Charm Offensive

[Cold approaches that cut through the noise…]

This next post is by the one and only Jon Buchan, master of the Charm. Jon and I go back a few years when we attended an online course and got into one of those exclusive Facebook groups that there are so many of.

I love Jon’s lessons on writing as they are quite possibly the best thing on the internet. So go to his page and buy some of his material – it is gold – and it has worked for me.

Hello all,

Thank you, Rick, for the invite.

OK… If you need to book more sales meetings, this post is for you.

I’ve met with senior decision makers at RedBull, Pepsi, Symantec, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, Barclays and countless other global brands, exciting start-ups and regular ol’ SMEs.

I’ve used this same style to get senior editors at large publications to respond to me and publish my client’s content.

I’ve used it to help people get as many job interviews as they want – and to meet people I really look up to. I’ve recently used it to get booked on some podcasts too.

If you’d like to be able to write cold emails, or direct mail that cut through the noise and get responses like these, have a read… If you find it useful or have any questions, do comment below.

I’m not saying my way is the ONLY way – but it works for me.

OK – here goes nothing…


>> Impact -> Communication -> Persuasion

So many cold approaches suck because they go straight to persuasion.

The very first line starts with something like … “We’re the best people in the world at X… We’ve worked with X client and are ground-breaking X technology is a world’s first…”

YUCK! Of course, that gets deleted!

Your job is to sell the idea that a call or meeting with you is not a bad idea. Not to give every little detail – or to sell your entire offering in one go. Those steps come later…

Dave Trott talks about this when talking about effective advertising.

He brings it down to a level anyone can understand.

Imagine for a moment that you wanted your other half to make you a cup of tea or coffee.

You need first make impact.


That gets her attention.

The communication is next…

“Cath, will you make me a cup of tea?”

However, that’s not very persuasive.

“If you make me a cup of tea, I’ll take the trash out.”

The same rule applies to direct mail or cold email or any form of effective advertising.

You need to make impact first.

Then communicate.

Then persuade.

You need to stand out.

Your prospect likely gets a ton of other letters and emails (and cold calls) – and they all look and read the same.

You need to make IMPACT.

It’s the single most important thing you should focus on.

Without that, it doesn’t matter how good your communication is. It doesn’t matter how persuasive you are. It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is.

Most people think persuasion is the most important.

They focus on using specific words and formulas and forget you’re writing to a human.

You’re not trying to beat a machine at chess.

You need to get a reaction. A bite. A nod. A smile. A laugh.

You need people to actually see and read and listen before you can communicate and persuade.

Being able to get cut-through – especially if it’s done in a unique or clever way – is persuasive in itself.

Think about that.

The Warren Buffett Technique

>> Unusual honesty. Credibility.

People get so much crap in their email and in the post. You need to make your prospect switch gears.

We can learn something here from Warren Buffett. In his stock presentations, he starts with bad news.

Why would he do such a thing?

a) He gets the bad news out the way.
b) It’s the honest and correct thing to do.
c) Everything else he has to say has more credibility.

How can you do the do this in your cold approaches?

Five Things People Get Wrong When Cold Approaching


What most people get wrong… and what all of my successful approaches have in common.

Here is a list of 5 common things people get wrong with cold approaches…

1. They are full of ego
2. They try to impress with design or persuade with jargon
3. The rhythm and cadence are bland and boring
4. They make presumptions – This is common with ‘problem-solving’ type emails
5. They play it safe! (This is huge!)

You need to write captivating copy. From the subject line to the last line.

All of my successful approaches – from the absurd to the serious – have one thing in common.

They tell a story.

This is going to sound like pretentious fluff… but there is truth in here.

Why is a story important?

Think about it.

When did you last hear someone say “I saw a great PowerPoint presentation the other day”?

When did you last hear someone say “S/he told a great story”?

Do you have a compelling story that your prospect can be part of?

Or are you just going to write them a boring advertisement?

Are you writing as if you are speaking to one person individually?

Or are you rehashing key statistics, industry trends, and speaking in bullshit jargon?

One is compelling and interesting and entertaining.

The other is dull and boring and what everyone else is doing.

One of my key ‘stories’ I call “The Ambitious Underdog”.

What’s your story?

Are you writing something that your prospect can read and understand where you are coming from?

Will they want to be part of that story?

Will this break through the ‘us and them’ dynamic that normal sales emails reinforce?

Or will it raise the “sales alarm bells”?

A big part of this is making your intentions known.

It’s about pushing your ego aside.

It’s about taking a chance.

Sometimes this means using humour.

Sometimes this means letting your guard down and being more honest than is normal and expected.


Ok – a little bit on mindset…

I never had an issue with writing to serious and important and busy business people in an informal way.

I have the opposite problem. I can’t write with jargon. I can’t hard-sell. I can’t do the ‘serious and professional’ thing. At least, I find this more difficult.

It hasn’t been to my detriment.

Of course, you can’t be completely off the wall bonkers if it doesn’t match your personality and yes – there are circumstances where you may have to take a more serious tone.

But when everyone writes in the same cadence, you need to stand out.

Be daring. Try something different. You need to illicit a response. Make your prospect smile, or laugh or go “That’s clever”… or even “This person is different…”

It doesn’t matter whether someone is a CEO of a global brand or an intern at a start-up – they are all HUMAN! Dun dunn dunnn!

So don’t put them on a pedestal.

Show some personality.

What’s the worst that could happen?

They ignore your message?

That’s likely to happen anyway!

BUTTT maybe they will send an angry/mean response?!

You’re sending a cold email… you’re interrupting their day! That could happen anyway too!

So you may as well take a chance…

By being distinct – you’re going to get far more positive responses than blending in and being boring!

Whenever you get this particular fear, remember… “PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE!”


Ok. I hope that wasn’t too painful. I hope this post has got you thinking…

Feel free to join my group:

Stay outta trouble,


Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash