a way too much but it is something that. And I just like to say I can say that normally Yeah. It’s completely different to the same people that is really
petrified of putting a smiley face and a name out there. We got to this point where. It’s kind of like double lives on us. Why are we seeing this this way. Why. I think it might be a PR agencies that have in the last few decades taught this kind of double talk. I said that right. I don’t know what it is but I’m hoping one by one we can make this communication more human.
Yeah well I think there’s a lot of parallels to a lot of different sort of fields you know. I mean this is the same thing that I would think occurs in dating you know people are looking for the perfect thing to say to the member of the opposite sex to sort of unlock that conversation and get things started. It’s almost the same thing because they’re looking for look and say something magical where like the music comes on in the background here it goes to the side you know and you sweep a person off their feet or whatever works much better just doing kind of what you’re doing which is just being real and just talking like you would normally talk and just not putting putting it on a pedestal just saying hey what’s up is you know
yeah I’m just confidence.
I think people can detect when you make tentative and hesitant and not enjoying the whole exchange Why is this you know everyone’s going to like it. Like I didn’t get a response once and this was racing I I there’s this just this year where I got a reply saying congratulations this is the worst housing marketing e-mail I’ve ever received. Before I get even a reply a minute we sent a follow up saying but the irony is not lost on me that I replied You know it’s brilliant. See I think people are worried about getting those negative replies and my response to that is well if you sending call emails you are interrupting someone’s
day don’t respond at all. All right. Now what I want you say you’re going to get some replies like if you do. Right now my human mind you are trying you know in some humor and especially the depersonalise a lot more. You have a much higher chance of someone. I’m also. So for me it’s self-selection like I haven’t really silly things in front of me. I photoshopped a basket of kittens had babies. People have said Aren’t you worried that people are going to go. I’m not in it with him he’s playing a professional and for me it’s like now that that’s exactly the point it’s self-selection. It’s not about
opinion. I don’t really want to work with them. I have standards of my detractors I have standards. I just. That’s. And the boring people can come where they are basically boring.
Boring boring. That’s a good way to put it.
John what are some really people want to do want to get some teachable is of humor down. They don’t want to seem like a dog or a milkshake. What work or what should they be reading. We should look into.
Well first and foremost the group on Facebook called charm offensive and I’ve heard they’re good. Yeah yeah yeah they’re not that they’re not entirely I fly by.
And I heard you say a bunch of kids from a burning building so I guess allegedly.
Allegedly so that you can find me on the link. And John Buchan and. Charm Offensive daquiri Hey I’m actually going to start. As of today actually I’ve started writing on my blog Zouabi material on that. And you know something like I hope we are on the outside of my stuff. There is a great book I’m going to butcher the name now called the serious joke Writer’s Guide I think and it’s by someone I think it’s Juday is it is that sinister prices guide. I believe it is called and can get on Amazon. Really really.
Really the best thing is to watch stand up comedy or watch comedy more and it can’t be you know the more and more you watch it the more it creates those sort of you know punchlines. We’ll be calling the formulas. Well we’ll just be calm natural. Combined with you know going to like the charm offensive group and letting the sort of humor formulas just so you know I’m just writing more. I just practice writing. You’ll get better at it. So that book from Amazon joined charm offensive and watch more comedy and you’ll be able to get better writing than this disarming style show. Or just write my letter.
And just rip that up and change the references slightly. That can be a short cut.
Who are some of your biggest comedy influences.
Oh yeah I just it so as far as just like being really good with jokes. Jerry Seinfeld is just a great joke Strassmann. I like Bill Hicks. I like a lot. Bill Daksha pal Chris Rock loves those guys but also the writer Hunter S. Thompson in his book fair and I live in Las Vegas and he also has books of just these letters that he’s written and that kind of style because he was not think about him and so few people like this guy is the same person to everyone. Right. Literally it’s their mother that you know it’s
slightly different but pretty much the same person. And that’s only one that I know of. Like that. So check out his books as well.
Also he is to do one thing about Hunter S. Thompson I heard a friend who was like a Hunter S. Thompson like afficionado and he said that Hunter S. Thompson couldn’t actually hand up the books of like Hemingway Afghanistan.
Yeah. Yeah you say you got fired for typewrite he a copying got a typewriter.
Oh yeah just look at there’s a great video online for people who want to go look. I think I think it’s all a bob and you where are you. I think it’s Conan O’Brien is out there visiting them when he was still alive when they’re shooting off cannons or something.
Or does it actually get a good idea. Great line. I just remember it is a formula where he’s I think he’s one of the universities and he said I hate to recommend alcohol drugs insanity but it’s worked for me. Another two or of us boy go.
That’s awesome. I really want to thank you for coming on the show. John you’ve been a pleasure to talk to you. Was a very funny and you should do some stand up.
I’m going to keep fighting and I’m going to do it again and I want to say I would love to say some stuff from me that talks. Well the magic and how it relates to coffee I’d love to say that.
Yeah I think I think I’m willing to say we both got our homework cut out for us. Yeah yeah. Likewise I was going to see oh I know where you’re performing next John. And yeah real pleasure having you on the show I wish you the best for people you know charm offensive. Of course what was that hash tag people looking for.
And the fire is actually I found the ferret and you’ll see a few people at scanned that last are in and say hello.
Excellent for everybody else. That’s the route for this week. We’re back again with another exciting guest next week. Until then.