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Brilliant ideas from Subject Line Science | Donnie Bryant

When it comes to your email copywriting, what turns heads? What makes someone look?

As Donnie Bryant puts it, "Writing impossible-to-ignore subject lines is NOT magic."

Along the way we chat about:

  • Importance of Email Subject Lines: Understanding why crafting effective email subject lines is crucial for getting attention in a crowded inbox.

  • The Three Jobs of a Subject Line: Learning that a subject line must (a) get noticed, (b) encourage the recipient to open the email, and (c) set the tone for the email's content and the reader's response.

  • Creating Curiosity and Urgency: Techniques to pique interest and urgency in email recipients to prompt them to open and read the emails.

  • Leveraging Emotional Triggers: Utilizing psychological and emotional triggers such as fear, curiosity, or a sense of urgency in subject lines to drive email opens and engagement.

  • Principles of Direct Response Copywriting: Understanding foundational principles of copywriting for more effective communication in marketing.

  • The Role of Data in Crafting Subject Lines: The significance of analyzing data to understand what works in subject lines and why.

  • Impact of Subject Lines Beyond Email Opens: Learning how the subject line influences the entire email reading experience and subsequent actions like clicking links.

  • Approach to Event Marketing via Emails: Applying the principles of effective subject lines to promote virtual events and webinars.

  • Creating a Sense of Value and Relevance: The need to convey value and relevance in subject lines to assure recipients of the benefits of opening and reading the email.

  • Using Storytelling in Subject Lines: The power of storytelling to engage and connect with the audience, making them more likely to read the email.

  • Understanding Audience Psychology: Insights into how understanding your audience's mindset and emotional state can help tailor more effective subject lines.

  • The Importance of Integrity in Marketing: Ethical considerations in crafting subject lines and marketing messages, emphasizing honesty and respect for the audience.


Series: #ThoughtLeaderConversations   Sponsor: V2, LLC, expert virtual and hybrid event production,   Host: Roger Courville, CSP,   


Unedited transcript

[00:00:00] Roger Courville, CSP: When it comes to your subject lines, when you're writing emails, what turns heads? What makes somebody look? Well, in a sense, that's what we're going to talk about today, because there's a brand new book out by my friend Donnie Bryant. Welcome to Brilliant Ideas from Subject Line Science. And, uh, my name is Roger Courville and welcome to another episode of Thought Leader Conversations, sponsored by the crew here at Virtual Venues, where you can instantly scale your virtual and hybrid event production team with a crew that'll help you focus on something other than tech.

But, if you're any friend of the show, then you've seen Donnie around here before. Donnie is a direct response copywriter and marketing consultant that's generated more than 120 million bucks worth of business for his clients. And he's got a brand new book out called Subject Line Science and I love the, the, the subtitle.

Eleven made you look secrets to get emails opened and read based on more than a hundred million in sales. Donnie, welcome back to the program.

[00:01:03] Donnie Bryant: Thank you so much for having me. It's always great to hang out with brilliant people like yourself.

[00:01:08] Roger Courville, CSP: Well, you know, you flatter me, but you're the guest of honor. So let's let's talk with you.

Let's start at the start. What? Why are subject lines So

[00:01:20] Donnie Bryant: important. It's a great question, especially a great, uh, first question. Uh, it's, it's very, I, I had a conversation with, uh, a friend recently and I asked him, have you ever tried selling? He was a, he's a salesperson. Have you ever tried selling on the subway or here in Chicago?

Uh, and he said, Yeah, I have. Uh, it's hard. And the email inbox is kind of similar. Lots of noise, distractions, all kinds of things you can pay attention to. And we need people to pay attention to our messages because we have important information. We have important resources to share, and we really want to help people.

We can't help them until we get their attention. So we need to make them look and we have to get them interested enough to Continue looking, opening the email, reading and taking whatever action we want. So that's the, that's the first thing getting attention is important and it's increasingly more difficult these days.

[00:02:21] Roger Courville, CSP: You know, I've heard you say something before, and I'm giving, so I'm going to give you credit. So, you know, Donnie and I go way back and I've hired Donnie for projects like long, long time ago. And, uh, just to appreciate his work and I actually still read his emails that still drop in my inbox because he's really brilliant at what he does.

But Donnie, you said this once that, and I've just never forgotten attention before communication and, and I, I really appreciate that because to your point, your subject line is, is needing to do a lot of work.

[00:02:59] Donnie Bryant: Exactly right.

