Using Canned Emails To Your Advantage
There's nothing better than creating systems for your business that work FOR you. I mean, think about some of the tasks you face as a business owner that are just pure time sucks. There's the endless emails, long phone conversations, meetings, book-keeping, and so much more that quietly (yet annoyingly) sneaks into our creative days, begging to get done. Sure, we all #LoveOurJobs, but not everything is always smooth and glamorous behind the scenes.
I could write a book or teach a course about systems (and maybe one day I will), but instead of doing all of that right here, right now, let's start with email. Because for most, it's a biggie. I discovered early on that my inbox holds the potential to derail any given day with how much time it demands. So instead of giving in, I started setting up systems that would keep me out of my inbox as much as possible. And this, my friends, is where canned email responses come into play! Some of you may heard of these before, but basically, this is where you send a pre-drafted email, when applicable, instead of writing from scratch (instructions here).
But what should your canned emails say? Good question! Think about some of the most common emails you send out. Maybe it's an answer to a question that you're asked all the time (ie: "I want to start my own business, do you have any advice?"), or maybe it's an in-depth follow up to a potential client you're interested in working with. Here's a peak into my current canned response list. There aren't many, but they've saved me hours upon hours of time.
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01. BAD FIT INQUIRY REJECTION When a potential inquiry comes into my inbox that I know won't be a good fit because our interests and / or aesthetics are misaligned, I send out a general email that explains just that. Doing this is a little easier said than done, since you don't want to hurt their feelings or burn any bridges. Make sure to keep it simple, but explanatory. And if you can, refer them to somebody else so that they're left with something. That's the nice thing to do. ;) Here is what I use:
"Hey (Person's Name), Thank you so much for reaching out to me about your project! I currently work within a more specific niche (art, food, fashion), so unfortunately, I don't think that I'm the right fit for this project. I hope you can understand! If interested, please check out (referral names and links here). All are great and I truly hope that you can find a great fit there. Wishing you all the best.
Take care, Bre."
02. BUSY REJECTION Alternatively, if I'm simply too busy to take on new work and am not looking to schedule things out in advance, I have a separate inquiry rejection email that says just this. It's fairly similar to my "bad fit" response, where I send out referrals, but is a bit more to the point. Here it is:
"Hey (Person's Name), Thank you so much for reaching out to me about your project! Unfortunately, I am all booked up at this time and am unable to take on new work. If interested, though, please check out (referral names and links here). All are great and I hope you can find a great fit there. Wishing you all the best.
Take care, Bre."
03. INITIAL INQUIRY QUESTIONS On the flip side, if there's a client that I'm interested in working with, but need to know a bit more about, I'll send out a canned email response with a list of basic questions that allows me to confirm if we'd be a good fit or not. This one is a bit more tricky, since some of the questions need to be adjusted or removed, while other times, I may add a few questions depending on the situation. But when it comes down to it, here are the questions that I ask the most:
"Hey (Person's Name), Thank you so much for reaching out to me about your project! Would you mind answering a few questions for me below? I'm definitely intrigued, but just want to make sure that we'd be a good fit. ;)
1. Did any of the work on my website in particular resonate with you? 2. Can you share a few visual examples of brands and / or websites that are in the direction you'd like to go? 3. What are some of your biggest goals (just a brief overview) w/ your business? 4. Are you the only decision-maker in your business?
I'm looking forward to seeing your answers and we'll chat more after the fact!
Chat soon, Bre."
You may be wondering why I ask those questions, so I'll go over that too. The first question (about my work + websites) allows me to see what they like about my style as well as what projects they're drawn to. The second question expands on that some more, firming up their aesthetics and initial project vision. Basically, these two questions work hand in hand to tell me whether or not we'd be a good fit, aesthetically speaking. You can't read TOO much into this, though, since it's your job as a creative to help lead the project vision moving forward. But if they're talking about stuff that's totally not in your wheelhouse or something you're interested in, then it's best to consider referring them elsewhere. Moving on, the third questions sheds light into their goals, and often reveals the passion behind the project itself. I like working with hard working + "ready to go" creatives, so this questions is always a fun one to read and digest. And last, but certainly not least, question four reveals WHO you'd potentially be working with. Sometimes, even though one person is emailing you, there's actually three other important decision makers behind the scenes. Depending on how you like to work and WHO you like to work with, this can be a very important question to ask.
04. STARTING CLIENT This next canned email is a biggie, so I'll be devoting an entire post to it (and beyond) in the coming weeks. But for now, I'll give you a quick overview. This email is what I send to each and every new client once they're ready to sign a contract and begin. And as many of you may know from experience, client onboarding can take a lot of time. There's many moving parts and information that needs to be gathered and collected, so writing these intro emails typically takes forever and a day. But it doesn't have to! If you streamline your client onboarding process (ie: make it the same for everybody), you'll be able to streamline the email you send out by using the same canned response over and over again. My email, which I'll share at a later date (soon!!) provides a quick welcome, then carefully outlines all of the next steps for getting a client started. All I have to do is prep a few documents (like the contract and downpayment invoice), personalize the email, and hit send. Doing this cut my time from about one hour to 10 minutes flat. That's a serious time saver, friends! More on how I do this, step by step, real soon.
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As you can imagine, there are countless other ways creatives can used canned responses to their advantage, you've just gotta get a little creative. But I promise, having a handful of these ready will save you so much time that you'll be able to use your spare time on things that make you happy and healthy, whether it's work related or not. Less email is always a good thing in my book. ;) And hey, if you have any more ideas, feel free to share them below!