Episode #11 – Jay White on his Profit-Boosting “Water Cooler Talk” Email Strategy

by John McIntyre

Meet Jay White, the original autoresponder guy.

Jay has written emails for the biggest names in the business including Rich Schefren, Jeff Walker, Joel Comm, Steven Pierce and Jay Abraham.

If anyone understands how to profit from email, it’s Jay. He was the first person to market himself as an email expert and he does the story-selling email better than anyone.

In this episode, he breaks down his strategy into steps that you can execute on today.


In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • The #1 email marketing mistake that everyone mistakes (and how to avoid it like a ninja with a blackbelt)
  • Email engagement secrets from the original “Autoresponder Guy” (these are NOT what you’ll hear from the corporates)
  • The “water cooler talk” email strategy (and how Jay uses it to write gold rush campaigns for the top marketing names in the world)
  • How to find, use and profit from MILLIONS of email ideas that are staring you in the face right now
  • Jay’s “kinda like” framework for generating endless sales hooks (and how it works to illustrate your sales proposition)
  • How to fly under the radar with your sales emails (while making more sales than you’ll ever make with in-your-face sales emails)

Email Marketing Podcast Episode 1


Intro and outro backing music: Forever More by CREO

Raw transcript:

Speaker 1: As I was watching this, it got me thinking we could all use a Mr. Miyagi in our business, couldn’t we?
Hey, podcast listener. You’re about to discover insider tips, tricks, and secrets to making more sales and converting more prospects into customers with e-mail marketing. For more information about the e-mail marketing podcast or the Autoresponder Guy go to themcmethod.com/podcast.
Hey, everybody, it’s John McIntyre here, the Autoresponder Guy, and it’s time for the episode 11 of e-mail marketing podcast where we talk about the top tips, tricks, and secrets for making more sales and growing your revenue with e-mail marketing.
Today I’ll be talking to Jay White, the original Autoresponder Guy. Jay has written e-mails for the biggest names in the business including Rick Schefren, Jeff Walker, Joel Comm, Steve Pierce and Jay Abraham. He’s a really cool guy. I really enjoyed talking to him.
If any one understands how to profit from e-mail, it’s Jay. He was the first person to market himself as an e-mail expert. He does the story-selling e-mail. I talked about a lot of him on this podcast better than anyone I know.
In this episode, he breaks down his strategy into steps that you can execute on today. To get the show notes for this episode of the e-mail marketing podcast, as always go to themcmethod.com/ep11.
Before you get into that, we have another review. It’s five stars. Here it is. It’s from Market Share from Germany of all places. “John, I love your podcast. I listen to every episode sometimes twice. Detailed, advanced e-mail marketing strategy. One can learn so much about e-mail marketing and I especially like how much you focus on strategy instead of just tactics. Cheers, David Falla.”
Thanks for the review David. I totally agree. Strategy is so much more important than tactics. If you understand the strategy, you can plug in tactics as you please. Just kick ass like a ball. That’s the review. If you want to leave a review, go to your themcmethod.com/podcast follow the links. I’ll read out your review on the show. Remember to leave a link because if you do, I’ll be able to link to you, sign finish your notes and mention you on the show which would be really cool. Now, let’s take this party over to Jay White.
It’s John McIntyre, the Autoresponder Guy coming from the themcmethod.com e-mail marketing podcast. I’m here with Jay White who really is the original Autoresponder Guy. He’s been in the game for way longer I have. Probably everyone else from what I’ve heard. It’s great to have you here, Jay. How are you doing?
Jay: Thanks, John. I appreciate you having me, pal.
John: Cheers. We always get started by just asking the person to find out, tell us a little bit about who is Jay White and does Jay do?
Jay: I’ve been writing copies since the late ‘90s. I started writing short copy which moves right into e-mail and autoresponder thing. I started in radio, writing radio commercials. Then I moved into doing six, seven, eight years with the catalogue work. With catalogues, you’re pretty much under the gun. Here’s 50 words. Here’s 75 words. You got to sell this product.
I learned a lot about copywriting when I was working on catalogues. That’s basically where I cut my teeth. In the Director’s Funds Market Catalogue are our make or break thing. I wrote millions of words of copy. Then really developed my skills there and learned how to sell.