[00:03:00] Roger Courville, CSP: Well, in fact, tell me more. I know you've said that a subject line has three jobs and most people only think about two of

[00:03:07] Donnie Bryant: them.

Sure. It's, it's exactly that. We have to have attention in order to communicate. Otherwise, we're talking to ourselves. Um, so there's three jobs and obviously the one everyone thinks about is. Writing a subject line that gets people to open. And of course that's important. Uh, 'cause nothing happens without, once you get attention, now you have to communicate

So, uh, we wanna get attention. But first though, because again, the inbox is so crowded, it's so, uh, easily easy to, for us to just ski skimm through, scan, delete everything that looks. Not interesting or not important or not personal. And, uh, so the first job is to get noticed. Cause I think, you know, we, we just, we're always just scanning.

Most of us open emails on mobile. So we had to get, we had to stop someone's, grab someone's attention just long enough to pay attention. It seems like a small distinction, but it is the first thing. Uh, and there's a couple of different ways you can do that. One of which is to just have a different looking subject line.

If it's much shorter than everyone else's, people, it, it, it's visually distinct. And we instinctively look at that. Or also contrary, contrary wise, if it's super long, sometimes that will work. But, uh, there's just a couple, couple of things. Um, there's so many things, but okay. Getting stopped, getting people to stop and take notice is the first thing.

Then getting open. So you have to. The only reason people o re wow, the only people, only reason people open an email, uh, is because they believe there's something inside for them, some, some sort of value. Uh, so the subject line in order to get opens has to, in, uh, has to imply that there's some kind of value, specifically relevant value inside, uh, that's worth the time it will take to open and read.

So job number one is to get attention. Job number two is to get the open. And then job number three, this is the one that nobody. Uh, but I have, I have studying so much data, there is a, a distinct, uh, impact that a subject line has on everything that happens after the open. So your subject line will impact how people read the email, whether or not they click and why they click.

It's weird because you think once the email is open. The, the playing field is level. Everyone who's reading kind of has the same, uh, they get, they're reading the same, uh, information, so they have the same context, but from the data, you'll see that different subject lines have different impact on what gets, what gets read and what gets clicked.

inside the email. And then even what happens on the other side of the click. So if you're, if you're selling something, sending someone to a sales page, you'll find, uh, that you get different, uh, click through rates, different, uh, conversion rates based on the subject line where there's no other variable. Uh, so the third, the third job of a subject line is to, uh, create Uh, the, uh, the optimal emotional and intellectual state in your reader to take the action that you want them to take.

And really just to receive the information that you want to share with them. Because if you have something valuable, you want them to consume it, understand it, and apply it. Uh, so your subject line, believe it or not, actually impacts the, how that happens. You know, that

[00:06:38] Roger Courville, CSP: is fascinating. And, uh, I realize Something in what you were just sharing there that, that I wonder how it applies to, to the, to virtual events and webinars, and I'll share with you why.

So to reflect back what that last point that you just said, and correct me if I'm wrong, your subject line sets the tone or the mood. that, that then, based on that tone or mood or attitude or whatever, that aff, the affect, what they then do after that, in the email or even after they click through to the landing page or whatever, um.

is affected, in a sense, by the affect created by the, by that subject line. That's, that's amazing. What I find fascinating, and I, and I'm not going to put you on the spot because I'm, I'm assuming this data doesn't exist. In the world of webinars, Or virtual events or, you know, that kind of thing. We deal with something that, uh, a piece of content that has a life cycle.

Right? So we're, I've been in the virtual events business, webinar business since 1999, right? So I've seen a lot of statistics in terms of, um, click through rates and registration and registration to attendance. And, you know, how many people that register and then attend, answer a poll or respond to the closing, um, survey or that kind of thing.

And there's this life cycle of data collection that can happen in an event because it has a life cycle. It's not like click through, bought the product, click through, download the white paper. And, um, but that idea of setting the tone up front, uh, I find rather fascinating. So, um. Get me excited. And to be honest, uh, thank you, by the way, uh, for sending over a PDF of the book.

I haven't had a chance over the course. It was Thanksgiving week. So I didn't, uh, I didn't, I didn't spend my time reading it deeply, but, uh, let's talk about your book for a sec. Um, and before we do, I'll just point this out. I'll, for those of you who are actually watching, I'll Fly this up on the screen.

Subject line science. com is the, is the email or the URL that will get you to the book. But let's talk a little bit about this made you look secrets. Interestingly, your book has two parts, right? One is the foundations of some various principles that you lay out. And then part two is these 11 quote unquote made you look secrets.

