You Had Me At Hello

I spent this morning clearing out my inbox which, after two days of being stuck inside due to a rare Southern winter storm, became cluttered with all sorts of junk. As my eyes quickly scanned through the subject lines, I became aware of which ones drew my attention, and which ones I didn’t hesitate to send to the trash. The latter are typically unsolicited messages from unknown sources. They usually don’t address me directly, but instead lead with whatever they’re selling. “New!” “Today Only!” In a matter of mere seconds, I will decide if the message is worth opening and exploring.

Psychologists call this phenomenon “thin slicing.” It’s the ability we all have to find patterns in events based only on thin slices, or narrow windows, of experience. In other words, making quick decisions based on very little information. In our super-busy, get-it-done-immediately lives, marketers have a very narrow window of opportunity to make a first impression that will lead to a lasting relationship. 

The emails that cause me to pause and do a double-take are the ones that address me directly by my name in the header. “Hey Tricia, Wine’s On Sale!” It’s a start, but even then, it’s no guarantee I will actually open the email to read more.

Which brings me to the third type of email in my inbox this morning – the one that grabbed my attention and made a permanently negative impression. It’s a simple, but powerful thing. Get my name right! How can I trust you to deliver on anything you’re promising if you can’t even accurately spell my name? Also, make sure the product you are selling is relevant to my life. Call me crazy, but I don’t think I’m the right target market for “Hit the Road with Diesel Driving Academy” or “Erection Problems Making Your Wife Unhappy?”


It all boils down to Marketing/PR 101. Start with research. Know your audience and what make them tick.  Otherwise, you’re wasting your marketing dollars and your prospect’s time, both of which are in short supply.

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