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"Thomas Clifford has made something useful here. This report will give you some really catchy, useful ideas.

It made me reconsider how I do what I do, so you might give it a look-see, too!" 

Chris Brogan, President, Human Business Works 

"Tom Clifford is by trade a filmmaker. For most of his life, he rarely wrote anything longer than a brief comment in the margin of a script. 

Now, though, he's producing tens of thousands of words a year, first as a Fast Company "Expert Blogger," and then as a writer for the Content Marketing Institute. 

How did Tom go from a non-writer to a prolific and much-read one? His eBook, '5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways . . . , ' holds some of his secrets."

Mark Levy, Author of "Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content"

“Tom is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet—if you have the privilege to meet him. And he does sterling work as well. But don’t just take my word for it.

Read this free report and you’ll not just love its tone and content, but learn a lot as well.”

Sean D’Souza, Psychotactics.com

“Anyone who wants to improve their writing needs this e-book. A lot of ebooks are short because they just don’t have much substance to offer. They’re not worth your time (and so are many of the long ones, too, for that matter). Tom’s is short because he’s so good at giving you only what you need to know. 

‘5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways to Write Faster, Better, Easier’ lives up to its promise by example as well as in the words themselves. Tom used the very same techniques he teaches you to write this book. 

And what’s in here is not just a rehash of the same tired ideas you find coming from people who have suddenly fancied themselves as writing gurus. There are tricks in here I never heard of (like the Writing Funnel) and some I had forgotten about and was glad to be reminded of (like Sporadic Writing).” 

Michael Martine, Blog Alchemist, Remarkablogger.com 

Entries in email communications (3)


The (Almost) Perfect E-Mail: 7 Step Checklist 

I was comparing different e-mail techniques with a friend just the other day.

The conversation prompted me to write down my e-mail process and to share it with you.

I (usually) go through seven points before sending any e-mail.

Take these tips for a spin sometime. I think you'll find them helpful in your future e-mail communications.

The (Almost) Perfect E-Mail: 7 Step Checklist 

1) Did I check the spelling of the recipient’s name?
Sounds kind of obvious, but, hey – it’s important. And while I'm at it, I'll double-check the rest of the spelling and grammar in the e-mail.

2) Is the subject line sharp and precise?
Not only does a precise subject title help draw attention to your email, it helps the recipient find your e-mail quickly– without much hassle. 

3) Did I answer the recipient’s question(s)?
Rambling off topic can happen easily!

4) Did I address any possible objections?
I put myself in the recipient’s shoes to reduce e-mail ping-pong.

5) Is there a next step?
It’s good to keep the ball rolling by including a next step (or two).

6) Include a P.S.
I read somewhere (forgot where!) that the P.S. is the second most often read part of a letter. Here are six awesome e-mail marketing powers of the P.S. from HubSpot. 

7) Don’t send the e-mail immediately. Save it in the “Drafts” folder!
This is my favorite technique. Wait a few minutes (or hours) before sending your e-mail. The elapsed time gives you the distance you need to see your response a bit more objectively.

These are my favorite tips for communicating through e-mail.

What about you?

Do you have e-mail tips that help you communicate clearly and effectively?

Feel free to share them in the comments.

P.S. Check out the Email Charter by TED Curator Chris Anderson. It's a pretty cool idea.


Why Precise Email Subject Lines are Like Diamonds 

Imagine a diamond.
Not any old diamond, mind you.
But a diamond with irregular, jagged, pitted edges.

Would you buy a diamond that wasn’t cut precisely?

Without that factor of preciseness, a diamond is practically worthless.

This factor of preciseness also applies to your email subject lines
A precisely written email subject line is highly valuable to your reader.

But wait a sec. Precise subject lines are not what you see 99% of the time.

Which makes you wonder.

What do 90% of email subject lines look like?
Most email subject lines are too broad, nonspecific and general– they lack any kind of description. Most email subject lines you read are, um, b-o-r-i-n-g, forgettable and yes, often worthless.

Have you seen these generic subject lines?
“Next meeting.”
“Proposal feedback”
“Meeting minutes”

Subject lines like these leave the receiver of your message wondering what the heck your email is really about. Communicating messages that create doubt or guessing games in your reader’s mind weakens the chance of having your message acted on.

Your email subject line is no different. As a matter of fact, your subject line can sometimes make or break the success of your communications.

Why bother making your subject line valuable?
It creates value. Creating value in your subject lines has three benefits:

1. It creates a trigger; making your communication more memorable.
2. It creates action; delivering results in a timely manner.
3. It is easily searchable; allowing easier access to recall and act on your message in the future.

Of course, you can only reap these benefits once you know the single “trick” in writing your subject line.

What’s the trick in writing a valuable subject line?
Be precise.

The more precise and specific you are, the more valuable and actionable your email becomes. So go ahead and add a specific detail or two in your subject lines. Or ask a question to generate curiosity and action.

