Five Lessons Email Marketers Can Learn From @Sh*tMyDadSays

If you track the Twitterverse, you've probably read about Justin Halpern, who converted his father's crusty, cranky and curse-laden commentary from a hot Twitter account into book and CBS sitcom deals. 

His success has energized millions of basement bloggers, but marketers and other communicators can also pick up pointers about creating highly focused, in-demand content, whether they occupy cubicles or spacious corner offices. 

Lesson One: Find the Voice that Differentiates You

Halpern amassed 800,000-plus followers by obeying the first lesson of situation comedy: Let the material speak for itself.

Each tweet faithfully reports some comment, question or observation that strikes him funny. No set-up, no editorializing, no sanitizing for his audience's protection.  

The humor grabs people's attention, but the consistency, authenticity and transparency of Halpern's tweets, which reveal his father's personality, warts and all, turn readers into fans.



 Your email challenge is to find the personality that speaks best to your subscribers and customers. Humor is one way to do it, but it's hard to do well and needs to match audience expectations.

A consistent and authentic personality will also help you position your email program in the marketplace, just as it helped Halpern stand out. 

Dad Says: "Son, no one gives a sh*t about all the things your cell phone does. You didn't invent it, you just bought it. Anybody can do that."

Lesson Two: Capitalize on Common Experiences

Anyone who has ever had to live with, care for or otherwise exist on the same plane as an aging, cantankerous, parent can relate to Halpern's experiences.

In your own emails, give your readers ample opportunities to tie their own experiences to your products, company or content.  

Employees can contribute their own product recommendations or positive interactions with customers, while customers can supply their own anecdotes, reviews and recommendations of products or services.

 Dad Says: "Oh please, you practically invented lazy. People should have to call you and ask for the rights to lazy before they use it."  

 Lesson Three: Be Choosy

 Halpern tweets only one saying every two or three days, yet I expect his dad talks more often. That must mean he exercises tight editorial control over which comments go public and which stay private.

 If only more marketers were that choosy. Send an email message only when you have a great offer or article, or are responding to customer behavior? That defies all the trends that show email frequency continues to rise.

No doubt Halpern's followers would love to see more, but maybe the content quality isn't there. Being particular certainly hasn't hurt either his following or his business prospects.

Dad Says: "You worry too much. Eat some bacon... What? No, I got no idea if it'll make you feel better, I just made too much bacon."

Lesson Four: Stay Focused

The formula is simple: One of Dad's sayings per tweet. No opinions, no leveraging the platform to promote unrelated topics.

As a result, Halpern's followers know what they're going to get: unintentionally funny statements that often mock the son who makes them famous.

Still, you never know exactly what creatively profane thing his father will say next. You have to tune in because you don't want to miss anything.

Your emails should deliver this consistent level of quality, yet be slightly unpredictable, so that your subscribers are never tempted to let them pile up in the inbox.

Don't recycle creative content or offers. Find new ways to promote your products besides the usual 20% off, free shipping or "Friends and Family" offers that everybody's doing.

Unlike Halpern, your content isn't constrained to 140 characters. However, readers should grasp your meaning quickly, even if you have more than one offer or article per message.

Dad Says: "The worst thing you can be is a liar .... Okay fine, yes, the worst thing you can be is a Nazi, but THEN, number two is liar. Nazi 1, Liar 2."

Lesson Five: People Do Respond to Great Content

Halpern built his Twitter following by word of mouth first, without a blog, spectacular design, a call to action or a mailing list. Press interest got him his book and TV deals, but his content went viral thanks to his fans and followers.

You have more tools to attract and engage your customers, but great content still rules.

Dad Says: "My flight lands at 9:30 on Sunday...You want to watch what? What the f*ck is mad men? I'm a mad man if you don't pick me the hell up."

Until next time, take it up a notch!

7 comments about "Five Lessons Email Marketers Can Learn From @Sh*tMyDadSays".
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  1. C.t. Trivella from NAS Recruitment Communications, November 19, 2009 at 11:21 a.m.

    I think what works here is that there's no BS. It's earthy, gritty and just plan honest. Frankly, I don't have time to weed through the crap or bad attitudes that exist out there (e.g., Mark Cuban's rants.)

  2. Darrah Maclean from Smith-Harmon, November 19, 2009 at 11:27 a.m.

    Brilliant article. Thanks for writing it.

  3. Deni Kasrel from Self-employed, November 19, 2009 at 12:05 p.m.

    Your comments/observations on s**t... are spot on. I have to say though, sometimes I think the tweet is made-up/ fabricated. Like, it's a good line he thought up on his own, rather than coming straight from Dad's mouth. This does not make it any less funny but seems the style/tone varies enough that not all are coming from different root sources.

  4. Deni Kasrel from Self-employed, November 19, 2009 at 12:07 p.m.

    Whups, typo in my prior comment, last sentence meant to say: not all are coming from same root sources.

  5. Howard Brodwin from Sports and Social Change, November 19, 2009 at 3:32 p.m.

    I've been following this on Twitter for several months - brilliantly funny stuff.

    Loren's Lesson #5 is right on target: Good content will rise to the top. Whether you think it's 100% legit or not (and I think it is), it is funny and a wide audience can relate to it. And we're in a time where everyone could use a good laugh.

    As his dad says: "You know, sometimes it's nice having you around. But now ain't one of those times. Now gimmie the remote we're not watching this bullsh*t."

  6. Loren McDonald from IBM Marketing Cloud, November 19, 2009 at 5:50 p.m.

    Howard -I think the uber lesson is exactly that - it is all abou the content.

    Ya, I hope we don't find out down the road that this guys is a scriptwriter who sold the TV show idea first and then the Twitter account...that would be quite disappointing.

    Love that Tweet too - another lesson for marketers - I may not want you to communicate to me in every channel.

  7. Mickey Lonchar from Quisenberry, November 19, 2009 at 6:59 p.m.

    Deconstruct why S**tMyDadSays is so popular, and you get all the basics of what a successful Social Media programs needs to be. It is authentic. It is original. It is entertaining/insightful. It is eminently shareable.

    Above all, it is simple.

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