Could your email marketing program use a little chaos, disruption and messiness?
On a recent flight home from London, I watched economist Tom Harford's TEDTalk presentation, "How frustration can make us more creative,” in which he shows how inserting messiness and disruption into the creative process will usually produce a better result.
Naturally, it got me thinking about how to apply his concepts to email marketing.
Three Elements of a Disruptive Email Process
1. Randomness. We marketers often talk about following "best practices," not because we are sure they are actually best, but because they're tested and safe. By following what the experts and everybody else are doing, we know we won't get in trouble and can expect at least average performance.
Do you really want to be average, though?
Consider trying tactics and approaches that go against conventional wisdom or at least your common practices. Obviously I'm not telling you to go crazy here; emailing to five-year inactives could land you on a block list.
So, consider approaches like these:
2. Stranger in the process. Harford described a study in which two groups of four students were told to solve a murder. One group included four students who knew each other well, while the other group included three friends and one stranger.
The group with the stranger solved the murder significantly better than the all-friend group. That's because the stranger brought pain and discomfort to the process and reduced the tendency toward group thinking.
Here are a few ways to introduce the "stranger" concept in future brainstorming and planning meetings:
3. Oblique strategies. Legendary musician and producer Brian Eno collaborated in the 1970s with art teacher Peter Schmidt on a card-based system called "oblique strategies." Each card presents a challenge designed to disrupt traditional thinking and processes that block creativity.
Consider these statements or questions in your brainstorming meetings, or come up with your own:
Some of these concepts and examples might be stupid or complete failures for your brand. So what? The point is to break free from your same-old, same-old thinking and to try some new, random and crazy things.
Only this type of approach can generate surprising or even breakthrough results. Incremental thinking and changes, which build bit by bit on past changes, won't achieve this.
Have you tried some messiness in your email marketing program? Please share the good, bad and the ugly in the comments section.
Until next time, take it up a notch.