Monday, June 2, 2014

Use Humor When Following-Up

The art of the follow-up is one of the thorniest decisions we all make everyday. Questions abound. Have I given the other person enough time to respond? How do I communicate urgency without being rude? What’s the best subject line to use? Should I keep the message short, or should I recap things?

In an excellent presentation, HubSpot’s inbound marketing specialist, Michael Pici, reprints one of his best-performing emails. I’m publishing it here (with light edits) because it captures one of the timeless ways to elicit a response: through humor.

Should I stay or should I go?


While I’ve tried to reach you, I haven’t heard back and that tells me one of three things:

1. You’ve chosen another company to help you with online lead generation. If that’s the case, please let me know so I can stop bothering you.

2. You’re still interested but haven’t had the time to fully consider this yet.

3. You’ve fallen and can’t get up. In that case, let me know and I’ll call 911 for you.

Please let me know which one it is because I’m starting to worry…

Thanks in advance. I look forward to hearing from you.

Asked whether they received your message, most people will admit they did indeed; they just haven’t had a chance to process it yet. Fair enough.

But perhaps that’s because your email wasn’t memorable enough. Not only does Pici employ an stand-out subject line—“Should I stay or should I go?”—he also applies this deft touch to his body text.

To be sure, some may appreciate this style; to such a mentality, casualness can be a deal breaker. Yet for the client who “gets it,” irreverence is charm. And wouldn’t you rather work with people like yourself?

Addendum (1/17/2016): Here’s another excellent HubSpot presentation on the art of the follow-up. See also “How Following Up Can Help You Land the Job,” from the Muse.