Thursday, April 13, 2017

Facing your Email Fears, or How NOT to Email a Craft Market

I don't know about you, but cold emailing people is my nightmare.  I can dance on stage, sing the national anthem in an arena full of strangers...but cold emailing someone is something I've REALLY had to force myself to practice.

If you're anything like me, the fear of sending that email comes from a jumble of emotions of wanting to look professional but not cold, friendly but not goofy, succinct but not curt, and informative but minus the verbal diarrhea. It's a delicate balance to be sure. So here are some tried and true nuggets to make the most out of that cold email!

1). NIKE aka Just Do It
Hurdle number one is grabbing your "beach ball sized lady nuts" (thanks Negan) and plunking down at the laptop to start.  I remember when I met the WONDERFUL Ally Matos of Allyfotografy and listening to her talk about reaching out to BIG NAMES (like, big!).  And she has such a wonderful philosophy about it.  If nothing happens, if they don't respond to you, you're actually no worse off than you were before sending that email. 
And she's right.  The worst that can happen is that you don't get an answer...ok cool.  I literally have to tell myself that when I step out of my comfort zone; the world will not end, I will not be swallowed up into a pit of oblivion, it will be ok.  Next!

2). Try to avoid "one-liner" emails aka don't ask "how much are tables?"
Now, I know I might have some push back on this one.  IF you are emailing/contacting a market organizer do not, I repeat DO NOT, write a one line email asking how much a table costs and leave it at that.  To a market organizer this proves that you, the vendor, have not gone to their website, Instagram, or Facebook, nor have you looked at the FAQ page (where incidentally A LOT of markets say in black & white how much their booths cost) and you're not interested in anything beyond your costs.  And I get it - we're all trying to be as profitable as possible.  BUT  I will also say that you get what you pay for.  This has been true in EVERY instance I've encountered it. When you pay a bit more in fees, you get a lot more because the organizer now has additional budget for advertising, printing, prizes, coffee, and a great venue.  Also you'd never do that in person - just walk up to someone, ask how much their jacket costs and then walk away?!?! Why would you do it in an email? lol  This is a perfect example of the the stuff we humans do because of the anonymity of the internet! If you wouldn't do it in person, don't do it online (man, that's a good life lesson!)

3). Tell me who you are!!!!!
This is one of those things I assume would be obvious....apparently not.  I have received WAY too many emails, sometimes with most of the information I need, but without people telling me who they are and how they found me!  Or people who are interested in applying for a market, but don't tell me the name of their business and what they make?!?! What do you want me to do with that lack of info? lol
Imagine someone knocking on your door, you answer and they just start spewing info at you and before you can get a word in they turn around and leave?  It's like Cinderella at the ball- the Prince has NO IDEA who she is! As a rule of thumb when I start an email, even to people who might know of me, I often start with "Hi My name is Leslie Kuny and I'm the Creator and Designer of West Coast Leslie Designs. If you're unfamiliar with my brand I create handmade, heirloom quality, modern designed, knitwear accessories for women."
See how easy that was? In TWO sentences I introduced myself, and told you who I am.  If I'm contacting them because they posted in a Facebook group, or maybe online somewhere, be sure to mention that! All you need is one additional sentence that says something like "I saw your post in the Shabadoo Goofball Facebook page" OR "I'm emailing you because I saw your post on the Awesomesauce Vendors webpage".  In the email I would also link my website or Facebook page to the name of my business to make it easy for the recipient to check out my online presence.  I'll tell you one thing, they DO NOT want to hunt you down online. Which brings me to.....

3 A). Show me who you are
This doesn't mean clog up someone's inbox with high-res photos when they didn't ask for them.  But for darns sakes would you PLEASE link your social media?!?! I think it's great that you make handmade, up-cycled, themed pillows that help kids with night terrors(is this a thing-maybe?), but where can I see your work? Link your social media feeds in the email!!  I can't tell you how many times Jill & I have had to go scrounging the internet for people and photos. (Again I reiterate, who are you?).  It's always helpful to imagine yourself on the other end of this interaction.  Would you want to spend extra time trying to hunt someone down and find their instagram account? Probably not, so why are you making someone else do your work for you? Plus there's a real easy way to NEVER forget to add in your social media links  - add your social media links to your signature. Pretty slick right? I know!

4). Do Your Research
Remember the last time you were chatting with a friend and they knew you were training for a marathon and were really excited for you? Yeah, that felt pretty great didn't it? Someone took an interest in you and that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Same thing goes for events.  So before shooting off a hasty email, go to the company's website, or Facebook page, or Instagram, or Twitter, or Pinterest, or LinkdIn, or Blog, or Youtube channel...or ANYTHING! 
Find out a little bit about who they are, what they stand for.  There is a lot of info on those websites (like costs, times, dates, names of important people, mission statements, values, etc). Knowing a bit about the person/company you are contacting makes a HUGE difference. It will set you apart from the other emails and it shows that you've taken an interest in what that company does.  We all want to feel valued for what we do, so taking the time to do a bit of research before hitting 'send' is well worth it.  

5). Say Thank you, be Polite, and be Patient
(sidebar was really hard finding a not sarcastic thank you gif - just putting that out there!)
Everyone is "busy".  Everyone is "important". Everyone has responsibilities, obligations, and priorities. You and the person you're emailing. So be sure to thank them for their time.  Think about your day.  How much of your day goes into reading and responding to much laptop rage do you experience in that time? lol A "thank you", or an "I appreciate your time" can go a long way.  Likewise you can't expect an immediate answer.  Things have really changed in the "internet age" and, let's admit it, in this time of instant messaging and texts we expect answers. Like NOW. Give them a solid three days.  I know - when you're expecting an answer you're basically that chick from Willy Wonka singing "don't care hooooowww, I want it nooowwww!"and then she falls down a chute or something.  Patience is a virtue, so try not to follow up too soon. You don't know what's happening on the other end.  Unfortunately the written word can be misconstrued (even in this blog post! I wish we had a keyboard for sarcasm), so constant follow up emails can be seen as impatient or worse, rude.  Now, that's not an excuse for anyone to let emails slide...but if you haven't heard back in a week, I'd say that's a fair amount of time to send a follow up.  And sadly sometimes you just won't hear back...and that's shitty. BUT see email tip #1

Again, with most of these "Tips & Tricks" the key take away is to put the shoe on the other foot.  Would you want to receive a cold email that has no pertinent information, that is curt, doesn't have a call to action (what do you want from me?), seems to know nothing about my business/brand, and doesn't say who it's from or what they do?  Who would reply to an email like that? And that's the last tip - write an email you'd want to receive. What information do they need to know?  What information do you want to know from them? Ask them for what you want. Be kind, and say thank you.  Follow that and you're golden.

Did I miss something that you ALWAYS make sure to do when emailing?  Let me know in the comments or get at me on Facebook

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