Ever sat down to write a piece of content, only to be inflicted by a severe case of mental blankness as the content monster turns you into a petrified mess?
This monster preys on its unsuspecting victims by stupifying us into paralysis and hypnotism.
So before you know it, 5, 10 or even 15 minutes blink by and you’re still wondering what the hell you’re going to say, with the only button you keep coming back to being ‘backspace’.
You know what I’m talking about.
And so does this alley-oop subscriber, who writes in:
“Keen for the email edition of the newsletter mate. Will you go over a structure for writing emails? That has always been where I get stuck. I’m sure you probably don’t have this problem but I never know what to say! If you weren’t planning on a template or formula for email writing, I’d love to get one from you!”
First things first, I know that feeling. The content monster has visited me, too and I have felt the vortex of the blank page staring back at me.
When it comes to emails, there is nothing more deflating than writer’s block, and it’s known to have taken the wind out of the sails of even the most seasoned marketers… so we shouldn’t expect anything different.
I promise you; there have been many times when I’ve wondered, “what am I going to talk about today?”
It’s during those times of mental blankness, that I’ve always found success with a specific carnivorous formula that my Vegan friends (if I had any), would love to hate.
It’s called “Meat, Bone and Menu”, and it’s my go-to formula for crushing writer’s block like a foot to an ant.
It has saved me many a time and I’m confident it will work for you too.
Here’s how it works.
Every email (or piece of content for that matter) only needs to have three elements.
The first (and most important), is “Meat.”
It’s the hook, the angle, the story, the hot button, or the topical content that will lock your reader’s jaws wide open ready to gnaw into whatever it is you’re saying.
Every piece of content must start this way.
Now, this can ruffle the purist’s feathers a bit (the types that think that clickbaity titles are the devil and a stain on the industry). And to a degree, I agree because I’ve seen some damn cringe-worthy ones in my time.
But not having “Meat” is like damning your piece of content to the darkest parts of the internet where it swims around with every other piece of content that no one ever cared about.
When you avoid this step, you do not pass go, you do not collect $200, and you go straight to Jail.
That’s why I put a lot of effort into cooking the “Meat” just right, so it melts off the bone.
Take this subject line, for example:
“Vegans will hate this marketing formula.”
It works perfectly as a hook because:
1) Everyone wants to know what vegans and marketing have in common
2) Vegans are a hot-button topic
This sparks curiosity, which is one of the tenets of good hooks.
(In this month’s edition of the Alley-Oop newsletter, I’ll go over all of these in great detail, so you’ll be filled to the brim with ideas).
But safe to say, every email needs a hook.
After the “Meat”, is the “Bone.”
It’s the moral of the story.
Just like a dog, the bone is what you take away and bury in the memory bank.
It’s what you ‘use.’
Lessons can be anything you’re a subject matter expert on, so the world is your oyster here.
In this example, the formula is the “Bone”.
Finally comes the “Menu.”
This is where most of us go wrong.
We don’t allow the reader to continue to consume.
That’s where the Menu comes in.
Every email and piece of content should allow the reader to get more of what they want.
So please give it to them.
Have a menu of choices — perhaps it’s a gift or, an opportunity to buy a product you offer, or an invitation to talk to you personally to see how you could help.
Whatever else you can give them, the Menu is where you should tell them about it.
Consumption is the asset in the attention economy (you probably already know that, right?)
And if you’re not sure where to put the Menu, you can always use a tactic I rely on heavily and you’ve probably seen me use before. Just put it in the P.S. — after all, it’s the third most read part of an email (after the subject line and lead at the start).
I’ll give you an example down below.
That’s all for now.
– Karl Goodman