In 2006, I launched my own freelance company and started writing online for direct response marketers and marketers these kind of things, information products. I found that my skills translated very well into e-mail copy and autoresponder copy. A lot of the same principles I learned through catalogue. I was able to apply to e-mails and get the same good results.
I came right out of the shoot pretty quickly. I was able to gather people like Alex Mandossian and Joel Comm and Steven Peirce and Jeff Walker and Rich Schefren, a lot of the big name internet marketers at the time. I was able to call them friends and clients pretty quickly because of the way that my e-mails worked for them.
I was able to establish, like you said, I was the original Autoresponder Guy. In a way, I really was. Maybe I was one of the first ones to market myself as an e-mail and autoresponder, copywriter expert. Since then, things have been just going great guns for me.
John: That’s cool. Have you been a copywriter like way before in internet as well, like direct response copy. It’s great to get that perspective. I did go into copywriting after and this has been around for years. I have to go into copywriting the last year or two. It’s interesting to go back 10, 20 years and find out how someone else approaches it.
Today, me and Jay we’re just talking about what we could talk about. We decided we’ll focus on one of the big problems that Jay thinks people have when it comes to e-mail marketing which is most people don’t know how to engage with their readers. They say the wrong things or they say the right thing at the wrong time. What happens is people stop listening to their e-mails. They stop opening the e-mails. In the end, they don’t get the sales that they want.
We’re going to walk through that. Let’s talk about that first, Jay. Tell us more about this big problem that people have that they don’t engage. What’s going on here?
Jay: I found that in the past when even as little as 10 years ago, e-mail was still a novelty. When we got an e-mail, we would pretty much open it because it was cool. “Hey, we got an e-mail.” As time went on and marketers saw the advantages of marketing through e-mail and the low cost of reaching prospects and buyers, we started getting bombarded with more and more e-mails, which means everytime you open your inbox, there’s dozens if not hundreds of e-mail messages for you to go through. Many of them spam and what not. Still you’ve got a lot of things to look at every day.
You’ve got to as a marketer from a marketer standpoint, you have to find a way to get them to first of all, open the darn thing and then after they open it, to keep reading pass the first or second line. If you don’t engage them right away, then you lose them. The whole thing, everything that you’ve created in your e-mail, your wholesales, pitch or your whole relationship building, writing, it’s all gone.
I found that engaging them in using the proper techniques is key to getting somebody to stick with your e-mail and keep reading it, keep going to the next line, to the next line, to the next line until you finally get them to the place where you want them to make a decision which is clicking a link and going to another sales message.
John: You mentioned this, you have your own method that you go about to do this. What’s your method?
Jay: It’s interesting. I wish I had a patterned on it but I really don’t. It’s just something I just fell into. Really what it is it’s all based around the concept that I like to call Water Cooler Talk. When you think about it, I thought about, what is it that gets people engaged? What is it that gets people to what I like to call lean forward and crock in the ear and listen to somebody?
I thought about in the morning when you go to work, if you work in an office environment, you know everyone gathers around the coffee machine or the water cooler or whatever. They just talk about their morning or what happened last night or whatever. If somebody steps up to this group and they say, “I can’t believe what I saw coming to work today.” If somebody says something like that, everyone stops and everyone leans in and they give that person their attention, with that one statement.
I found that if you can start off e-mails or even in subject lines, if you can start off e-mails with statements like this that engage people right away that makes them lean in and listen, then you’re going to grab attention a lot quicker. You’re going to hold on to it a lot quicker.
There’s a lot more to it. That’s the crux of it right there is if you can start off a conversation like you’re just talking with people around the water cooler. Really all it is is, “Wow, I can’t believe what my daughter did last night.” “Did you see that thing on the news?” “I’m so mad I could spit nails.” When somebody says that, you stop and you go, “Why?”
