Ben Settle

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File under: Email Marketing

Let’s talk about the flick “Used Cars”.

It starred Kurt Russell as a shady used car salesman (complete with a plaid suit and everything) who used shady tricks to sell cars. In one scene, a guy is looking at cars across the street, at the rival car dealership. So Russell puts $5 on a fishing pole and “casts” it into the lot, right next to the guy. The guy sees it and bends over to pick it up. As he gets closer, Russell reels the $5 bill away, with the guy thinking it’s the wind. The guy then chases it across the street to Russell’s dealership, so he can try to sell him a car.

Anyway, here’s the point:

It’s not unlike a lot of today’s shady online media and email tricks.

Like, for example, putting “re:” or “fwd” in the subject line to make it look like it’s a reply of forwarded by a friend (in a broadcast/list email which is not Can-Spam compliant, the way I understand it) or “sent from my iPhone” at the bottom of a broadcast email that has an opt out link below it, tends to get negative reactions, or simply ignored (with the rest of your emails) by people who know what you’re up to.

Ever read Gary Halbert’s “The Boron Letters”?

There’s a part where he talks about ads with headlines that say something like:



“A submarine that can fly?”

Only to be about life insurance or whatever.

It’s the online equivalent of the used car salesman with the fishing pole.

It’s dorky.

It’s short sighted.

And, it slowly (or quickly) destroys trust.

Yes, I know it supposedly “works.”

But, like the founding father of Internet marketing Ken McCarthy once said: Trust is like a light switch. And once it’s turned off, it’s all but impossible to turn that light back on. And it only takes one time that insults your reader’s intelligence to flip it off.

Anyway, I’m mostly preaching to the choir here.

But, maybe someone needed to hear it before doing something stewpid.

If you want to learn how to write subject lines and emails that get eagerly opened, clicked, and (most importantly) bought from, with no idiotic tricks necessary… then check out my “Email Players” newsletter right here:

Ben Settle

  • Novelist
  • Anti-professional
  • Author
  • Email Specialist

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