But what if my message is important?! Put it this way, if it’s not important, then you shouldn’t send the message at all! Every message that is delivered needs to be important. And here’s the key… important to the audience of which the message will be delivered. Unless you’re toothpaste or toilet paper, you’re not everything to everyone. Here are four reasons why not to use the word “important” in your subject line, and some tips on how you can make your point, much more effectively:
It cheapens your other messages
One message says “important”, the next one doesn’t. That provides an opt-out for your audience to skip your non-important messages and only read the ones that actually say “important” in the subject line. At that point, you’re in a catch 22 of needing to add “important” to every message. That’s what happened to so many shopping establishments with the word “sale.” Today, most people won’t shop without seeing the sale sign, therefore the stores must have a sale for every holiday, weekend, weekday, and full moon.
TIP: Every message you deliver needs to be worth the read. No need to use the word “important”; just ensure the content of the message is.
Your message means the world to you. It’s big news to you, so you must add the word “important” to your subject line. At this point, you’ve elevated your message beyond all others. Now your audience is expecting big things, and most of the time to them, your message lacks luster. I’ve seen subject lines listed as “important message” that featured content about a small side parking lot closure, a fifth reminder note to take a survey, and even one stating that potted plants need not be moved around the organization.
TIP: Most people love to be the first to know, surprises, to be part of the ‘in’ crowd – so when you can include that type of information, do it. And please only send your message to the smallest audience that needs to know; most of the time, that’s not the entire organization or all of the folks that feel the warmth of the sun each day.
It’s lazy writing
“Really, that’s the best you could come up with?” That’s what I say to myself after I’ve written something. I like to challenge myself to be better than average, to deliver only content that matters. After all, it has my name on it. The intent of a subject line is to attract attention and get your audience to read further. And individuals can’t read further if they don’t open your email. In fact, 47% of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based on subject line alone, according to Hubspot Marketing. Let that sink in, one in two people choose whether to read what you’ve written based ONLY on the subject line.
TIP: Take your time writing your message, be brief, use powerful words that convey your point, and read it out loud before you send it. And I like to write the subject line last. Many times, when I’m done writing the article, the subject line pops out quite clearly for me.
You can’t top it
It’s human nature to strive for better. And that’s good… to a point. If I’ve elevated my previous article’s subject line to say “important.” What’s the next one going to say – “spectacularly significant?” It becomes overkill. It’s like I continually take a dragster to a pinewood derby or whiskey to the water cooler. Ok, the last one may be fine in certain situations. I’ve asked many people in business – “when you get an email, what’s most important to you?” Many times they say, “Just tell me what you want me to do.” Subject lines don’t have to be crazily creative or provide a “wow” factor every time, they just need to be relevant to your content and connect with your audience.
TIP: Don’t pull the bait and switch with FREE COOKIES when there aren’t any. Your subject line needs to be consistent with your message. You can certainly have fun and get creative - as long as it’s on point and attracts your audience to open your message and read further.
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why 'interesting' matters
Being boring is one of my greatest fears. I mean, besides being eaten by an animal, clowns, or falling down the stairs. Boring scares me. Boringness to me is a bump-on-a-log type thing - nothingness, uselessness, turd-like.
I’ve always been terrified if I live an extensively boring life for 50, 70, 90 years, then I would have been a wasteland of existence. Or worse, I may have brought down others along the way. It’s not that I need to jump up and down and shoot off firecrackers every day, but I certainly don’t want to be the catalyst for waste-of-time business meetings, palpable yawning, or flagrant nod-offs. Therefore, I pay attention to it.
I pay attention to it because I want my life to be stimulating and because it makes others’ lives more invigorating. At times, my job in communications takes me to areas that may not be interesting to some – it’s my job to turn that around. And frankly, I enjoy turning the boring into the interesting!
Here’s why being interesting matters, personally and in business…
It’s been proven to increase purchases. Well you say, so do items that also feature pretty girls, puppies, and the word “you.” Yes, they do, because they are more interesting with those added features - sometimes even more interesting than the item itself! Let’s review a product that used ‘interesting’ to increase sales – how about beer.
According to USA Today, the Most Interesting Man in the World has increased sales of Dos Equis nearly 35% during the nine-year campaign. These are shockingly high numbers for any beer, and even more so when you consider the poor state of mass-market beer against craft breweries. The art of selling taps into our emotions, our wants and our likes, and pulls us closer. Interesting things are equivalent.
We learn something.
Uninteresting people learn little. Why? Because they are nauseatingly predictable, they watch too much TV and only the most popular TV programs, they eat the same foods over and over, they talk about the weather, they read from sources that always are on point with their beliefs, they repel us with too many examples to prove their point – wait…what?
Interesting people learn much. Why? Because they are adventurists, they ask deeper questions, they tell their stories, and they are always searching for knowledge. Dale Carnegie famously said, “To be interesting, be interested.” A study published in 2010 in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that people who engaged in a debate with a partner online rated the partner more favorably if they received a question from that partner, as opposed to participants whose partners asked no questions regarding their viewpoint.
It stimulates our mind.
New York Times best-selling author and developmental molecular biologist, John Medina, discovered that the brain has a very short attention span. It took us how long to figure this out? Thanks, John, for finally making it official. Our brains are attracted to intriguing, interesting, engaging people and things. Storytelling is a powerful way to move the mind. The human brain is stimulated by stories, and according to an infographic by OneSpot’s “The Science of Storytelling”, 92% of customers want brands to produce content that feels more like a story.
