Or Any Change Management Program
Noah is the founder of a company called AppSumo, which is kind of like Groupon but focused on entrepreneurs – tools entrepreneurs need to start businesses. I signed up a while ago and I get emails from them occasionally. This article deconstructs an email I received from Noah recently and what that simple email and the landingpage it points to can teach us about leading change initiatives or change management programs and lean transformations.
Most of my audience here have never heard the name Noah Kagan. I actually hadn’t either until I looked him up. It turns out he’s a former Facebook employee – one of the first. So, he knows something about starting businesses and such. His Facebook past doesn’t matter really; what matters is what he is up to now and what we can learn from his approach to marketing – what principles we can glean from his marketing email that may be helpful to those leading Lean Transformations.
The AppSumo Email
When I woke up on August 28, 2013 I opened up my inbox and saw the AppSumo email. The subject line caught my attention right away:
What I learned from a McDonald’s Manager
It’s a curious subject line. It accomplished it’s purpose. I became curious enough to open the email instead of throwing it in the trash. I then noticed that the email was sent at 3:21 AM. Since Noah is a marketing geek, I’m sure he and his team have done a lot of A/B test in order to optimize open rates. Perhaps they concluded that emails sent around 3 AM will lead to the highest likelihood of being opened.
- Create Curiosity: Implement a catchy headline that will create curiousity. This is important for change managers or leaders of lean transformations. To garner interest and eventually support, you must first get and then earn the attention of those impacted by the change.
- Communicate at the Optimal Time: It’s not an accident that the email was sent at 3 AM. What this means from a change management perspective is that we must communicate at times when our audience is most likely to listen to our message.
- Use a Human Face to Build Credibility and Trust: The email contained a photo of Noah. Seeing a human face helped me to feel that this email was less spammy – it made the message more credible. Similarly, for those leading change initiatives inside of organizations, it’s important to remember that before anybody will listen to us, they must first trust the person before they will listen to our message.
When I clicked through from the email, I landed on the designated landingpage. The first thing that catches my eye is the same picture of Noah Kagan. Below him is a sign stating “Only 200 spots remaining” – indicating sense of urgency for me to act before I lose my spot in the training he’s offering.
- Familiar Feeling and No Surprises: clicking through from an email with a picture of Noah and landing on a web page with the same picture of Noah helped me to understand where I was and that I landed in the place I expected. This created a feeling of familiarity and there were no surprises. For leaders of change programs or lean transformations, there’s a powerful lesson here – we can also create a sense of familiarity and urgency simultaneously. Doing so would help our audience both support and also act on the message we are sharing.
- Create a Sense of Urgency – a Burning Platform: People won’t necessarily act or support a change program unless there’s a burning platform or something that will create a sense of urgency. Otherwise, most people will be fence sitters or worst – saboteurs to your change initiative. It’s critical to create a sense of urgency – a common burning platform everyone can agree on. Otherwise, there will be complacency.
The message next to the image of Noah was this:
How To Make A $1,000 A Month Business
Have you failed at starting a business or failed at trying?
Learn to find the right idea and start a profitable business you’ll enjoy without spending more money. How To Make a $1,000 a Month Business is interactive and designed for action.
In this message, he’s building some empathy and trying to connect with the customer. He’s trying to say “I understand you and your struggles. I’ve got something that can help you”.
- Connect with your audience: Build empathy and emotionally connect with your audience. By doing this, we as change managers can more readily begin at a common point with a common cause with our audience. We are no longer an outsider looking in, but now have become part of them and their struggle. In leading a lean transformation, this is critical – resistance often happens when folks don’t believe that any improvements need to be made. If we begin from a point that is common point of departure or jumping off point and – even – begin with a common cause.
Tell a Story
In the next several sections of the Landingpage, there is story after story of ordinary people and their story. They tell the reader about their initial struggles, what they tried, and how Noah’s program helped them to achieve the goal of making at least $1000 per month. Their stories are interesting and engaging. And again, there is effective use of real people’s faces here – no stock photos. This engenders trust – these are real people not fake models.
- Tell an engaging story: Story telling is an underutilized and under-appreciated skill in business. It is a skill that is especially important in change management because we are trying to change hearts more than we are trying to change minds or business systems.
- Customer Testimonials to build emotional connection: Using real people’s faces and their stories are engaging and creates a sense of “I see myself in them” feeling. Effective change management programs utilize this approach to effectively create emotional connection. Doing so prevents and reduces resistance that comes with any change program.
Trust the Team – We’ve Got Your Back
In most change programs, the question the audience will undoubtedly ask themselves quietly is “Why should I trust You?” In the context of the marketing a new product, the AppSumo landingpage answers this question by showing the picture of the AppSumo team and with a large messaging that says “We’ve Got Your Back”.
- Trust Person, Before Listen to Message: In change management programs, it’s critical to establish trust. People will need to first trust those leading the change program or process improvement efforts before they will listen, support, and participate in the initiative. They need to feel as if someone has their back.
A Final Word
Toward the end of a very long landingpage, there’s the same picture of Noah that we saw at the beginning. Again, this is not an accident. Next to his image is a personal note and an invitation to join his program.
The effect this has is that feeling of trust and familiarity again. It creates an emotional sense of “I’ve seen his picture before” or “I feel like he’s talking to me personally”. That sense creates emotional connection.
- Consistent Message and No Surprises: Whatever we laid out at the beginning of the change management initiative has to be the same message we communicate throughout. By doing this, there are no surprises and our audience will have heard it before and the message will feel familiar.
As I scrolled down the landingpage, a proactive chat screen popped, inviting me to ask any questions if I had any. This type of helpfulness and accessibility builds even more trust and helps me feel that I’m not alone.
- Answer Questions and be Accessible: with anything new, but especially new programs, new change initiatives, lean transformations, or six sigma deployments, people will have questions. It’s important that those questions are invited and also answered. This simple act builds trust and eventually support.
Conclusion and Final Notes
I took some creative liberty to compare a marketing email to the principles and practices that make for an effective change management program. I think there’s a lot in common and I’ve certainly learned quite a bit from deconstructing Noah Kagan’s email.
Regardless of the marketing email or source of the principles learned, the principles we learn in this article are good for any change management program.
Below is the entire landingpage I deconstructed here. Take a look at it. I’m sure there are elements that I’ve missed that perhaps you might apply to your own initiative.