Warming up those cold Emails

A growth hack for writers and other creatives

In the last couple of posts, we looked at some of the ways you can use a YouTube channel to reach out to potential customers. Well, that’s OK if you’ve got a tangible product to show off… and are naturally happy in front of the camera! But what if you’re a shy creative who doesn’t like to be filmed?

In this post, we’re going to introduce a high-value growth hack that requires nothing more sophisticated than an e-mail account, some imagination, and maybe a touch of empathy. In other words, it’s a natural choice for writers and artists.


“Cold selling is unnatural”

This hack forms part of a practice that has become known as ‘warm marketing’. Its predecessors go far back into history. In fact, you could even argue that ‘warm’ selling is the natural way of doing business, and that ‘cold’ sales are a recent aberration that causes unnecessary stress to both seller and prospect. (If you’re a creative who has had experience of cold calling, you’ll probably have a lot of sympathy with that viewpoint!)




Introducing ‘warm’ e-mailing

So, what exactly does ‘warm’ selling involve? As a rule of thumb, you take everything you know about cold selling, and do the opposite.

To see what I mean, drag something out of your ‘spam’ folder. A mailshot from a Chinese factory makes a better example than ‘Russian women seeking boyfriends’, but every cold e-mail works roughly the same way. Look for the following characteristics:

* It’s sent to many people (d’oh!)
* It’s impersonal
* It’s high-pressure
* It’s declarative

By contrast, then, we’d expect a warm e-mail to:

* Reach out to just a few individuals
* Be highly personalized
* Be low-pressure
* Invite discussion

Let’s convert those bullet points into a program for generating your own warm e-mail. If you like, you can try working out a rough as we proceed. When you’re done, you can compare your version with ours.


Four easy steps to warm e-mailing

#1: Shortlist your recipients
Forget about buying address lists! Instead, ask yourself who really needs your services… and which companies you’d like to work with. Be specific and detailed. If you’re only generating a handful of letters, you can afford to spend a couple of hours researching each one.

#2: Talk to a person, not a lead
More research! Identify the individual you want to reach out to, and address them by name. Discuss specific elements of their work, and make it clear that you know and appreciate it.

#3: No hard sell
By all means promote yourself, but do it gently. Give them one or two examples of projects you’ve undertaken that fit with their direction. Explain how your involvement could benefit them.

#4: Start a conversation
Rather than a call to action (CTA), offer real contact. Suggest times for a call, a Skype session or — best of all — a face-to-face.




Our example warm e-mail is right down below. It shows a small company which offers specialist movie production facilities reaching out to a famous animator. Some of the phrasing is a bit awkward, because we wrote exactly one paragraph for each of our four steps — to keep things nice and clear. Maybe you can come up with something slicker?


To: [email protected]
From: [email protected]
Subject: Intro: New traveling matte service for modelmakers

Dear Jane Doe,

I’m writing to introduce my company, StopMotionServices, Inc. I’m a little nervous about writing to you, because I’ve been aware of the work of Doe Models throughout my professional life! However, I believe that the specialist traveling matte service we’ve developed could make your work easier and support your creativity.

I enjoyed ‘Dancing with Dinosaurs’, the feature which marked the passing of the ‘Doe Models’ baton from your father to you. I particularly appreciated the final reel, with its amazing interchanges between animated characters and human actors. However, I winced when I read your ‘Variety’ interview, in which you said that you spent more than eight months working on less than ten minutes of film. That’s where I believe StopMotionServices can help.

During my work as an animation major at FAMU in Prague, I developed a computer program which uses artificial intelligence to interpolate travelling mattes from keyframes, and so speed up compositing processes by anything from three to five times. Last year, we put the system through its paces in two commercials made by the UK company Anteater Films for Roundleaf Foods’ ‘Cheekios’ breakfast cereal. These 30sec spots integrated live action and animation in an entirely novel way. (These weren’t released in the US, but you can view them on YouTube.) I think our system would be a shoe-in for Doe Models’ new direction.

I’d be pleased to discuss how we might be able to work together. I will be in West Hollywood during the last two weeks of September, and would be happy to visit you at your your studio. Otherwise, I’m available via Skype (captstopmo) and phone (067 889 6758) every Friday 1000–1500 EST.

I hope to hear from you!

Jacek Truvlas


Good luck with your warm e-mailing, and remember — if they accept your invitation for coffee, you’re buying!

Next time, we’ll be back in the land of high-tech growth hacks with a look at how new analytical techniques can give you an edge in building customer loyalty. Until then…