I like to call it the National Inquirer Effect because it’s that people got to know thing. It’s human nature. We all have to know what the scoop is. We all have to know what the skinny is. That’s why the National Inquirer is right there at the checkout counter. Every week there’s something different and every week, people pick that thing up and buy it by the millions because they have the things on the front that are exactly like this.
People got to know what’s going on with this starlet and that starlet. It’s that same thing. I just happen to that in an e-mail format and try to slide through the e-mail using that same technique for engagement.
John: That’s a fantastic point. I’ve had clients come to me and they’ll say, “Look, we need some e-mails where we need you to take a look at our current e-mails.” They say stuff like, the first line of the e-mail will be, “I hope you’re enjoying this e-mail series.” It’s well-intended. Nice guy, right? No one’s going to read that and go, “I have to read this e-mail.” They’re going to like, “Who cares?”
People really need to understand that it’s like an attention economy you might call it that we have to be getting people’s attention. If we can’t get their attention and keep it, then everything else is a total waste of time.
Jay: Even after you get their attention with a statement like that, that makes them lean in, you have to keep it. Each line is very critical especially at the beginning to leading to the next one. What I like to do is maybe come in with a story or some two or three little paragraphs about something that I saw or the reason that I’m so mad that I can spit nails or the reason I can’t believe what I saw or the reason that I’m laughing so hard I can barely control myself.
When I start off with that statement, I have to follow it up with a statement of why. Here’s why. Then I like to somehow tie it in with a specific want, need, desire or a problem that that prospect is experiencing at that time and then position the product as the answer to that problem.
I know that sounds a little bit … maybe a lot of people are listening with a scratch in their head but that’s my method. It’s pulling them in with a good story and then transitioning into a want, need, desire or problem that they’re experiencing as a prospect or a buyer for a specific niche. Then positioning the product as the answer to that without really selling anything.
We are talking earlier and I don’t push people through my e-mail. I don’t shove them through my e-mails. I take them by the hand and I gently lead them down this little road. I show them things on each side. It’s just a gentle nudge more than a push. At the end of the road is the link. That’s the answer to their problem. The entire journey is predicated on that notion.
John: We’ll talk about that in a moment how to actually do the sales stuff. Now would be a great time to find out how do find stories? Where do you come up with these stories? How do you turn it into an opening statement?
Jay: That’s a good question. I like to pull stories from three different sources. I like to pull stories from the personal side of things. If I’m writing for a client, I like to find out some personal stories from them that can relate to a want, need, desire, problem that a prospect is experiencing.
I’ve written about my own kids. I’ve written about my wife, my family, school, friends, these kinds of things. Personal stories resonate with people. If you can get them nodding their head and saying, “Yeah, I had the same experience.” “Yeah, I did that too.” “I experienced this too.” That can go a long way with people.
I also like to do cultural issues, deal with cultural issues. This is a big one. When you start tapping in to the cultural side of things, you can really engage people there. You can talk about something you saw on television or a song that you heard or a movie, a scene from a movie, these kinds of things. If I step up to a group at the water cooler and I say, “I went and saw the Iron Man movie this weekend.”
What are they going to do? “Wow, I wanted to see that. Is it good?” “It’s as good as the first two.” All of a sudden there’s a conversation going there. If I can use something from that movie, in my e-mail I’m going to do it. Same way with popular shows, popular music, these kinds of things. I love doing that in an e-mail.
The third thing I like to pull from is topical issues, the issues of today. Really the best way to get stuff like that is to open USA Today newspaper. Just look at what people are talking about and reading about and writing an e-mail based around that. “Did you see what happened with this particular situation?”
Obviously, we don’t want to go toward things that are controversial like politics or religion or some very controversial issues because you’re going to alienate a big part of your audience. If you just want to say, “Wow, did you see what happened with this guy over here?” These little corky stories, you can take those things all day long and turn them into e-mails.