Boring is dreadful.
Boredom is generally viewed as an unpleasant emotional state in which the individual feels a pervasive lack of interest in and difficulty concentrating on the current activity. Psychology Today tells us that boredom is a universal experience. Almost everyone suffers from it during their lives. Boredom is predictive of loneliness, anger, sadness, and worry. Boredom is such a motivating force that people do all kinds of things to ease the pain. The chronically bored are at higher risk for drug addiction, alcoholism, and compulsive gambling.
The Lazy Law states: “The lazier you are, the less interesting you will be.” The opposite of ‘lazy’ is ‘energetic.’ Even the word itself is more interesting to say! Therefore – may I have your attention people who wish to be more interesting – let’s get off our duff and ‘be interested.’
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What Bacon has taught me
Besides being delicious, I’ve learned some deep life lessons from bacon over the years. Although I’ve narrowed it down to just five, there are many more. Why do I know this? Because it’s bacon! It’s hot and its popular. So popular, in fact, that in a survey conducted by Smithfield, 65% of Americans would support bacon as their "national food." Personally, I think the percentage is higher.
So, bacon, what say you?
In sociology, taste is an individual's personal and cultural patterns of choice and preference. Taste is drawing distinctions between things such as styles and manners, and relating to these. Social inquiry of taste is about the human ability to judge what is beautiful, good, and proper. Like golden-brown cooked bacon.
Beautiful, good, and proper. I like those words in respect to taste and so I have chosen to aim for having taste in many areas of my life. I started with my shoes. I bought some nice ones for working, hiking and playing. I keep them shined or cleaned and I care for the soles. The soles are like the tread of a tire. Keeps you from slipping, so to speak.
Bottom line: Bacon has taste. So should we.
Mix well with others.
During our waking hours, most of us eat some sort of breakfast, lunch and dinner. And if we’re lucky, we squeeze in a tasty dessert. Bacon does the same. It shows up and pairs quite nicely with its associates for every meal - bacon and eggs, bacon bits in salad, bacon-wrapped steak and even the savory bacon-maple cupcakes.
Notice in each example, bacon comes first on the billing! Bacon even took it a step further with two cohorts and created a name for himself – bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. And Americans love bacon; we eat almost 18 pounds of bacon a year. You’ll find bacon all over town mingling with people from all walks of life, making them smile. As we should. After all, if we want to be loved like bacon, healthy relationships are one proven key to happiness.
One of my all-time favorite smells… freshly baked bread. Ha! Yes, bacon, of course. Bacon continues to reign as a top-five favorite scent of all-time, in polls across the world. In following bacon’s lead, we should smell good as well. This goes for both body and breath.
Women seem to have mastered this one. Most women smell nice all-day long. Thank you, ladies. A few reasons for this is because they layer complimentary fragrances in lotions, oils and perfumes, they know when and where to apply it, they keep their skin hydrated, and so on. Not much to say to women at this point, but men…
Men, let’s just please get rid of the stench with a pleasant or non-scented deodorant, a light touch of some smart cologne and some mints or mouthwash throughout the day, because coffee = good; coffee breath = bad. And when we work hard, we sweat, even in the office. And it shows… and smells.
Pleasant scents work well in business in all sorts of ways. For instance, if we’re selling a house, let’s cook bacon and let the aroma fill the rooms! Some realtors bake chocolate chip cookies for a nice fragrance. Personally, I’d purchase a bacon-scented home over one with the smell of warmed-over dough any day of the week.
Be open and available.
Yes, we’ve all seen it. Bacon shares itself with us in the display section of its packaging. We know just how much meat and fat is involved. Not to mention the printed package where we’re exposed to the salt content among other non-pronounceable words. Frankly, that’s what most of us like to see, transparency.
I’m not saying we expose ourselves. What I am saying is we need to be open, authentic and approachable. In business according to Inc. Magazine, authenticity is one of the traits of the most successful people.
Being available is also important in business and friendship. Let’s have an open-door policy, as they say, and share our experiences with friends and business partners. These are two more identifiers of successful and respected people. Bacon does this well. According to market researcher, Technomic, about 80 percent of the top-500 restaurant chains have some sort of bacon item on the menu. Bacon is a mover and a shaker.
That’s right, let’s be unique and bold. In today’s world there are thousands of messages per day that cross our paths. To be successful, we need to differentiate ourselves in our jobs, our relationships, our cooking, and our extracurricular adventures, to name a few. We need to set ourselves apart from the chaos and clutter. Boldness has lent notice to companies like Nike in its “Just do it” campaign, in Amazon with broadening into food space and drone delivery, and in Southwest Airlines with its fun and personable approach to air travel. So, let’s go out there and hit it.
Bacon is a leader in this area. Across the entire pork category, Nielsen research shows bacon was the only area seeing significant growth in the 52-week period ending in April 2017. In other words, bacon was doing better than its competitors - fresh pork, luncheon meats and sausages.
What’s more, a University of North Carolina study said a micronutrient in bacon, called choline, is essential to healthy brain development for babies in the womb. Choline contributes to the development of the parts of the brain associated with recall and memory. So, there we go… bacon makes us smarter!
And to my friends that are, dare-I-say, non-bacon fans… there’s always coffee. But that’s another post.
Thanks bacon. I love you even more now.
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