What? Yes. What led you to just establish foundations before you got to the, to the secrets?

[00:09:29] Donnie Bryant: Uh, attention before communication, but also definition before communication. If we're not talking about the same, if our terms are defined differently, we will not be communicating effectively. Uh, so I wanted to establish, establish some terms, but also, uh, when you're writing subject lines.

or anything, uh, you want to understand the principles at work. Why does anything happen or not happen in, in your space? Uh, so I wanted to make sure not just giving, here's some subject lines that you can use, which I think that's what people want. But, uh, I want, to me, it's super important for people to understand so that they can go out and do this on their own or their team can do it to understand why people open emails.

What's at stake, uh, and, and what kind of factors play in before we even talk about the words. I always do this. I think you do the same thing. Uh, we want people to understand foundational principles so that they can do the tactical stuff because you can do the tactical stuff. But if you don't understand why it may, it may work sometimes, but you don't, you can't replicate if you don't understand.

What's underlying the tactics. Uh, so I wanted to create some, some of those, not create, but share some of those foundational things. But also there's some, there's a few things in there. I think people really don't really even realize like the thing about the subject line, the third job of the subject line, which is framing the conversation that will happen afterwards.

People don't really talk about this. They don't necessarily think about it. Uh, I like you're so deeply, Embedded in, uh, virtual events and, and with email, I, I, I'm so deeply embedded in spending all, so many hours, uh, working on it, analyzing it, digging through the data, teaching it, consulting on it, uh, and I've, I've just found.

Some, uh, some foundational things that I really want put out there so that people have them. And, uh, and so that's why I created the foundation, foundation section.

[00:11:35] Roger Courville, CSP: I love that. And I'll tell you why, you know, I obviously wrote several books about virtual presentation skills and, you know, travel the world, teaching, teaching that kind of thing and, and.

I similarly had, uh, have some principles that undergird everything that, that, that comes downhill after that. And interestingly, I remember, I still remember this. I was at a gig in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. And this gal comes up afterwards and goes, you know, Here's what would really help you, and I'll be danged if she didn't have a nugget that really helped me.

She's like, set things up by telling us that you're gonna talk about the principles first, because some part of your audience is just looking for the how to.

[00:12:25] Donnie Bryant: Yes. And

[00:12:27] Roger Courville, CSP: I, and which I knew instinctively, right? Because I'd seen, and I mean, I've done this a zillion times. I've spoken to tens of thousands of people around the world.

And somebody comes up and says, Oh, you know, quick, don't, don't talk theory to me. Just get to the whatever. And I'm like, wait, wait a minute. You can't have one without the other. So the idea of saying, hey, here is this foundational idea. Uh, the principle, the rule that then might apply differently on in context A versus context B, but the under underlying principle is something that doesn't change and frankly is the kind of thing, and I love this about what you just described, teaching the person to fish instead of just giving them the fish necessarily includes those foundations or those principles that undergird, uh, all of the other stuff, like you're 11 major look secrets.


[00:13:24] Donnie Bryant: but also this is true. Many people, not only do they, sometimes they don't know the principles, and especially if you have a virtual event. There's some people who just maybe entered the industry, they're very excited, they're learning. But they haven't had a chance to get the foundational knowledge.

It's the first, somebody, for somebody this is the first one that they're watching. They want to know, they really want to get introduced into the world, so I think you have to do that. But there's also people who misunderstand the principles. They think the wrong thing. Or they think they know something that they don't know.

Anecdotally, they've just, they think they've discovered something. Uh, so you want to clear away the, the incorrect thinking and improper understandings so that everyone is on, they're standing in, in truth. You're going to understand this book because you understand what's actually happening. Not what you think is happening, not what somebody who was trying to sell you their program was, was trying to tell you.

This is what's true. This is what we found from data. And I think, I mean, you definitely do it. And this is what I've attempted to do in my book. And interestingly, I mean, I just said people trying to sell you something, we'll maybe teach you something that's marketing true, but not like factual, factual and universally applicable.

Uh, I did not attempt to do that in this book. I just want you to know the truth. If you read the foundational section and don't read anything else from me ever, I think I will have helped you because I've discovered these, these things as. And I think, like I said, sometimes people don't really understand and they, they haven't had the opportunity to do what I've done to understand these things.

Uh, so I understand it and I just wanted to make sure if you know, these, these few principles, your emails will automatically be better just because you understand what's really happening.

