Give Your Emails a Friend Check

Earlier I wrote about the “busy sidewalk test” as the easiest way to check out your outreach emails for brevity and simplicity.

But even when walking down a busy sidewalk, it can be hard to notice if the words you’ve written contain some accidental tones or nuance. After all, they’re your words! You’re familiar with them; you have the context in which they were written. Your audience doesn’t.

So now it’s time to phone a friend. Or, er, email a friend.

  • “But my friend isn’t part of my target market!”
  • “But I don’t have any personal friends who have the problem I’m trying to solve!”
  • “The only people I know who know about this industry are other people in my company!”

Doesn’t matter. This is a very simple favor to ask.

Simply email or text a friend and say “I’m about to send you an email. When you read it, pretend it’s not from me but from someone you don’t know.”

Then send your email to your friend.

Then ask your friend these questions:

  • Were you unclear on what the email was asking you to do?
  • Did it sound sketchy or spammy in any way?
  • Did it sound like the email was maybe trying to sell you something?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, you have some rewriting to do.

(Note: writing effective outreach emails is hard, and for many folks, it can feel like “it’s taken me hours to write this email, how much longer is customer development going to take? maybe I should just give this up and crank out some code.” Don’t give up! It does take a while to get your email style working effectively for you. But once you do have a good email, it’s a template that you can adapt and reuse for years.)