How I Work
Wearing sequins. (Obvi)
In order to rise above the inbox din, every single email you send must do one (or all) of the following:
- Create an enjoyable / interesting / thought-provoking / entertaining reading experience.
- Make the reader consider a different perspective, or turn inward and reflect on what you’ve said. Either way, they’ll think about it looooong after they’ve signed out of Gmail for the day.
- Make the reader laugh. Or at least smile. Readers are so much prettier when they smile!
- Deliver a story so powerful and compelling, they can’t wait for the next installment.
And in order to do all THAT, you have to be thoroughly zeroed-in on who your readers are, how you serve them, and what they care about at any given moment.
You also have to remember that YOU are not YOUR READER. You have a verrry different relationship with your inbox than they do.
(I know; it hurts my eyes, too.)
The Cult of Personality™ method has been honed over years of working with industry thought leaders, personality-driven brands, and companies with a socially responsible mission.
It’s founded on a single, uncompromising principle:
Excellent writing above all.
A-HA! But one reader’s “excellent” is another’s “watching paint dry.”
So how does one determine what to say to whom (and when, and how)? And how can we incorporate effective calls to action that still feel sincere?
The Cult of Personality™ Secret Kool-Aid Recipe
Brand personas that bust through walls
Before I even think about writing, I take the time to understand the relationship between who your customers are, what they value about your brand, and how you need to speak to them in order to connect the two.
This phase takes about two weeks to complete, and includes the following assets:
Customer Insight Map
A 3-D picture of your ideal person, including pain points, concerns & objections, daily experiences, and a few other tricks I like to do.
A clear-eyed comparison of your competitors (or whoever else is engaged with your audience) and what you offer that they don’t.
Main Value Propositions
In which we lay out the things your customer gets from you that they can’t get anywhere else—and why they should care.
The guiding principles for all your content, including voice, personality, style guide, and the infamous Word Sh*t List (my favorite!).
Every new client starts with the full Kool Aid treatment, which I like to think of as my “research montage.”
(Me, in a darkened library. Towering stacks of books surround me. Maps, spread across the table. Scrolling through microfiche, drinking vending machine coffee, figuring! shit! out!)
After the research montage, we move into a detailed planning phase.
This will vary depending on the project; this is what it looks like for content planning and weekly nurture emails.
(PS—all this preliminary work means that my “first drafts” are like, 90% there. I rarely, if ever, have to do more than just a quick round of revisions for accuracy.)
Cult of Personality™ Content Planning
How to create a meaningful, two-sided(!) conversation with your audience
The biggest difference between my method and “those other guys” (ha) is that I like to pick one theme and stick with it for multiple emails in a row. Usually this works out so that each month has its own theme, and each weekly email explores a different aspect of that theme.
This not only makes it easier to create and plan new original content; it gives the reader a smoother, more slowed-down experience.
Ready? It goes like this…
First, I review all your previous & existing content, across all platforms. Based on what you’re already saying, I’ll identify your major content themes and key messages.
On a live call, we’ll brainstorm all the content ideas that live inside your head. We’ll ping back and forth between my initial theme map and all your brilliant ideas, until they fit together like me & those leggings.
An organizational tool that we’ll use to develop each month’s content, while still leaving room for spontaneity. This can then be developed into a workable content calendar, in Asana or another project management system.
How I Work
In the book-writing community, authors self-identify as “planners” or “pantsers” (as in, flying by the seat of).
Copywriting can’t be “pantsed.” (Although that is hands-down the best sentence I’ve written all week.)
In order to deliver the goods, I need to know everything about the piece—from a play-by-play user experience, to the ins and outs of your expert opinion on that week’s topic.
Fortunately, I have a system for that.
Each month you’ll send me a batch of voice memos, which I translate into compelling weekly emails (or blog posts). You get to riff on the things you already think and talk about all the time, and I get to weave the word magic.
The beauty of this method is that it harnesses all the wisdom, experience, and unique value that’s already kickin’ in your brand, and translates it into your readership’s language.
(Without you having to do anything except babble into your phone for ten minutes.)
As a general rule, I don’t usually craft titles and/or subject lines until I’m in the first draft stage. (It’s just how my creative process works.)
I always include an alternative subject line or two for you to test out. And I always provide recommendations around sequencing and cadence strategy.
When you consistently deliver content of this caliber, your readers will see you as a source of inspiration.
They’ll try to adopt some of your philosophies. They’ll talk about you at caftan parties.* They’ll wonder what you would do in a difficult situation.
*If you’re not having caftan parties with your friends, I suggest you get your shit together immediately.
And when it comes time to invest in anything remotely related to what you do and how you do it?
You’ll be the first person—the ONLY person—they think of.
Emails for cult thought leaders.
Want to learn how to craft emails that inspire action and engagement WITHOUT the “tried and true” (cough: patriarchal) norms we’ve all been taught?
I’m doing it, and I can show you how to do it, too.
(But sometimes, I also like to write about the books I’m reading, or the creative process, or the entrepreneurial experience, or why I hate Steve Jobs, or how I met my BFF. I’ll send you emails like that, too.)
*Just kidding. It’s only an email list.