Why Funnels Aren’t Enough

Yesterday, I received the fourth and last (theoretically) in a series of marketing emails from a graphic design firm. The subject line read …

[Last Email] What could have changed your mind Randy?

It was a fair enough question that not many digital marketers think to ask.

So I decided to revisit all four emails, the first of which arrived about two weeks ago and had the following non-offensive subject line:

A quick note to say hello and connect Randy

As cold opens go, this had a soft enough touch that I decided at the time to open the letter and see what it had to say. To summarize, they did the following:

  • Told me their name
  • Hoped everything was going okay with me
  • Told me they’d found me by doing a search on LinkedIn “for professionals in the marketing & advertising space”
  • Referenced my LinkedIn headline in a way that was clearly automated
  • Described what their business does, which is basically offer “insanely priced” graphic design in as quickly as a business day on a monthly retainer basis
  • Encouraged me to reach out to them and/or visit their website

By all accounts, it was a well-designed, well-spoken email. But it inspired zero interest in me. Not just because I don’t need those services, but because I didn’t care for the approach.

Two days later, I received a second email with the exact same subject line and this content:

Hi Randy, it’s me again. Have you seen my first email? This is just a gentle reminder to check out what I wrote you. 🙂 Love to hear back from you!

Well, if I hadn’t already guessed from the first letter that I was an unwilling participant in their “drip campaign,” I knew it now.

Don’t get me wrong. Marketing funnels can be a powerful tool … right up until we figure out we’re in one. It’s like that moment when you realize the call you just answered is actually an auto-dialing robot and not a real human being with feelings and stories.

Five days ago, I received the third email from this designer, with the subject line, “Have you seen our portfolio Randy?” Which, as you might expect, was a similarly uninspired email with some text that basically encouraged me to go check out their portfolio. Which I did. They do good work.

And then yesterday I received the email that prompted this blog post, which started like this …

I have sent you a few emails over the past weeks and haven’t heard back from you. 😞

As stated in my email subject, I’d like to ask you a final question: What would have changed your mind to reply or take action using our service?

Again, it’s a fair enough question. And if I were to respond, which I still might, it would be to say something along the lines of the following …

Hi {Graphic Design Person},

Where do I start?

More than the obviously automated aspects of your digital communications strategy, I was put off by the fact that you didn’t even try to tell me a story. Not in your emails, and not within the pages of your quite dynamic and colorful website.

As a result, I have a very clear sense of the service you offer, but no sense of why you do what you do, why you do it the way you do it, or whether or not you understand anything at all about what I do as a business or why I do it.

So how could you have changed my mind?

Well, you could have started by trying to put yourself in my shoes instead of simply dropping me into your marketing funnel and pushing the start button.

And you could have at least tried to tell me some kind of story. About yourself. About your business. Or better yet, about me. About how you understand the challenges of a small business trying to get by these days without a graphic designer on staff.

Because by not taking the time to explicitly tell me any story at all, you implicitly told a clear one, whether you meant to or not. And unfortunately, it wasn’t one that made me want to do business with you or refer you to others.

So if you’d like to work on that, and start telling a story that helps you better connect with future customers, feel free to drop me a line. 🙂

Randy Heller