A shrub can grow 115 feet tall, and touching this plant just once can cause you enough pain to make you consider taking your own life.
That’s the stuff of late-night scary “B” movies.
The Gympie Gympie, also known as the Stinging Bush, the Queensland Stinger, or the “suicide plant.” It’s also known as the Giant Australian Stinging Tree. Yup, you knew something this crazy dangerous had to be from Australia, right?
Brush this plant with your bare skin, and it delivers a painful sting via tiny hairs covering the leaves and stem, which inject venom into the skin.
This pain can last for 9 MONTHS, and even morphine can be ineffective against its venom.
It’s said the sensation is like being burned by hot acid and electrocuted simultaneously. Serviceman Cyril Bromley fell into one of the plants during WWII training exercises and ended up strapped to a hospital bed, “as mad as a hatter.” Another officer unknowingly used a leaf as toilet paper (OMG!) and ended up shooting himself.
But the story gets even weirder because, for some unknown crazy reason, someone in the U.K. thought it was an excellent idea to IMPORT this plant from hell and stick it in the ground at Lullingstone Castle and The World Garden in England.
One person commented doing something this crazy is akin to importing velociraptors, and I agree.
Here are my questions: What would possess someone to think this is a good idea? Presumably, several people had to sign off on the idea… How do you convince ordinarily sane people to do this? And then how do you bring it from Australia to the U.K.? No doubt someone was hired for this express purpose. How much did they have to pay this person? What airline agreed to fly this cargo? How could The World Garden’s insurance company possibly sign off on this liability?
So many questions…
Right now, you’ve got a question of your own… This is interesting, but how does ANY of this pertain to online marketing?
You’ve read this far… now imagine you send the above story to your list. Do you think they will open an email that says, “World’s most dangerous plant?” Or, “The suicide plant is here?”
You copy and paste this story, and you’ve already done a great job of entertaining your readers. The odds of them opening your following email, regardless of topic, are now much more significant because they enjoyed reading this one.
And at the bottom, you can tie this story to anything you’re promoting. You don’t even need to be clever about it, either.
If you’re placing your call to action after the story and before your name, there should be a segue, like this: ‘Speaking of painful experiences, you have less than 48 hours to take advantage of our once a year sale and then it’s all over. Don’t miss out and get burned.’
See? It’s not even clever, but it works.
And if your call to action is in the P.S., you don’t even need to connect it to the story.
P.S. Have you taken our survey yet? Today is your last chance to let us know what you want next.
While I wouldn’t recommend using stories unrelated to your niche daily, it is a great way to shake things up, get more open, and keep your readers entertained.
Each time you see a story online that you can’t get out of your head, odds are other people would like to read about it, too. You might even make it a regular feature of your newsletters, such as calling it “WTF Thursdays” or “You Ain’t Gonna Believe This Mondays.”
And if you can find a way to tie the story to your call to action, it’s even better. But don’t strain to do it. Sometimes it’s enough to be exciting and then remind them in the P.S. to take some action.
Incidentally, if you think stories like this are hard to find, one quick search just gave me these subject lines:
“Candy cane shortage rocks world”
“North Korea bans laughing for 11 days.”
“58-foot long pedestrian bridge vanishes.”
Here is my secret formula for story emails. Follow this outline, and your emails will get read, I promise.
Are you worried that people will think you’re not professional if you use stories unrelated to your product?
I wouldn’t be. People love stories, and they’re not going to be upset when you send them something INTERESTING in their email.
But if it’s vital to you, then create a persona. Let this persona “hijack” your email account once a week, and then let them go crazy.
People want to be entertained and distracted, so go for it! Be the one who tells stories and watch your open rate climb sky-high.