It’s all about engaging people in the conversation and making them go, “Hmm, that’s interesting.” Cultural topics or cultural things, topical things and personal things are usually the three places I like to pull stories from. There are thousands if not millions of things that you can talk about.
John: Right. Absolutely. I was reading something the other day. It talks about how you can pull from anything. You could say on the way to work this morning, I got caught in a traffic jam. Then that could be the sag into whatever you’re trying to sell that day. You can pick any. It doesn’t even have to be a story. As long as it relates, as long as you can find a way to relate it back to whatever you’re trying to sell, it doesn’t matter.
Jay: Absolutely. Let me write an e-mail right now. If you’re trying to sell a product that’s going to help you start your own home business and become an internet marketer, you can start out with that whole thing right there. Today, I was driving to work and I got caught in a horrible traffic jam. Start describing the traffic jam.
“I could see cars from miles in both directions. The guy next to me was screaming into his cellphone. The lady on the other side was putting on makeup. It was obvious we were going to be here for hours. I was going to be here for late. My day had already started off on a bad note. I started to myself, wouldn’t it be great if I’ve never had to commute like this ever again? Wouldn’t it be great if I had a job where my biggest commute would be from the bed to the coffee machine and then to my home office? Wouldn’t it be great if I didn’t have to sit here in a suit and tie and this horrible traffic jam? Show up to work with a screaming boss? I could just stroll into my office whenever I wanted to do a little work and then maybe go to the beach or go see a movie.”
That’s an easy one. That is an easy one right there. You’re basically pulling out a problem which is a traffic jam. You’re tying it in to a want, need, desire or a problem that you’re experiencing which is I wish I didn’t have to go to the office. I wish I didn’t have to mess with this commute. You’re saying, wouldn’t it be great if there was a way out of this? Guess what? There is. There is your link. Here’s the product and this will help you achieve that particular goal that you’re looking for.
It’s extremely easy. This is the way I’ve been writing e-mails for years and they’ve been doing very well for my clients and myself.
John: You just mentioned there, you did the transition. It’s like, “I’m sick of sitting in traffic jams or I was. Then I got this product and now everything’s changed.” Is there’s a technique or a special way to transition from any story into being able to drop a link to your sales page? Is that a way to do it or is this a practice thing? Do it over and over again and you get better.
Jay: There are several ways to do it and it is something that you practice and you get better at. What I like to do is before I start my e-mail, I like to figure out what that transition is going to be and how my particular story ties into a want, need, desire or a problem that the prospect is experiencing. I look for a thread, something that connects to both things. I call it my kind of like statement. I know that is pretty simple.
I basically say this want, need, desire or a problem is kind of like what. I start out with the problem and then I say, “it’s kind of like what I just saw in … it reminds me of what I saw in a movie.” For example, I’ll just tell you. One time, I was trying to write an e-mail for a client. He was a business coach or whatever trying to get more students into his program. I was watching my daughter in the next room. She was watching the Karate Kid on TV. She was trying to do the whole Karate Kid move Daniel San was doing in the movie.
She would keep falling down. She’s like four or five years old. It was just one of those things where you saw it and I started thinking, if she had a Mr. Miyagi like Daniel San did then she could master this in no time. I thought to myself, that’s what everybody needs. Everybody needs a Mr. Miyagi.
The people that are looking for a business coach need that Mr. Miyago kind of guy. I wrote this e-mail all about the story about my daughter, didn’t go on too long. I just basically set it up and said, “As I was watching this, it got me thinking. We could all use a Mr. Miyagi in our business, couldn’t we? Somebody who could teach us and help us master and help us achieve the big goal and …”
That’s exactly what this client is. That’s what he has for you today. It’s just things like that. You look at it and you go, “This whole problem is kind of like what? It’s kind of like what was going on in the Karate Kid.” That was a little bit of inspiration that happened right in front of me at the moment. If you can key in your mind into seeing those things all around you, then you will see so many stories and so many different things that you can tie into your e-mails. It will be remarkable.
