[Email of the Week #43]: Seth Godin

By Chris Orzechowski

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Seven years ago, I walked into the Old Bridge Public Library looking for business books.

I made the decision that I was going to figure out how to start a business on the internet.

I had no idea what I was doing. But I knew if I read enough books and did enough research, eventually… I’d figure it all out.

I remember checking out a stack of books. One of the books in that stack was Seth Godin’s Purple Cow.

I read it.

Shrugged.

And thought to myself… “eh, that was OK.”

I look back at this and laugh.

I was so young, dumb, and naive.

At that time, I was really into copywriting books – and I was HUNGRY to get my hands on any kind of copy instruction I could find.

So, when I read a REAL business book like Seth’s Purple Cow… it was like a normie drinking a bottle of Château Lafite Rothschild.

I didn’t even know what I was tasting.

I couldn’t appreciate the lessons in that book because I wasn’t at a place in my business career to absorb the full impact of that book.

Once I actually got my copywriting business off the ground, and I started to get clients… I found myself coming back to Seth’s books over and over again. I’ve read at least 10 of them, and it’s one of my goals to read all 18 at some point.

Here’s why:

I believe Seth is one of the most important people in the world.

Yes, people.

He’s not just an author.

He’s a change maker.

He’s an artist.

Sure, the ideas in his books have had a profound impact on my own business and life. But on top of that, the things I’ve learned by observing his behavior have been even more impactful.

Seth has been writing a daily email for over twenty years. I could be wrong, but I don’t think he’s missed a day.

When you do the same thing every day 7,000+ times in a row.. you tend to get pretty fucking good at it.

There’s a REASON Seth is probably one of the best selling business authors of all time.

(Hint: success leaves clues.)

Here’s more:

Idk if I was the first person to coin the term Godin’s Law, but I define this as Seth’s law of averages.

He’s said:

“Half the content you write will be below average. Half of it will be above average. That’s just how averages work. So if you want more above average content… just write more content.”

As someone who puts out more free content than anyone in the copywriting industry, I must agree.

I’ve learned that some days… you’re gonna get up and write shit.

You’ll be spittin’ dust.

But…

You still get up and write.

Writers write.

Every day.

You gotta get up and write like the rent is due.

True artists aren’t weekend warriors.

Trust artists get antsy if they’re away from their paintbrushes for too long.

True artists will wake up at 4:00am the second to last day of their honeymoon, go outside on the porch, and have 15 FULL pages of copy spill out onto the pad they found on their hotel room’s dresser.

Seth is a true artist.

That’s why he’s one of my personal heroes.

At some point, I knew it’d come time to break down one of his emails here as an Email of the Week.

I’ve actually been sitting on this one for about a year.

I had to wait of the right time to unleash it.

I haven’t read ALL of Seth’s 7,000+ emails/blog posts.

But the one I’m about to break down here is the one I love most.

So…

Without further ado…

Let’s take a look at the Email of the Week!

This is the 43rd installment of my Email of the Week series. (Catch up on previous episodes here.)

And in case you’re new around here, here’s how this all works…

The Rules For Email Of The Week

Each week, I go out into the wild to find a super-effective e-commerce marketing email… and I break down what made it work. My goal is for you to tune in each week, so I can teach you strategies and best practices YOU can use to make your own emails better.

I find these emails in my inbox, but I also accept suggestions from readers who have a remarkable email they’d like to share.

If you recently received an email that was so awesome it made your jaw drop, I wanna see it.

Forward it to me (chris at theemailcopywriter dot com) with a brief message about what you liked about it. If I choose to do a breakdown of the email you sent, I’ll give you a shout out and link to your site.

The only rule is… you can’t pick yourself.

Now then, without further ado, let’s check out the Email of the Week!

This Is (Email) Marketing

One of the things I love about Seth’s emails are his style.

There’s no header, no footer, no design. He literally uses the generic, standard Gmail font.

I love this.

Because, after all… emails should look like emails.

You’re not opting in for the design, you’re opting in the message.

And Seth’s emails prove this point.

Now, the email we’re going to look at today hit me right in the feels.

I mean…

It’s emotional.

It whisks you away on a journey.

The language is visual and visceral.

You feel like you’re walking next to Seth through this story… and you can see each moment unfold in your mind’s eye.

He makes a flawless transition to the ‘offer’ that’s so natural, you don’t feel like you’re being sold to.

I won’t keep nattering on.

This is a First-Ballot Hall of Fame email right here.

Let’s take a look…

 

 

So I’m going to ignore the style of the subject line. They all feature that Seth’s Blog titling convention.

‘Bread and Books’ on it’s own is intriguing enough, in typical Godin style.

Plus, with Seth’s consistency, it probably doesn’t even matter what he writes. Reading his emails are a habit. Opening them becomes automatic – regardless of the subject line. There’s a lesson in this.

Anyway…

I wanna get right into the body.

The first line of this email starts off with instant intrigue.

You’ll notice the time-place-tension formula on full display here.

Do you see WHY this is so effective?

You know the time.

You know WHERE the story is taking place.

And now you have a small hint at the tension that’s about to arise.

 

 

After the T-P-T opener, he begins utilizing dialogue.

One of the awesome things about dialogue is it FORCES you to zoom in on small moments.

Just look at how this story has unfolded with just 8 lines of text.

Seth is doing a masterful job of using nested loops.

He opens a loop, closes it… and immediately opens another one to pull you deeper and deeper into the story.

How do you stop reading now?

You can’t!

And why would you want to?

The stage is set.

You want to see the clash of the titans unfold. Who will win… the internationally recognized business leader… or the world’s most famous baker?

This truly is intriguing… even if it’s about an unbaked loaf of bread.