[00:15:13] Roger Courville, CSP: And we've already started. So for instance, that idea of your subject line having three jobs, that's one of the foundational. That's one of those nine foundations that you lay out there, but let's sneak onto, uh, a couple of these secrets and, and, uh, we won't keep you around too long today, but before we're also done, I also want to get to you talking about your favorite subject line of all time and what makes it good.

Cause that's, I know that's a great story, but, um, There are 11 quote unquote secrets. We always love that word secrets, right? Because they're not any more because Donnie just revealed Donnie tells all but let's talk about two of them. And I love it because I do this too. I love every once in a while that metaphor or the analogy.

that just makes you want to click there. In fact, I already did. One of them is the Tootsie Roll Center of Effective Copy. Oh, bam, brother, bring it. Okay. So tell us what the Tootsie Roll Center of Effective Copy is.

[00:16:21] Donnie Bryant: That's an interesting story as well. I think, uh, in and of itself, there's one of the foundational principles is curiosity.

And that plays out more in everything, but I just wanted to spend time describing that, but the Tootsie Roll Center of effective copy, you gotta know in American culture. Now, if you're in other cultures, I don't know if the Tootsie Roll, uh, commercials. But, uh, we, we all remember, uh, watching the, the commercials and there's a little cartoon, uh, how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll Center with Tootsie Pie?

And you had to discover that. For me, now, it's not necessarily directly connected, but, uh, as I've discovered, as I've spent much time testing, one of the things that really gets Again, this probably could be foundational as well. One of the things that people, people take action on is insecurity. And by insecurity, I just mean, uh, cause I don't, none of the things that I'm talking about in this book are intended to be manipulative, dishonest, or anything like that.

Uh, but here's the truth. Uh, we want stuff that we don't have, we don't know how to get it, or we want to get rid of stuff that we have and don't want, but we're not sure how to get rid of it. And it creates a space, a tension, where Uh, there's insecurity. I want something and I don't know how to do it and it could be positive or negative.

Uh, but so that's at the center of many of our decisions. And so, uh, subject lines in that particular secret, uh, is to trigger that, uh, show people like for, for example, one of the, I think, I don't know if I put it in the book, I can't remember now. Uh, but one that I think of is, uh, this is the reason your cold emails don't No one answers your cold email or something like that.

It could be, this is the reason your wife falls asleep when you're talking. And, uh, if you have a wife and she's ever seemed to be, you know, zoned out from the conversation, there might be a sense that, oh, I wonder if I'm a little boring, uh, or something that I'm doing isn't connecting and when I get an email, I'm not going to say you're a terrible conversationalist and you, you know, your wife really should be thinking about somebody else, but it's, you know, it's important for us to, to know how to connect with other people.

And so some of these things don't come naturally, and then you begin to help them be more interesting in conversation. Oh, what happened? I just made that, that particular body copy up off the top of my head. But so the insecurity is. I wonder, you know, I know I could be a little bit better not going off on these weird tangents with in my conversations with my wife.

And so you just, you want to be a better husband, a better communicator. And so there's a little insecurity there because you're not sure. I mean, you want to do better and you're not, you don't know what you're missing. And so that's, that's one of the things that, uh, there's lots of ways you can do it. We explore some of them in the book.

Uh, and again, it's, it's not to manipulate or make someone feel bad. I say that I think three times in the book, we're not doing that. I'm not tearing people down and making them doubt themselves, but we are using the fact that you probably have that experience. And we're going to use your felt need in your reality, uh, to help you focus on a message that can help you.

[00:19:49] Roger Courville, CSP: Yeah, I, I appreciate it actually that you, that you pointed that out, right? I mean,

[00:19:55] Donnie Bryant: to me,

[00:19:56] Roger Courville, CSP: uh, communicating with integrity is one of actually the misunderstood or things about sales and marketing, right? We somehow, people in the field of sales and marketing realize that you can do so with integrity. People outside might.

have smarmy, uh, stereotypes, you know, of used car salespeople or something. No, people being people means that we can be people together with integrity or without integrity. And that's true when it comes to, to copywriting as well. I

[00:20:31] Donnie Bryant: was, my father in law is a pastor and I remember sitting in Service one time, uh, and for whatever reason in the sermon, he got to talking about advertising and it's manipulating and these people are, are, are taking, taking advantage of you and it's dirty and I'm sitting in the, he knows what I do, he wasn't coming at me, but, uh, you know, he felt like this is something he needed to say in a message and this is I'm in advertising, marketing, I'm, I'm taking care of your daughter and your grandchildren and you know me, I don't ever want to take advantage of people or be dishonest.