Creating precise subject lines takes your message from “ho-hum” to “attention getting.”

Then there’s the problem you don’t think your email is valuable
Hey, you’d rather just fire off an email with a nondescript subject line in a nanosecond rather than take a few seconds to write something precise.

Which subject lines are more valuable?
“Next meeting” or:
“6/15 staff meeting: Customer testimonials needed. Bring three ideas.”

“Proposal feedback” or:
“Read last 2 proposal paragraphs: approve or change by 8/18.”

“Meeting minutes” or:
“7/27 Marketing Dept minutes. Reply to survey by 5pm today.”

Right– the second subject lines are more valuable. Why?
They’re precise. Clear. Sharp.

Specific subject lines beat generic subject lines any day. In fact, it’s this preciseness that creates tremendous value for your readers– just like a diamond’s precise cut creates tremendous value for the consumer.

So yeah, you’d be silly if you didn’t take an extra few seconds to think up precise subject lines for your readers.

Add a diamond to your subject lines
Be precise.

Your readers will secretly thank you.


P.S. How’s your email ping-pong lately?


How Bringing Up Objections Reduces Email Ping-Pong  

Ever feel like your emails are endlessly going back and forth?

You send your email.

It comes back over to you.

Over to them.
Over to you.
Over to them.
Over to you.
To them.
To you.
To them.
To you.

Ever wish you could put an end to this email ping-pong madness?

Email ping-pong? What the heck is that?
Email ping-pong is when your email with someone keeps going back and forth.
Kinda like how those champion ping-pong players who keep smashing that ball back and forth over the net.

Back and forth
Back and forth.

Email ping-pong is unnecessary communication. And yes, email ping-pong eats up big chunks of your time.

What causes all this ridiculous ping-ponging?
Two things:
1. Thinking of only one side of the story: yours.
2. Lacking specifics.

What’s a typical email look like?
Let’s say you email your teammate to get together to review a document. Here’s how your email exchange might go:

You: Want to get together soon about that project?
Colleague: Sure; sounds great.
You: Super. How’s next week look?
Colleague: Looking good, actually. How about Tuesday at 10am?
You: Rats. Out of town that day. How’s Wednesday?
Colleague: Sorry- my turn to be out of town. Monday’s wide open.
You: Great- how’s lunch sound?
Colleague: Phew- that’ll be tough. Have a lunch meeting with my boss. Rest of the day looks good, though.

That, my friend, is “email ping-pong.”

What caused “email ping-pong?”
1. One side of the story.
2. Specifics were missing right from the start.

All this crazy pong-pong stuff can easily be avoided by integrating an objection
What do you mean, “objection?”

An objection is when you get that feeling of opposing something. Objections come in all shapes and sizes. Here are what a few look like:
• It costs too much.
• I don’t have time.
• I’m busy that week.
• My team won’t go for it.
• My kids won’t like it, etc.

How does using objections reduce email ping-pong?
Because bringing up an objection helps reduce friction. Instead of only sending what you’re required to send, you explain something that someone might object to ahead of time. You add a piece of information they might ask themselves.

You beat them to the punch
Why do that? Because when you communicate something, chances are pretty darn good the other side will react with a question to what you’re saying.

What would our example look like with an objection in it?
Let’s slip in the times when you can meet with your teammate. Here’s what would your email exchange might possibly look like:

You: Want to get together soon? If so, I’m free:
• Mon 10am -12pm.
• Tues 8am - 11am and 4pm – 6pm.
• Fri 2pm – to 5pm.
Any of these dates work for you?

Colleague: Friday 3pm – 4pm is perfect.

See how easy that was?

So why doesn’t everyone slip in an objection?
Because people are soooooo busy processing sooooooo much information they don’t have time to think about the other person. They don’t take the few extra minutes to imagine who they are communicating to and how they might respond to what is being said.

How do you go about adding objections to your emails?
1. Review your email.
2. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
3. What questions could they ask?
4. List or think through those questions or those objections.
5. Answer them in the initial email.

Won’t people feel weird if you bring up an objection?
Actually, your readers may think you’re a mind reader. They’ll think you’re one step ahead of the game. Why? Because you’re answering their questions as they are thinking about them. There’s also a bonus point for raising objections: your reader will also agree with you quicker than you ever imagined.

What did we learn about email ping-pong?
• Email ping-pong can go on for what seems like forever.
• Email ping-pong happens for two reasons:
1. You failed to anticipate how the reader will receive your message.
2. You forgot to add specifics to clarify obvious questions someone will have.
• Excessive emails can easily be reduced by adding an objection or two.
• Pretend you’re the reader getting your email.
• What questions would you have while reading it?
• Answer those questions.

Now you know how to save a chunk of time and feel less frustrated by smashing email ping-pong.

Just do me a favor, ok?

Leave the real ping-pong smashing to the pros.