People will love it. They will engage with you. They will nod their head as they’re reading and go, “Yeah, I remember that scene.” “Yeah, I love that song.” “Yeah, I was just watching that show again the other night.” “Yeah, my kid did the same thing.” Once you have that, you have relationship. You have a connection with them somehow which means there’s a better chance of them sticking with you through the whole message instead of feeling like, “Wait a minute. What’s this guy trying to sell me?” I hope that makes sense. I know I’m rambling.
John: It’s cool, man. It’s amazing to hear that selling at its course the bestselling is invisible and it seems like when it is invisible, it’s just telling stories.
Jay: Absolutely.
John: You’re not saying, “Here’s the product. Here’s the man. Here’s why you should buy.” You’re just telling a story and it’s the story does all the selling for you. It instantly gives the person who’s reading, it’s like a reference point or a frame. That does everything. It’s like 99% of that e-mail or a sales or an ad is set up. Then you put the link in there. You don’t need to sell the link because it’s being positioned in preset in a way with the story.
Jay: Absolutely. You hit it right on the head there, Johnny. It’s all about presetting them up and making them get to the point in the link where you ask a question and the link provides an answer. “Isn’t this what you really want?” Then you have the link. “The answer to your ongoing issues is right here.” Then you have the link. Basically it’s just a subtle nudge that you push them towards to say, “Check this out. Take a look at it.” It’s not, “Buy now. Buy now. Buy now.” We’ve all heard that and been hammered to death with that.
This is more of an easy gentle persuasive technique that’s very subtle, very smooth, in a very unhindered soul. We want people to read our e-mails without any speed bumps or any hiccups at all. It’s just something that’s very easy and very smooth to consume and at the end it’s just the inevitable link that is easily clicked on and click through.
John: Fantastic. This has been absolutely amazing. It’s great to hear writing e-mails and doing sales stuff and marketing, it doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. It really is just a story stuff. Biddings can be helpful to get you on here.
Jay: Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
John: Just before we go, give yourself a plug. Tell us where the listeners can find you and then we’ll say goodbye.
Jay: I did put together a process, a formula. If you will that basically walks you through each part of my technique for e-mail writing. It’s very detailed. It’s very informative. It’s probably eight or 10 hours long in total. I’ll walk you step by step through everything, subject line, opener, story, transition, wants, needs, desires, problems, positioning the product properly, following up with features and benefits, closing it out, what to put in the PS, what to do in specific situations where some things may fit better than others, frequently asked questions about formatting, length, width, all these different things, questions you might have about e-mail marketing. Put them all in a product called Email Copy Made Easy.
You can find that at emailcopymadeeasy.com. I hope to see you there. This is an easy way to make e-mail marketing more successful and more prosperous for you. It’s a fun way to do it too. You don’t have to sit down and think, “I got to write another e-mail, man.” You can sit down and go, “I’ve got this great story.” Boom, you can knock this things out in 10, 15 minutes.
Your subscribers, your readers will absolutely eat them up. You’ll start getting feedback on them saying, “Yeah, I love that story about this.” “When you mentioned this, it made me remember.” Suddenly, there’s a conversation and you’re engaging people. When you can engage your audience, they tend to know, “I can trust you more,” which means there’s going to be more sales involved down the road or even immediately. Emailcopymadeeasy.com, check it out and give it a look and I would love to see you inside.
John: Fantastic. Cool. All right, Jay. Thank you for that. Thanks for coming on.
Jay: All right. Thanks, John. Appreciate it buddy.
John: Hey, everybody. Thanks for listening. If you want to discover more insider tips, tricks, and secrets about driving sales with e-mail marketing, sign up for daily e-mail tips from The Autoresponder Guy. Go to themcmethod.com/podcast. Sign up, confirm your e-mail address, and I’ll send you daily e-mails on how to improve your e-mail marketing and make more sales via e-mail. You’ll find out why open rates don’t matter and the seven letter word that underlies all effective marketing and much more.

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