There's other ways to make money and we don't, we don't have to compromise morality to sell and be effective.

[00:21:16] Roger Courville, CSP: Well, let's talk about that just in the context of that one secret, right? The Tootsie Roll Center. Yeah. You're describing people who, um, who want something and don't have it or have something and don't want it, right?

And the way that I learned that kind of thing actually came out of, um, studies that looked at the structure of a presentation and what is the nature of, of what is or isn't persuasive. And at the end of the day, I, and these are my words, not, not the words you used in the book, but we're talking about the same thing, is You are illuminating and maybe articulating a cognitive dissonance, right?

And then you're offering resolution to that cognitive dissonance, which is frankly what makes stories tick, right? That's, you know, we're part of the way into a story and you could set your watch by a Hallmark movie, right? You're 8.

[00:22:17] Donnie Bryant: 2

[00:22:22] Roger Courville, CSP: minutes in and there's the precipitating event and then, and then, you know, some conflict arises and it gets resolved and everybody goes home happy and kisses under the mistletoe or, or, or whatever they're doing.

But, but the point. Is that you, that's, to me, that's an example of something you could do with integrity or without, right? Meaning, the person, let's use your made up example of not communicating well with the wife. You, it could be that person just hasn't really fully understood or grasped the impact that what they're doing.

Yes. Uh, in terms of what they're doing or not doing is having, and so you might just be illuminating it and articulating it in a way that helps them understand, ah, here's my, here's where I'm at, my status quo. If I stay at the status quo, I'm going to keep getting what I've always been getting. Yes.

Therefore, I need to take some action to, to get to this new desired

[00:23:27] Donnie Bryant: outcome. Yes, that's exactly it. I'm glad you pointed that out because it's exactly right. Yeah, well,

[00:23:33] Roger Courville, CSP: and in so doing, you as the copywriter are doing a benefit to humankind, right? Even if what you're doing is pointing out a problem going, dude, you suck at talking to your wife.

[00:23:48] Donnie Bryant: A friend would do, right? It is. If you notice you're messing up, buddy, you got to do better at this. It's uncomfortable. Maybe these subject lines aren't meant to really be uncomfortable. Maybe prick a little bit at discomfort, but because we want to resolve that. I think one of the other things, one of the other secrets is fear, which I know a lot of people don't want to talk about.

Oh, let's talk about that. Yeah, sure. The reason that, well, fear works. That's true. But the reason that we, we can be okay with using fear in a subject line and using fear in a presentation is that there are things to be scared of out there, right? It's, I, I use an example, and this is dramatic, but, uh, you know, you could say, uh, watch your blood pressure, you watch your cholesterol, and those are valid pieces of advice.

Uh, but if you told the story about having a heart attack on your kitchen floor. And, and your kids are coming home from school and seeing you lifeless, that's a scary story and that's one that you got to pay attention to. If you refuse to talk about that, we just talked about cholesterol and, uh, HDLs and LDLs and those things are true.

Those things are helpful, uh, but the story will get you, you know. Like, ooh, I, if now, if you're talking to an 18 year old about cholesterol, he probably doesn't care. But when you're talking to the, to an audience of people who are beginning to get to that place in their, their health journey, I don't want to have a heart attack.

Mostly because I mean, I'm going to die one day. It's true. I don't want. I don't want this to happen before it needs to happen. I don't, I don't want to happen. I don't want to cause this trauma for my family. So let me look out for myself so I don't cause them harm. So, so we're not trying to make you scared, but we will point out to you, uh, there's something to be scared of and, and you can fix it if you take action.


[00:25:37] Roger Courville, CSP: And I, I love. Well, and even relative to what we were just talking about, what you just described is, is in a sense providing a service, right? Sometimes the, the issue is there and I've just either been ignoring it or I've, I've just haven't taken time to consider the depth, right? Like you can say, Hey, you should watch your cholesterol.

And then, well, then the next level down was like what you just described. Hey, you know, there's this story of, let me tell you about the heart attack I had. I was laying on the floor and my kids came home and thought I was dead. And, um, it makes me think of, uh, my grandpa who was a preacher from Oklahoma and he used.

tell a story that I don't think was original, was not original to him about a dog laying on a porch, laying on the nail and a couple of little boys talking. And you know, the, the dog would howl or yelp. And you know, one old boy says, what's the problem with the dog? And he says, well, he's laying on a nail.

