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Show & Tell: Analyzing the best and worst outreach examples

Show & Tell: Analyzing the best and worst outreach examples

If you’re not spending your Fridays listening to The Customer Engagement Lab, then you’re doing Fridays all wrong. What could you possibly be doing on Friday that’s more important than listening to our podcast?

Episode 1 was a particularly good one. Patrick and Travis talked about why LinkedIn is such a cringefest, and then played a game of Show and Tell. 

What’s Show and Tell, you ask? It’s where Patrick and Travis unpack examples of good, bad, and just plain ugly outreach. It could be a cold email, a marketing campaign, whatever they feel like showing and telling. And in true Travis and Patrick fashion, they just kind of riff on it.

Keep reading or give the episode a listen to learn how to make sure your outreach always lands in the first category. 

Let’s start where they begin. 

Exhibit 1: Why in the world is LinkedIn such a cringefest?!

The article Travis picked for Show & Tell dug into why LinkedIn is such a cringefest, and how the algorithm helps bad content go viral. 

Key points: 

  • LinkedIn’s algorithm supports bad content. Not-so-pro tip? Post a failure story. Post a hero story. Humble-brag. Be sure to write in short, choppy sentences and leave lots of spaces in between lines. End with ‘Agree?’. 
  • Algorithms don’t know how to optimize for quality on their own, they need human intervention. Win major internet points by posting a completely irrelevant attractive photo. Who cares if it has nothing to do with the purpose of the platform?!
  • There’s a lot of bulls**t content on LinkedIn. Be careful how you engage with it. Or else, you might look just as dumb as the post. 

Travis brought up a good point,

“I do find LinkedIn to be kind of like the redheaded stepchild of social media that just gets picked on by Instagram and Twitter, you know, real social media.” 

Travis Tyler quote

Patrick agreed, kind of. 

“Bro, let me tell you a story.

One day, I was a hiring manager and there was an employee that came in and they were interviewing for our new role. And they had just been completely splashed by a puddle. A car drove by and splashed them. It was raining outside and they ran here. And my boss said, “We can’t interview this man. He’s soggy. We can’t.” I said, “Boss, we have to interview the man. We are HR. And we will believe in the spirit of our employees and our future employees.”

Agree?

That’s what we’ve come to on LinkedIn.

Everyone has probably seen that post. Every major HR person, in general, has posted that same story. I’m not sure how many wet men are just running around trying to get jobs in your city, but it’s strange. And it’s become this place where we just try to tell this inspiring story that just goes to the lowest common denominator. I see LinkedIn as the terrible corporate elevator pop music of social media.”

The takeaway: Call out the elephant in the room. Don’t be afraid to put content out there that nobody’s talking about, but everyone can relate to. 

Call out the elephant in the room.

Exhibit 2: Get the F*** out of your comfort zone. 

Especially if you’re in Sales. 

Patrick’s pick highlights a quote you’ve probably heard before. It’s that good. 

The poster, Andy Paul, quotes himself, which Patrick says is a bold move: “Well-behaved salespeople rarely make history”. 

Andy Paul then adds “Take a risk. Break the damn rules.” 

Andy Paul's quote

Patrick picked this because it follows his ethos of doing the opposite of what you think you should do. “Selling is unnatural. So you have to do the opposite of what your natural instincts are. If you think you should do something as an impulse, you’re actually wrong in Sales a lot of the time.”

Sales has nothing to do with our typical evolutionary drivers: mating, eating, hydrating, and sheltering. It’s this unique field we’ve kind of forced ourselves into, so to be successful you need to be bold and break the rules of polite society. 
The takeaway: Success in Sales favors the bold. Listen to your gut. Then do the opposite.

Exhibit 3: Don’t be ‘that guy’ 

Travis received the following message on LinkedIn:

Travis reached out to Foti, and now they’re working together, building a win-win relationship. 

Hear Patrick’s thoughts on the above message: 

  • “Cut down on the jargon. If you’re selling something specific, explain the value of the offer in a way your recipient will understand.” 
  • “There’s a list here. I don’t love lists or bullet points in an email. It seems like those typical webinar recap emails.”

