The Drunk Cold Email That Changed My Life

I used to work for digital marketing agencies. After 5 or so years, I decided to start my own agency.

It went well for a year. Then, all my word of mouth leads dried up. I didn’t know how to open leads cold. I got desperate. I dealt with this the only way I know how. I got blind drunk.

I then proceeded to write the most absurd cold email I possibly could. I was still tipsy enough the next morning to think it was still a wise idea to send said email to senior marketing professionals at some of the world’s largest brands.

To my amazement, it worked. My inbox was filled with complimentary responses and most importantly, my diary was filling up with calls and meetings.

I kept sending my weird emails. Every time I did, the same thing happened.

Then I won my first gigantic client, Symantec.

We had to deliver great results, such as achieving PR coverage in big publications. I used the same style of email to get journalists to reply to me. It worked.

It’s at this point I realized this style of writing could be used for any ‘ask’ you need to make.

If you write to the people behind the fancy job titles, you’re more likely to get a response. I dropped the self-important veneer and spoke with refreshing honesty and levity. It would appear I’m not alone in preferring this way of communicating.

I’ve been able to reverse engineer my emails and can break down how and why they work. No desperate binge drinking required. Or at least, it’s not mandatory.

What makes my emails different from the standard copywriter formats was that my primary influences were coming from the world of comedy instead of marketing. Instead of using the same old hooks that are tried and true I drew from my knowledge of comedy bits and routines that are geared towards producing laughs. Another element in my emails that sets me ahead of the pack is how honest I am right off the bat. I start off with a greeting and a joke and flat out admit that I’m a stranger sending a cold email. Who starts off like that? No one. Most people ignore the elephant in the room and just barrel onwards to their pitch.

By calling out my position as a cold emailer, it actually opens up the door to have a real personal relationship going forward. Your honesty plus humor is disarming and it sails you past any awkwardness they might be feeling.

I wanted to make every aspect of my email different from the ordinary. I would use the subject line “Apologies In Advance,” because there’s something attention grabbing about a stranger wanting to apologize to you.

I want to make my emails be different in every way I possibly can, even going so far as to use non-conventional ways to open my emails, such as using “greetings,” or “salutations” instead of the usual “Dear” or “Hey”.

Most people focus their email copy on persuading the recipient of every feature and benefit of their product or service. As a result, they blend in. I focus on standing out and getting attention. Without this, none of that clever persuasion stuff works. And being able to get attention in a clever way, is somewhat persuasive in itself.

If you can make people smile or laugh, they’re more likely to respond positively. It’s the best first impression you can make, at least remotely.

Drop the jargon. Speak to the person, not the ‘professional’ and you will see prospects replying with enthusiasm, rather than nonchalance.

Action Steps

  1. Use a witty subject line to grab attention immediately.
  2. Use an unusual opener to break the established patterns.
  3. Employ humor in your email copy to disarm the awkwardness of a cold email.
  4. Give your pitch, but be up front about who you are.


Result You Will Achieve

More of your prospect’s attention using cold emails with humor and pattern breaking to prompt a relationship.

Mentor: Jon Buchan

Founder of Charm Offensive. Jon found success in his cold email marketing through a very unconventional way and he is sharing them with you.

This article is based on an EHQ interview with the mentor.