And well, why doesn't he move? He said, because it doesn't hurt bad enough yet.

[00:26:41] Donnie Bryant: Yeah. Right. And

[00:26:44] Roger Courville, CSP: we all have some of those don't hurt bad enough yet kind of things in our lives and, and, you know, I think with integrity we can help it help them understand, Oh yeah, that place that it hurts. Well, here's the cause.

Here's the solution. Here's the desired outcome that, uh, that I can make it easy to get to,

[00:27:03] Donnie Bryant: right. And, and really sometimes you got to point out it, it may not hurt that bad, but it's, It's causing damage that you don't notice Scott is causing problems that and down the road you're going to say I wish I'd just taken two seconds to move.

And I wouldn't have this problem, you know, that's a right

[00:27:20] Roger Courville, CSP: point. You know, when I was at Microsoft, um, we were, there was a time when, when it real early on in virtual events and stuff, I've been doing this a long time, right? Talking about virtual meetings and at one point we built out a calculator that illuminated all of the various ways that it impacted corporate collaboration behavior because most people would think of, of using You.

Pick your thing, right? Zoom didn't exist then, but at the time it was Microsoft Live Meeting. But most people think of it in one way, as in like, oh, yeah, we have our, our team meeting on Thursday afternoons that way, but we don't use it the rest of the time. And there were all these other use cases, and part of how we helped people think about all of these other things was by creating a calculator.

To me, what you just described in many ways can be going, hey, here's either places you are leaving money on the table. Or, or, um, or, uh, what was the nail analogy you just used? That little bit of pain is causing damage maybe more than you realize, right? And what is our most basic reptilian motivation? Our most basic reptilian motivation is to move away from pain and toward pleasure.

Well, so you just elevate those a little more.

[00:28:44] Donnie Bryant: Yeah, it's Eugene Schwartz, which is, I didn't quote in the book, I talked about a different copywriter, but, uh, he wrote advertising. And one of the things he says Uh, in the beginning of the book is, uh, and I'll paraphrase, don't necessarily make, uh, better mousetraps, uh, but show them bigger mice and, you know, you can, if you build a better mousetrap, the world would be the path to your door, but it doesn't work that way.

They're not looking for mousetraps unless they got mice. Yeah, that's

[00:29:14] Roger Courville, CSP: the build it and they will come story. Right. That makes her. Romantic movies, but sucky market.

[00:29:22] Donnie Bryant: And what we do, we can't, we can't hope that someone just becomes magically aware that we have the perfect mousetrap. Uh, but you know, when, when they start seeing the big mice and they, how do I, how do I handle this?

And that's where you were able to help.

[00:29:39] Roger Courville, CSP: What's your favorite subject line of all time?

[00:29:42] Donnie Bryant: You know, uh, The one that I usually say it, it probably is my favorite. Um, I have a couple, uh, but it's, it's this homeless folks need Netflix too. Is that the one I told you before?

[00:29:57] Roger Courville, CSP: Go for it.

[00:29:59] Donnie Bryant: Uh, homeless folk need Netflix too.

And this is a third, um, subject line, uh, made you a secret, uh, which is story. You can, you can, I hope that you can infer from the subject line. There's gonna be some kind of story inside, a dramatic, different kind of story, and, and there is, uh, it's from a true story of my life. I wonder if that's the, I don't, that may not even be the one I told you before, uh, the other one may be even more dramatic.

But this story, uh, someone in my family, uh, had no home, they were homeless. Uh, but they had a premium Netflix account, four screens, but they have no house. Uh, so, uh, that, that subject line, when I sent, when I sent it out, uh, massive engagement because people wanted to know what, what's behind the story. It's a, and it's an interesting juxtaposition, uh, and anyway, the point of the email was people We'll pay for entertainment.

This is what, in this day and age, entertainment is a key, uh, is a part of our lives. We factor it in, like, groceries, uh, and, uh, whatever other necessities we have, if you should be paying rent, or a mortgage, uh, and we'll put Netflix down too. We put our, our Wi Fi as a basic need now. Actually, I think it's on the list.

The basic need, right? So, you know, the point, so anyway, but it was a true story dramatized, not, not in an untrue way. I just, you know, I told the key details and entertainment is a, a deciding factor in what many of us do. We got two options. We'll take the fun at one. And so how do we put that to work in, in our marketing?

