Humor me

Ep. 8 Takeaways from Reputation “Rev”amped

Powered by RedCircle

Let’s dive into the strategies and methods used in the Rev holiday email, featured in Episode 7.

(2:32) Takeaway#1: Creativity isn’t magic
(3:25) Takeaway #2: Safe risks are the name of the game
(4:28) Takeaway #3: Humor is a vehicle for building connection – not just likeability
(7:03) Takeaway #4: Be understanding of clients/boss’ hesitations to risk

Links from this episode:
Take another look at the email we featured in Episode 7
Get access to Nick’s class on creativity when you join Email Mastery.
Get really jealous of Dr. Eric’s Fier’s patients when you take a look at his site.
Get Nikki’s email musings at ⁠

Subscribe to Email Swipes and never miss another episode.


Nikki Elbaz: I do think, though, that sometimes risky feels like the answer because it feels fun or daring or desperate, even like, ok, things are bad. Let’s go crazy and go viral and try to win people back.

Speaker B: Welcome to email swipes, where we peek behind the scenes at the emails that catch your attention and earn their place in your swipe file. Every other week we’ll talk to an email expert about an experiment they ran, and in the following episode we’ll dive into the strategies and methods used in the email so you can inform and inspire your own email work. I’m Nicki Guillbas, the copywriter behind winning emails for eight and nine figure SaaS and ecommerce brands like Shopify, four, Sigmatic, and Sprout social. And I know that hearing the background stories to these emails will help you turn pie in the sky insights into plug and play actions. Ready to make inspiration tactical?

Nikki Elbaz: Let’s go.

First, a quick recap of the email we discussed last week that we’ll be digging into today.

Speaker C: Please get them anything but us. We appreciate the love, but Rev isn’t for everybody. This holiday season there are going to be a lot of companies emailing you to try to sell you on the idea that their product makes for an ideal gift. Just today, a cure for baldness that we refuse to name, Colt emailed us with the subject line we wish you a hairy Christmas.

Nikki Elbaz: Enough is enough.

Speaker C: We’re not here to do that. We’re a transcript caption company people. We’re just not a great gift. As you probably know, your kids will.

Nikki Elbaz: Not be waiting up all night for.

Speaker C: Santa to leave them a perfectly accurate srt file. Your in laws can get them a day at a hot mud spa or an inflatable kayak, maybe some sort of themed popcorn. They just won’t appreciate our time stamped transcript editor or the fact that we offer a rush option.

Nikki Elbaz: Even though we know you love Rev.

Speaker C: Please understand that we really aren’t a holiday gift type company. We’re absolutely amazing at captions and transcripts. True, we provide value somewhere in the 15 x to 20 times range, but the people want other stuff.

Nikki Elbaz: They just do.

Speaker C: As for you, well, of course we got you a few little somethings. Happy holidays.

Speaker D: Your friends at Rev.

Nikki Elbaz: Ive been a huge fan of Nicks work since getting this first creative rev email, but I have to say that im even more impressed now that I got a peek behind his creative process. Actually, after I interviewed him for email swipes, I asked him if hed do a masterclass for email mastery and happily he agreed. He has such a fabulous process for creativity. It’s an amazing resource. I wasn’t surprised when he mentioned he’s a teacher. There’s a certain clarity of process you need to attain before you can accurately teach something. I remember back in college we had a few textbooks that taught creativity and idea creation, and when I saw the book list I was like, huh? Huh? You can teach creativity. Isn’t it just magic, a gift? And I think this is a huge misconception about humor and creativity and fun in marketing that creativity just comes. Thankfully, I was schooled early on while I was in, well, school because my goodness, it is stressful to be in a role where you have to be creative on demand and just hope that your magic will always work. So takeaway number one, if you do creativity on the fly, there is hope. There are so many resources, so many classes, so many books, even just conversations with other creatives. You owe it to your stress levels to develop a concrete creative process.

