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Has this ever happened to you? A new client contacts you looking for a designer. Their project sounds fun, and you seem to hit it off well with them. They verbally agree to your terms, and since everything sounds encouraging, you send them a formal proposal. And you wait in anticipation for them to approve your proposal and give you the go-ahead to get started on their project.
And then you wait and wait, but you don't hear back. You send follow-up emails but don't receive any replies. The client has ghosted you.
If you're not familiar with the term “ghosted,” it's when someone ends all communication and contact with another person without any apparent warning or justification. Subsequently, they ignore any attempts to reach out or communication made by the person they're ghosting.
And by that definition, this client is ghosting you. And it's not only with new clients. Sometimes an exiting client may ghost you in the middle of a project. You send them a proof and don't hear back. Or you ask them a question or for content you need, and you don't get a reply.
This is any time you don't hear back from a client for whatever reason, even after several failed attempts at contacting them. What do you do? You send them The Magic Email, that's what.
The Magic Email.
What is The Magic Email, you ask? According to Blair Enns, Author and CEO of Win Without Pitching, a sales training organization for creative professionals. The Magic Email is a message you send to raise deals from the dead. That's its purpose, to solicit a response from someone who has been avoiding you.
According to Enns, you must resist the temptation of sending an overly polite email. He suggests you do the opposite. Don't make excuses for your client's behaviour. And don't go soliciting a yes or any other answer from them.
Enns suggests you strip away all emotions and let your prospect go matter-of-factly. And you that that with the following Magic Email. Within the last existing email thread, you had with your client, hit reply, change the subject to “Closing the Loop,” and then write the following.
I haven't heard back from you on [project/opportunity], so I'm going to assume you've gone in a different direction or your priorities have changed.
Let me know if we can be of assistance in the future.
Enns says this removes the emotional reasons for the prospect to continue avoiding you. You are stripping out your neediness by no longer feigning politeness, by not asking how they've been or by being anything other than completely practical.
This Magic Email says, “I can read between the lines, and you have decided we are not doing business together. No hard feelings – it's just business. You can call me if things change.”
What to expect after sending The Magic Email.
You can expect one of three things to happen when you send The Magic Email.
Silence is the least likely scenario where you don't get a response at all. There's no longer any reason for the client not to wrap things up. All they have to do is send you a one-line acknowledgement email to remove this stress from their own lives.
2. Thank You.
The client will send you a reply acknowledging that they have decided to cancel the project or they've moved in a different direction.
This gives you closure and allows you to stop wasting energy over something that wasn't going to happen and move on to other clients and projects. There's no need to sulk about it. The deal was already done, probably a long time ago. The client just didn't tell you.
3. No, Wait!
This is the response you're hoping for.
According to Enns, by retreating unemotionally, where you might otherwise be inclined to advance, you suddenly become the one that might get away. The client stops seeing you as the predator that keeps sending them emails, to the prize they're about to lose.
There's a psychological effect of this unemotional retreat that can be staggering in its effectiveness. And any resentment the client had over you harassing them turns into guilt about not replying to you earlier. This gives you the upper hand emotionally, and you suddenly become much more attractive to the client.
You can learn more about all of this on Blair Enns site winwithoutpitching.com
Variations of The Magic Email.
Variation by Kai Davis
We recently had a discussion in the Resourceful Designer Community about The Magic Email. Particularly about the different variations.
Kai Davis of kaidavis.com adapted his Magic Email from Blair Enns' He says he split-tested it, and his version works better. His version is to send this one-sentence email.
“Since I have not heard from you on this, I have to assume your priorities have changed.”
That's it, nothing else.
Davis says it works because it's simple, intentionally vague, and effective. People are loss averse. Meaning their natural inclination is to reply immediately to keep you from walking away. You are taking back control of the situation by declaring it's over.
Davis goes on to say that you may find this email rude. And that's the discussion we had in the Resourceful Designer Community. But he says it's not rude, just direct. It's the client who doesn't answer your emails that is rude. The person has already ignored you for weeks, so you have nothing to lose. It's just business.
To learn more from Kai Davis' use of The Magic Email at themagicemail.com
Variation by Chris Voss
You can find another variation of The Magic Email in former FBI negotiator Chris Voss's book Never Split The Difference.
Voss' variation is a simple message that provokes a “no” response, which gives the other party a feeling of safety and the illusion of control while encouraging them to define their position and explain it to you.
This is how it works.
- Reply to an existing email thread.
- Change the subject line to a “no-oriented question.” such as “have you given up on this?”
- In the body of the message, write the same or a very similar sentence. Don't add details or explanations. One short sentence is all you need. For example. “Have you given up on this project?” or “Have you moved in a different direction?”
According to Voss, this is not a trick or technique. It's a respectful approach that gives the other party the freedom to respond truthfully to you without pressure.
Which variation would you use?
What version of The Magic Email would you use? We had our discussion in the Resourceful Designer Community, but I would love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below and let me know how you approach clients who are ghosting you.
Nobody likes to be ignored. And it's a waste of time and energy pursuing someone ghosting you. It's frustrating. So the next time something like this happens to you, try sending a variation of The Magic Email and see what happens. Who knows. You may light that fire under the client and get your stalled project back on track.
I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form.
I want to help you.
Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org