And, uh, anyway, so that's, that's something that worked really well, but it's also really, yeah. I think it's a fun subject. I have, I have a lot, but well, and

[00:31:50] Roger Courville, CSP: so let me, let me do this. I'm going to, uh, point out, you can find, learn more about the book and, or places to buy it at subject line, uh, subject line, science.

com, subject line, science. com. Not only more of these, uh, quote unquote secrets, but things that are contemporary, like, like example. prompts for artificial intelligence that probably right there is worth the that's worth the price of the book right there and I can tell you I've been studying AI a lot and every day I'm learning how much I don't know about about the art of prompting to get what you want and it's mind blowing but it's not just type one line in like a search engine.

It's a, it's a different paradigm. So you want to get a copy of Donny's book, Subject Line Science. Donny, one other question for you here, and this will kind of put you on the spot, but Relative to promoting events, given that that's our business, right? And ours are virtual and hybrid, um, Are there any nuggets that you've seen or experienced when it comes to this, applying this same kind of direct response?

Paradigm in the world of

[00:33:15] Donnie Bryant: events. Uh, I think so. And, uh, you hinted at it earlier or one of the things earlier in the title of the events. Now, sometimes your events need to be titled on your brand or they need to be titled around, you know, you, you got a longstanding event, but you can oftentimes create a frame around what will happen at the event by how you title it.

It can be a fear based thing, right? You know, 10 dangers from, for 2024. Or it could be 10 opportunities and they could be the exact same thing, but it's what you call it in order to create the frame around, am I coming here in a, in a kind of a defensive mode in terms of how do I protect myself from these problems or how do I, or in a, in a offensive mode where There's going to be things for me to take advantage of and I need to know about them.

You will get different results based on that. Even if the content is the same. Uh, I can't predict now what that will be for you. Uh, it will be dependent on your audience and everything. But, uh, that's one, one thing. Secondly, I'll say this. You should be using email. And I know your people do, uh, using email to promote.

I actually did a, uh, a presentation at a event, marketing event this summer. Uh, and one of the things that I found is, uh, people are hesitant to mail aggressively, which is not the question that you asked, but I'll tell you what I told them. One of the things I told them, which was in, when you begin announcing your, uh, your event, Now, for some, for some people, you're going to, it's, everyone automatically comes.

It's the event of the year. You don't, you know, everyone's going to come. Uh, but if you're trying to be an incumbent, not an incumbent, but you're trying to be a, uh, what do they call that? Like you're trying to come up against, you know, whenever you're trying to launch something, get something going or you want more momentum, uh, you, it's a hundred percent possible to get people.

If you begin to promote, people will go to the event page. and not buy a ticket on the first time. It's possible. Uh, guess what you, it's, you can get people engaged into a different. Uh, like if you send 'em on a different path in your e via email, or you get them to sign up for a different list where you, let's say for example, the 10, uh, 10 biggest things of fear in 2024.

You could have, uh, on that page, like you could even do it as an exit pop. Now I'm going down a rabbit hole. But if you leave the page without buying, you have an exit pop that says, uh, before you go, I wanna make sure that you, uh, know about one threat that you can begin to take action on right now. Put your email, your address in here and find out and then you can email them and it's not necessarily going to be.

Directly about the event at first, but you begin to talk to 'em about the things that they need to know, that will, that they'll get all the information about it at the event. So anyway, I say that to say, uh, most event marketers, I shouldn't say most, many event marketers could be more aggressive in their emailing.

It's, we, we just, we wanna be, uh, gentlemanly or gentle lady ladylike, uh, and res quote unquote respect people. But the truth of the matter is, uh, fewer emails. You're actually alienating people over some period of time. So, there's that. I'll leave that there. Uh, what's, uh, one other thing that I'll say. I think it's very helpful, uh, in event marketing, and maybe we don't do that often enough either, uh, to create a sense of curiosity.

Like, we spell out every single thing that's gonna happen. That's great. You can, cause what we're doing is we're showing value. We still may be able to add an element of, you never know what's going to happen when Roger's on stage or when Roger's on camera, anything can happen. Uh, and if we can somehow speed into that sense of curiosity, I know people buy, I got a text message from a friend, uh, and he said, I saw the sales page and this guy's selling 40 bucks or whatever.

But, uh, this is one season. This one C will, I'm about, I'm about to buy this just to know what the C is. The curiosity on the sales page drove him nuts to the point where he spent, he bought this thing. Didn't even really want it that bad, but he had to know what that C was. And I think we can do kind of the same thing.

