The Reader’s Attention is Yours to Lose

Broadcast on radio station WII-FM.

You probably receive dozens of emails that begin like this:

Hey Pat,
I hope you’re doing well.

My name is Morgan and I work for Megabucks Incorporated. We provide world-class services to companies like Name of Your Business.

What’s wrong with this email?

First, it presumes that you (the reader) care to have a personal relationship with someone you’ve never heard of.

Second, it focuses entirely on the seller and not on the potential buyer.

If you want to sell me something, you have to tell me:

  1. How you got my name
  2. How you learned something about my business
  3. How you know I have a problem
  4. How you can solve my problem because you have solved it before
  5. Bonus points when you explain how you can make me look good to whoever matters to me (my boss, CEO, CFO or even myself).

I call this approach: The reader’s attention is yours to lose.

I’ve used this idea in outlining my view of newsletters; now let’s apply it to promotional emails.

Plus, let’s include the World’s Greatest Radio Station: WII-FM.

You know that station. It’s the one all your contacts and prospects listen to every day: What’s In It For Me.

To begin, every communication starts with one of the following four:

Thank you
You or Your.

You engage the reader’s attention by speaking directly to them.

If you have not previously communicated with the email recipient, start by indicating how you learned their name.

Your name came to my attention in a review of fellow members of the Name of Professional Membership Association.
Your name was mentioned by our mutual contact, Parker Brown.

This reference builds trust by establishing that you have a shared interest; here, you both belong to the same organization, or you were referred by a colleague.

Now, demonstrate that you did more than create a merge mail. You actually visited their website or LinkedIn profile.

As a professional focused on _____ , you usually _________.

Introduce the problem that you observed in their industry, business or municipality:

Small business owners in Metropolis are finding it tough to follow the new ordinance that employers not ask job candidates about their prior compensation when interviewing potential hires. Doing so may expose you to liability for asking an illegal question or discrimination.

Explain how you can help:

You can learn how to avoid a potential lawsuit or fine by reviewing these guidelines of questions that are and are not permissible under the new ordinance. (link to a page on your website).

Clearly indicate the steps the reader should take next. If you want them to call you, email you, click on a link to download a resource, visit your website or book an appointment for a complimentary consultation, you must indicate the information or tools to do so.

Accordingly, provide five key things:

  • your phone number
  • your email address in a link with a pre-formatted subject line
  • the link to the download without requiring an email address
  • your website URL
  • the link to your scheduling calendar.

Beware. If you throw the reader a me-first pitch about how great my product is, it’s likely to bounce right back to you.

The reader’s attention is yours to lose; accordingly, show you know something about them and give them a reason to keep reading and connect with you further.

This Month’s Tip

Confirm your emails speak to the reader. Read one of your recent emails to a potential client, or one you received. Highlight in red the words I, MY, WE, OUR. Then highlight in yellow the words YOU and YOUR.

When you are done, the email should display more yellow words than red. If not, take a stab at inverting some of those sentences to address the interest of the reader. Here’s an example.


Are they talking about your emails on radio station WII-FM? If not, contact me at, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Together we’ll focus on your reader. Once their attention is lost, you cannot get it back easily.

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