Don’t Mess with Downton Abbey

In the past two weeks, I received two sales emails with short-duration, late night deadlines. The second arrived on Sunday, at 5 pm, with a 10 pm EST deadline. The offer was enticing—get more, free, traffic in six weeks with this course—and had bonuses that were also appealing, for less than $200. I had my hand on my credit card when I backed off. Something was wrong, and it required more thought.

As it was, I thought “not” and went back to my regularly scheduled programming. When it comes to spending money, the default is “No.” (At least, it should be.)

While writing my morning pages today, I noticed resentment about this email, and I wondered why it was still on my mind. That’s part of what morning pages are for: exploring the leftovers.

  1. Do Not Mess with Downton Abbey. 10 pm EST is Downton Abbey time (9-10 pm). In effect, the offer ends at 9 pm. You are not on my wavelength if you do not watch Downton Abbey.
  2. Why can’t you let me sleep on your offer?
  3. The class was not very expensive, which was its own warning flag. How good can it be for that price? Why the rush to fill a super-discount, potentially low-value class?
  4. There was no mention of what the increase would be after the deadline, so I could not make an informed decision about the cost of waiting.
  5. I saw more than one typo in the sales letter, indicating that the author didn’t sleep on it.
  6. People with active lives are not looking at email late on a Sunday afternoon.

    If a virus had not infected my partner’s PC, forcing him to use my PC to check email, I would not have seen the offer until Monday morning. I hate seeing offers that both arrive and expire in the time between email logins. (Offers that sit in my box noted but unopened are my fault, so I don’t let them bother me.)

    Therefore, the class will be full of people who check email late on Sunday and who don’t care to sleep on a decision. These are not my peeps. (Actually, they are. But it’s not the life I want, and you don’t get the life you want by hanging around people who live a life you don’t want.)

  7. There was no PayPal option, so I had to reach for a credit card. I used to know my credit card numbers by heart, but it’s turned out to be better for my bank balance not to know them. The last time I got a new card number, I didn’t learn it.

    Reaching for a wallet that happened to be empty of cash reminded me that I don’t need to spend money I don’t have on a course offering to supply traffic I might need by learning how to do social media I already know I don’t like using. (Unless a marketer calls out Pinterest by name, any mention of “social media” means LI, FB, and Twitter primarily. Pinterest is an entirely different set of skills.)

  8. See #1. Edith got jilted and Downton Abbey stays in the family because Matthew came to his senses about the inheritance from Lavinia’s father. Did you think your offer is more important than that?

    I can make the case that your promise—more traffic, from free activities that I can do in one or two hours a week—is just as improbable as one ordinary lawyer coming into two massive inheritances within five years. (OTOH, Matthew had the massive demographic impact of both WWI AND the Spanish Flu on his side. The sales offer in question had no real proof.)

I asked the first marketer who sent an “expires at midnight tonight” offer, “why do you want to have people as customers who are reading email at 11 pm?” He laughed and said most of his list lived in CA, so it would have been 9 pm for them. At least that was a weekday offer, and he had a good cover story: last-minute opportunity for a romantic get-away with his wife if he could fill the class early.

There was no cover story on the second offer.

If you’re going to set an East Coast deadline on an offer, do yourself a favor and figure out what might be going on in your target audience’s life at that time.

Downton Abbey Cast photo, season three

The major players in Downton Abbey, Season Three.

Don’t try to compete with Downton Abbey. You’re just not that good.

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