Yeah. We got some of the same speakers maybe that you've seen before. We're going to cover some of the same topics as other events are talking about, but there's something else. And if you can create curiosity around value that you're going to bring or problems that you're going to illuminate, uh, and illuminate solutions for, but there's, there's an element beyond what's predictable.

This is something that is going to blow your mind. Uh, then, then people will have an additional incentive to, yeah, I need, I kind of need to see that. I don't think I'm going to get this anywhere else. Or I don't even, you don't even know if you could get it somewhere else or buy a book on it or anything.

Uh, so I think that the same, the same emotional, uh, reasons that people open and read emails and click on emails can be largely transferred over to reasons why people consider and purchase tickets to, or, you know, registered for, uh, events. That's a very long rambling answer. You know, you

[00:38:42] Roger Courville, CSP: covered some, you covered a number of good things.

Uh, you know, I've. It's something that I've thought about for, obviously, a long time. Taught on many, many times. Albeit, my world was in a really tight little box, one of which was me looking at the data of literally tens of thousands of events from when I was in a big company, Microsoft, working with big companies, to little companies, and we see the same, you know, now, because, you know, our little dozen person company.

you know, does business with big companies. But, so I've seen a ton of data, meaning we've observed what works and what doesn't. And yet you just illuminated a couple things that I think are worth repeating. So for me, if there was a way I would boil it down, it's that, Hey, if you got nothing else going for you, and obviously I'm thinking more probably like the single session webinar as opposed to the multi session event, probably a little bit different nuance there, is that.

Implicitly or explicitly use the words how to in the title and I, for me, it's like implicit instead of saying how to launch widgets on four bucks a day, it's just like launch widgets on four bucks a day. If you can't think of any other way to, to, to think of a, a title or a subject line that. In and of itself implies value in terms of me understanding what, what you'll get, but I love, and I just want to put an exclamation point behind the way you just described, um, the use of curiosity because you're right.

We want to tell people about all the cool stuff, but it's kind of like running into an amateur salesperson who just wants to tell you every stupid thing about the thing and never pauses. to go. You know what? At some point you're out of attention and I can't tell you about all the cool things. So what are those things where I'm going to like hint at what what's coming and and draw you in?

And that's one thing that I think I've seen done well in the events world where it's like, um, You know, here's the challenge. Here's the opportunity. And in this event, you will learn or come to this event and you'll learn the three ways to talk about widgets on Tuesdays and the five things to, and the, you know, the, the one thing never to do and.

And you can create curiosity in those bullets as you're, as you're saying, Hey, here's what, uh, here's what our promises in terms of, uh, what you can expect on the other side. So, uh, thank you for that. Because to me, um, there are some unique opportunities with regard to what you can do. In an event as opposed to it being a product sale or download the white paper or, yeah.

Or whatever the call to action is, because real time events sometimes have surprises and uh, that's true experiences that are different that, that aren't just transactional information. That's

[00:41:52] Donnie Bryant: so true.

[00:41:54] Roger Courville, CSP: So here is your curiosity builder for Donnie's book. You've got to ask, what is the human attention algorithm?

You've got to say, Hey, what are the unexpected twists? How do we do unexpected twists on familiar subjects? And then of course, as I mentioned, subject line AI prompts all within this book. You can find it at subjectlinescience. com. Donnie, I thank you so much for spending a little bit of time with us today.

Uh, congrats on the new book and um, and uh, good luck on those conversations with the wife. Uh, And thanks for

[00:42:29] Donnie Bryant: having me. This is a fun conversation. And hanging out with you again is always a good time. It

[00:42:36] Roger Courville, CSP: is always a good time. Uh, you can find Donnie at Donnie. d o n n i e hyphen Bryant dot com or subject line science dot com will get you to the book and to Donnie as well.

And, uh, by all means, just because I know this guy and I've, I've hired him in the past. I forget the first time 10 years ago or what it was.

[00:42:57] Donnie Bryant: Um, one of the things that

[00:43:01] Roger Courville, CSP: you, one of the reasons I love this brother is because he's got that heart to serve. So you want to get the book and see how he thinks. But you also might want to just pick up the phone and call him and figure out, Hey, is this, uh, is this a good fit for my organization?

Because a real pro brings some things to the table that we amateurs like me don't ever manage to get to. So Donnie, thank you again, donnie bryant. com, subjectlinescience. com. And again, we thanks to each and every one of you for hanging out with us at Thought Leader. in this particular episode of Thought Leader Conversations, we will catch you next time around.


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