by Shawna Suckow, CMP
• Break through the clutter
• Tips to get noticed
Are you frustrated with attendees, suppliers, or planners who don’t read your communications? Welcome to the era of the “Busy-ness Bubble.” We each have one to protect us from all the media and communications noise out there. Our email inboxes are overflowing, our voicemail boxes are full, and we can’t add more time into the day. We’ve therefore trained ourselves to ignore most communications that we deem unimportant, mundane, or “salesy.”
If you’re struggling to get your communications to stand out, you can’t fall into the same mold that everyone else is in. You have to stand out, be unique, be worthy of your reader’s attention, or you’ll never break into their Busy-ness Bubble. How do you do that?
1. Humor is an easy way to snap someone out of their mundane routine. Try including a fun, random photo and an unusual subject line in emails. Laura Chappell, Assistant Director of Sales at Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa in Birmingham, AL, is brilliant at this. She once was trying to get appointments with planners in St. Louis where she was headed on a sales mission. She was trying typical tactics, and was largely ignored. In a fit of desperation, she left her comfort zone and sent a funny email with the subject line: “Hotel Salesperson Resorts to Writing Haikus to get Appointments in St. Louis.” She included an actual, funny haiku in the email. Her appointments filled immediately.
Planners get frustrated when they send out program details to registrants who seemingly ignore the important information. Prior to SPINCon 2017, we had the same frustration, so we tried a new approach. The email subject line was: “Bet You Won’t Read This.” In the attachment, the headline read: “All the Details You Probably Won’t Read (Please prove us wrong!).” Each category had a fun headline as well. Instead of the ignorable—yet highly important—information on airport transfers, most people actually read our information. It stated: “Get your tuchus to the hotel on your own. On December 5 there will be airport shuttles departing every half hour to DFW.” The result? Higher readership, fun comments on site, and better adherence to program details.
2. Transparency gets people’s attention, because it’s so rare in business communications. Have you ever asked for help from someone you’re trying to sell to? I remember SPIN’s very first chapter meeting in Atlanta, where I knew nobody. I was sending email after email, with horribly boring subject lines. My rationale was that these are busy senior-level planners, and I have to fit as much information as possible into the subject line. I included the event’s name, date, location, and time. How boring and ignorable! They didn’t even know what the event was! In a moment of sheer frustration at the low response rates, I sent out an email with the subject line “Can you attend?” In the body of the email, I vented a little frustration about being ignored, and included a simple plea for a response. Wow! The response rate went through the roof, and they were all strangers to me! If you think transparency won’t work, think again.
3. Weirdness definitely breaks the monotony of the usual business email. You’ll get noticed, and your recipient will be more likely to read your email and respond. I used this approach at a major industry conference where I was seeking appointments with hosted planners to promote myself as a sales & marketing speaker. Prior to this particular conference, the poor hosted buyers receive potentially thousands of solicitations for appointments. To make it worse, all these solicitations go through the conference system and must conform to a template…so all these emails look the same with three photos across the top, some text, and a plea for an appointment. Knowing this, I sent my email with three crazy cat photos across the top. In the body of the email, I said, “I know you’re getting bombarded with emails, so I’m sending along some random cat pictures to brighten your day.” My appointment book filled immediately. Weirdness works.
4. Emotion is another approach you can try. Emotion in any form creates retention in adult learners. It’s a powerful tool if you use it correctly. What is it about your event, your property, or your destination that can create an emotional appeal to the recipient of your communications? This is the perfect opportunity to stand out by sharing the unexpected.
5. Peer-to-peer communications have a better appeal than salesperson-to-customer or planner-to-attendee. This is a great opportunity to try a video email. Video email goes into the recipient’s inbox like other emails, but it looks different, which immediately makes it more noticeable. Video email is still so rare that recipients will open and view it out of sheer curiosity. If you try video email, just have a simple conversation into your webcam or phone as if the recipient were already a friend. This has been a great tool for me when someone is considering hiring me as a speaker. If I’m the only one who sends a video email, while everyone else is being salesy and traditional in their communications, I’m the one who forms the best relationship.
Consider trying one or more of these approaches. You may be hesitant because it’s not typical “professional” communication. “Professional” communication gets ignored today, because our inbox is full of it! Of course, you must know your demographic and how far you can push the envelope. But in most cases, people appreciate any attempt to break the monotony.
Shawna Suckow, CMP, is the founder of SPIN: Senior Professionals Industry Network – the world’s largest association for hospitality planners and suppliers with 10+ years’ experience (www.spinplanners.com). Today, she speaks all over the world, helping planners orchestrate more engaging meetings, and helping hospitality suppliers understand how to market and sell more effectively to tough buyers.