The takeaway: Straightforwardness is great, but make sure it doesn’t come at the expense of confusing jargon or overused content (i.e. bullet points). Also, never forget to highlight the specific value of your offer. 

Exhibit 4:  This is a cold email. 

Patrick shares a similar piece of outreach he received: 

“Patrick, 

I’m a sales rep. This is a cold email. 

I totally understand why sales leaders like yourself delete these faster than I delete the spam emails asking me for ‘financial assistance’.” 

This email had a similar opener to the one Travis shared. It’s becoming somewhat of a common trope now in Sales emails where they just point out that it’s a Sales email. 

Patrick’s thoughts?

“I like it. I think it works. It’s straightforward. It’s empathy.”

Patrick Downs' quote

Exhibit 5: A recipe for seduction.

Yes, you read that right. 

Full movie here

KFC partnered with Lifetime to make an original movie. 

If you didn’t know, Patrick is a not-so-secret fan of trash TV, namely Riverdale and Gossip Girl. So, naturally, he loves this. 

“I love that I’m seeing content marketing doing trash TV. I’m surprised it took this long, to be honest.”

Patrick Downs
Patrick Downs' quote

The takeaway: It’s better to swing big and miss than to never swing at all. Boldness attracts attention. For B2C brands, that’s lifeblood. 

Exhibit 6: That’s not my name. 

Travis and Patrick took their outreach analysis to Mikita Mikado, PandaDoc’s CEO. 

As someone who receives a ton of outreach messages, he had a few great examples to share. 

First was a story of being called the very, very wrong name. 

“One guy has been calling me Donald for about two months in more than eight emails. And even though once I responded saying that’s not my name, he still continued on with the same email outreach to the same email address.

I don’t know what it was. Maybe he’s been watching a lot of news lately and that name kind of stuck in his head. But that’s not my name. Not even close.”

Mikita Mikado's quote

Despite the fact that some salespeople use calling someone the wrong name as a tactic to get attention, Patrick thinks it’s pretty weird. 

The takeaway: Be bold. Break the rules. But, get your prospects’ names right. Unless you want to look like you don’t know how to use mail merge. 

Exhibit 7: Keep it relevant. 

Relevance in outreach messages is key. It’s a waste of time to pitch someone on a tool they don’t even need. Especially a CEO. 

“The types of outreach that I typically get via email or on LinkedIn fall into the following categories: recruiting services, software development, or software that’s irrelevant to what I do… Despite the fact that I don’t do any one of those things, I probably get 20 to 50 emails, messages, or phone calls a day.”

Mikita Mikado

The takeaway: Make sure your outreach message is relevant to what the prospect needs. 

Exhibit 8: Bring in the puppets. 

We saved the best for last. 

Mikita shares the one good outreach message he got, that despite not being relevant, he still remembers to this day. 

“I got this video, I don’t remember the product or service, quite frankly, they were not relevant, but the pitch was pretty awesome and I actually liked it and responded.

It was this guy with a heavy Chilean accent, hugging and pushing a Panda bear and trying to basically make this Panda talk. So I was getting an outreach from this plush Panda who he was hugging and the Panda was trying to sell me something. It was really funny.”

Mikita Mikado's quote

“So even though I didn’t really need whatever he was selling, I watched the video thoroughly, chuckled, and got back to him. This actually happened to me more than a year ago.

And I still remember. I still remember the guy.”

We’ve never heard of somebody doing puppetry to get somebody’s attention. That’s a new one. 

The takeaway: When in doubt, bring in the puppets. Never underestimate the value of high-quality entertainment. 

Haven’t been following the Customer Engagement Lab? You’re missing out. Go give it a listen

Bethany Fagan

Bethany Fagan Senior Manager, Content Marketing at PandaDoc

Bethany is the Senior Manager, Content Marketing at PandaDoc. She has over 10 years in the sales and marketing industry and loves crafting new stories and discovering new content distribution channels. Outside of the office, she spends her time reading, working out at Orangetheory or trying a new Brooklyn brewery with her husband and two French Bulldogs, Tater Tot and Pork Chop.