Communication essentials: have a point & bold thinking

“Here’s a good idea: Have a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!”

-Neal Page, Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Have a point.

I was reminded of this line from my favorite holiday movie as I was going through the many, many cold emails I received yesterday.

As someone who invests time into business development and uses email as an outreach tool, I always read these emails. And I have to say … wow, have people become lazy! From the entry fields (my name is right about half the time … and of those times it’s spelled right even fewer), to the subject (no, ‘can I tempt you with Cheesecake Factory’ isn’t an effective subject line) to what I really want to talk about today—the content. It’s all gotten very sloppy.

I’m a little picky when it comes to email content. I own a communications agency. I have a public relations degree. And as I said, I send emails myself. The basics are being overlooked*:

Knowing who your audience is. I own a firm that provides content, creative and other communications capabilities. Please don’t write me offering to do content or design work for us.

Know your audience’s pain points. If you’re asking me if I want to reach more millennials or Gen Zs with my e-commerce strategy, you really don’t know anything about me or what I sell.

Know what year it is. I don’t need a mass faxing service. Sorry.

Know your boundaries. Back to the Cheesecake Factory email … I’m not meeting a stranger for dinner. I don’t care if your pitch lasts 10 seconds or 10 minutes before you ‘let me’ eat the free meal you’re baiting me with.

*These are all from real emails. See, I told you I read all of them.

But maybe the most important thing to know? That you should have a point. So many of these emails neglect the basic aspect of business development—offer something of value for a known pain point. And to do that you have to work towards a point. You maybe have 10 seconds to do that, so if you have one—and that’s a big if today—you need to get to it. Quickly.

Communication is an art. From telling a story at a dinner party (remember those?) to selling something, the starting and end points are the same. You are starting with an audience; you are ending with a reaction or behavior you hope to elicit from that audience. The art—the fun stuff—is what happens in between.

The problem is, today, too many people are just wrapped up in the fun stuff, ignoring the part that actually matters to the reader: having a point.

Bold thinking.

I mentioned my friend Kevin Bachman in the last CE blog—he sent me that great read on the coming turnover tsunami. He also recently sent me a great read called The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. (I guess I owe my friend Kevin a bottle of his favorite whiskey.)

The book is a different type of business read. I’m about halfway through and would definitely recommend it. It references why bold thinking is so important, classifying failure and invention as siblings because one so often plays off the other. And usually what drives the invention—that is ultimately tested—is bold thinking.

One example of this is Amazon’s floating warehouses idea. I had completely forgotten about that … mainly because it happened prior to 2020, and anything prior to 2020 is a little fuzzy. But according to legend, they applied—and received a patent for Aerial Fulfillment Centers—back in 2018 A.D. As I went back and read more about it, I realized that type of thinking is a commitment. One we can’t be afraid to make ourselves.

As leaders of organizations, we are responsible for finding the quiet time to really dig in and think through the ideas that can give our companies an advantage—any idea. Big. Scary. Crazy. Uncomfortable. Bold.

Have you come up with any ‘floating warehouses’ ideas lately? Is it because you can’t? Or because you haven’t prioritized that type of thinking? What would it do for your company if you did?