Of course, that’s just what’s happening on the surface level of the story. The real lesson is being implanted into your subconscious as you’re reading.

Let’s keep going…

 

 

Bread shared wasn’t bread lost.

Man…

When I read this, it hit me deep down inside.

In fact, if it wasn’t for THIS email and learning THIS lesson… Email of the Week might have never been a thing.

I bet you didn’t know that… did you?

Each week, I publish these breakdowns so people around the world can learn (for free) how to write better emails and connect with their tribe.

This is my version of sharing bread.

When I began this project, part of me was worried about “training my competition”… not unsimilar to how I imagine Lionel Poilâne might have felt at some point in his own career.

But again…

Bread shared is not bread lost.

If I filter this through the context of my own life, you can learn my methods… but you can’t be Chris Orzechowski.

If you filter this through your own life… you can teach other your methods… but no one can ever BE YOU more than YOU can be you.

If there’s one thing you get from reading me… I hope it’s this lesson.

Now, as you read through the copy, keep an eye on that last line of the this copy block.

The transition is subtle – and it happens so fast, you almost miss it.

 

 

Man…

This is the part that hurts.

Tugs on your heartstrings.

Look at how that first sentence makes you feel. Those words actually change your emotional state.

THAT is the true power of copy.

This email is a whirlwhind of emotions.

 

 

Look at the story arc of this email.

What’s amazing is… he’s taking you through years of memories in a matter of moments.

He’s NOT taking 4 seasons of television… or 600 pages of a novel to tell this story.

He’s doing this all within the confines of an email that’s no more than a few hundred words.

I mean… this is why he is a MASTER of email.

Simply amazing.

Anyway, let’s break down what’s happening in this final copy block…

The transition from the story leads here: to Apollonia’s book.

Now…

I’d imagine that Seth is probably not getting anything to promote this book. Obviously.

But imagine if you used this method of storytelling – pulling these small moment stories – out of your own life to use in your own emails.

Imagine the connection you could make with your readers.

Imagine the IMPACT you’d have on your customers and subscribers.

I mean… this email literally changed the course of my business.

The story, the lesson, the sentiment – it literally launched this project which attracted you here in the first place.

The Ratchet Keeps Turning

I want you to think about this chain of events, in case you haven’t connected the dots yet.

Seth goes to Poilâne and meets Lionel.

Seth writes Purple Cow as a dedication to their relationship.

I find this book, years later, on a bookshelf in the public library of my hometown.

As my career develops, I reread that book, gain a new appreciation for it and begin to publish.

I get this email from Seth, connecting all the dots for me.

I publish this article.

You read this article.

Now, YOU go out and cause a ruckus and do something to affect the culture.

The ratchet continues.

To borrow Seth’s own words one last time, just to punctuate this point…

“Bread shared isn’t bread lost.”

Go out and make a ruckus.

And thank you Seth, for the immeasurable impact you’ve had on my own life.

Big Takeaways from Seth Godin’s Bread & Books Email

  1. Open loops to pull your readers deep into the copy.
  2. The best transitions are seamless.
  3. Dialogue brings a story down to ground level.
  4. When you share dialogue, also share the thoughts and feelings you had in that moment.
  5. Begin with a story before you issue a CTA.
  6. Every story should implant a lesson in your reader’s brain.
  7. If you email every day, your subject lines matter less and less.
  8. Make your emails look like emails.
  9. Your aim is to move people emotionally. Do that, and you’ll never have a problem selling.
  10. You never know how your words will affect people. Treat them with great care.

What You Should Do Next

  1. Subscribe to my email list so you can get ALL of the Emails of the Week delivered straight to your inbox, automatically.
  2. Leave a comment for me below and let me know what you liked about this email.
  3. Get on Seth Godin’s list. And if you haven’t read his books yet… buy them all. I’m serious.
  4. Pick up Poilâne. Learn from the best in the world.

 

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7 Comments

  1. Aaron Hughes on July 16, 2020 at 3:44 pm

    A true masterpiece, and a fitting homage to Seth. Thanks Chris.

  2. Brian Smith on July 17, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Chris! I’m really getting into Seth Godin’s stuff as well. Fun I too bought Purple Cow a while ago and didn’t fully understand or appreciate Seth’s work until now. You, sir, are not too far behind yourself!

    • Rachel Augustine on July 21, 2020 at 7:34 pm

      This is a really inspiring read!

      Thank you, Chris!

      You make it so much easier to learn and grow.

  3. James E. Turner on July 17, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    Beautiful. I remember that email. I spent the rest of that day intermittently learning more about Poilâne, Apollonia, and sourdough. It changed the way I thought about things too. Thanks for this one, Chris.

  4. Carolynn Ananian on July 17, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Chris.

    Seth Godin is brilliant. He epitomizes that Da Vinci quote about how simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. The principles that really propel you to mastery are often simple.

    Most people still wanna skip over them and go straight to the “advanced” stuff though.

  5. Nicolas Anguiano on July 23, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    As I read the last line — “Go out and make a ruckus.” — every hair on the back of my neck stood up, and a weird surge of energy went up my spine.

    Felt like a “tribute” for a guy who isn’t dead… Which is how and when tributes should be done anyway. That is, when they’re still alive and can enjoy it. (I hope Seth reads this somehow.)

    Awesome “piece of bread” man.

    It’s good that it took you a while to make one of EOWs for Seth Godin, and that it was THIS. Anything else than a sort of “tribute” to The GOAT of Marketing wouldn’t have made justice.

    Keep it up.

  6. Nathan Ojaokomo on September 18, 2020 at 7:09 pm

    Great lessons here Chris. You do not suffer any loss when you share your knowledge.

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