August 2, 2010

The secret of change: just do it.

Recently, during an ad-hoc consulting session with a hotel company (not a Redpoint client), the general manager asked my advice on increasing the effectiveness of their email newsletter campaign.  After reviewing a few recent newsletters they’ve sent, he and I had a comical (to me) dialogue about next steps.  It went like this:

C:  Do you notice that the open rate increases depending on what’s included in the subject line?

GM:  We only put the date of the newsletter in the subject line.

C:  Oh!  So, that’s one simple place to start.  Getting people to open the email is the first step toward getting them to read the content.  Let’s look at creating a turnkey way to make each subject line more enticing.

GM:  Actually, we think that people would prefer to have the date in the subject line, so they can save and sort as needed.

C:  But if they’re not even opening them, they never get to the point where they’re saving and sorting.  Perhaps if we just add a tiny bit of color and substance to the subject line?  We could still keep the date in there if you wish.

GM:  Well, we’ve always done it this way, so it doesn’t make sense to change that format now.  People are used to it.

C:  Based on what you’re telling me, it seems like they’re just used to deleting the emails.  If you’d like to get them to open and read the newsletters, we’d need to make some changes to the way they’re receiving them.

GM:  What if we change the layout inside, and put the events calendar on the right, and add more photos at the top?

C:  That would be wonderful, but we still need to change the subject line in order for them to OPEN the emails and notice all those fabulous changes.

GM:  But then someone is going to have to come up with a new subject line each time, and the way it works now, it’s much easier for us to manage.  We just have a template and my assistant plugs in all the information.

And there it is…the root of resistance to change:  reluctance to do things differently. 

It astounds me that people don’t realize that if you want to bring about a change in result…you have to start with a change in your actions.  This premise holds true whether you’re trying to get people to open your email newsletter or trying to get your kids to clean their room unprompted (“how many times do I have to tell you…?”).

I guarantee that if you change your actions, you will change the result.  You may need to play with your formula to find the sweet spot you seek, but it will come. 

And yes, it will feel different, new, weird, or even uncomfortable.  That’s how you will know that you’re doing “change” right.  Keep your eye on the goal and just do it!