Alright, now let’s talk about the email. I was really impressed with the rev CEO that he was willing to take a risk as the response to some seriously bad pr. It takes a lot of guts. But he agreed. Obviously they were smart about the risk and only sent it to a small sample. But still, there are a lot of brands out there who are effort protective of their lists for good reason and that prevents opportunity. Safe doesn’t get you far. I do think, though, that sometimes risky feels like the answer because it feels fun or daring or desperate, even like, okay, things are bad, let’s go crazy and go viral and try to win people back. And uh, I think there were two things that show that this was not the case.

Nikki Elbaz: The first is that they minimize the risk and only sent the a variation to a small sample. But even more importantly, overhauling the email program and the brand voice was on the back burner. They had been planning to do this for six months prior, and the bad pr was only just the impetus to finally get around to it. Clearly, if it was already in the plans, it’s not a big risk. So takeaway number two, safe risks are the name of the game.

Okay, now onto the email copy itself. These emails have such a depth of relevance, and I think the average layperson sees this email and thinks it’s so effective because it’s funny. But what is humor? What is so great about humor? I think this is a really important understanding for brands that either really want to be funny or brands that are really conscious of not being funny. I’m no comedian, but humor is depth of relevance at a base level. All the little meta references and all the irreverence laid the foundation for connection, for a feeling of recognition of community, even. I actually just recently heard an amazing talk by psychiatrist doctor Eric Fire, and he mentioned how important humor is when working with children. I knew this play is a huge way to diffuse basically any scenario with kids, but he took it to a whole other level. He was talking about how humor is actually essentially validating the other person and their experiences. Humor is about understanding the other person enough to flip it on its head to be funny. So why do we want to be funny in marketing? And how can we generate the same response if we can’t be funny? It all ties back to being relevant, to building that human connection. So takeaway number three, the value of being funny in marketing isn’t just the likability factor that’s valuable, sure, but it’s more about building connection. By the way, obviously there are mechanisms that make things funny, like the benign violation theory that Nick taught us. There does need to be an element of unexpected in order for something to be funny. But this takeaway is more about understanding the goal of being funny so that we can properly assess whether a specific funny thing works in our email. It may be legitimately funny, it may make the audience lol. But we also need to make sure it builds the relationship. Personally, I think this is Nick’s secret sauce. He knows exactly how to be funny, but also really charming so you’re never insulted, even when he’s poking fun at you. Something that I noticed when listening to Nick. There’s kind of this trifecta of emo perfection. When working with a team, the PMM gives him the data he needed to get deep into the reader’s shoes. That’s the before. Then he wrote the email after he was supported and aided by social when they pushed the email outside the inbox. I have no idea what you should do with this little bit of info. I don’t even want to give it a takeaway number, especially since in episode three this social media manager was actually in the before stage. He was the one who suggested the idea of a love letter email. But it’s amusing and maybe it will help you with your email writing process.

Okay, this last takeaway is for my freelancers that are listening. The story about the job offer was funny. It was really funny, but it also highlights something really important. Taking risks is really hard for most companies. They may understand its importance to the point that they hire someone to overhaul the email program, but they will still drag their feet. It took Rev six months and a crazy pr story for Nick to get permission to take some risks. So takeaway number four yes, our job is to educate our clients and help them see that risk taking is how you experiment and test theories, but it’s also our job to be understanding and patient when clients are hesitant. I’m surprised there are only four takeaways to this email, but I think it’s because we dug into so much of what made the email so awesome in the actual episode itself. So if you feel like you want to dig in further, take another listen. Sometimes you hear things that you didn’t hear the first time around. Thanks for listening. And if you’re not on the email master waitlist and you want to hear Nick’s masterclass on creativity, the link is in the show notes.

Speaker C: Thanks for geeking out with me about that email story. If you enjoyed either of these episodes, you’ll probably enjoy getting my emails. Plus, you’ll never miss another episode. Sign subscribe and yes, that link is in the show notes, up next on email swipes.

Speaker E: I mean, the truth is, I’m still terrified. It wasn’t that it went away and then I did it and it wasn’t that I felt sure and then I hit send. It was let me see if this is the right way to flex this muscle.

Listen on your favorite player:

Never miss a “Swipe”

Subscribe to my emails to get notified about each new episode.
Plus get my other email musings, straight to your inbox.