How can a single email earn $19,825?
It’s the power of vulnerability. I’m going to show it to you.
Be open with people, I said. Let your brand's fans in on the process. Show them the highs and lows of your own experience. Share screenshots and photos. The more they feel a part of this, the more they’ll want to be a part of it.
I’ve seen this strategy work so many times, in so many ways, and for good reason: Although our instincts are to hide our problems and challenges, those are the things that people CONNECT with! If you present yourself as unflappable and golden, you’re just being unrelatable.
Dave took this advice to heart — and then did something profound with it.
In the same week that he launched his campaign, his home nearly burned down. He decided to share all of that, in gripping detail, with his customers. The result: After one email, he told me, he received $18,735 in new investments — and even though the email never plugged his product, it also triggered $1,090 in sales.
I asked Dave if I could share all that data, and his original email, with you today. His reply: “Hell yeah dude! Vulnerability!”
Exactly! Here, below, is the email he sent. I think it’s perfection. And I hope it inspires you to open up even more.
As you know, we launched our SeedInvest crowdfund campaign last week (Jan. 3, 2021) in an effort to open O2 up for investment to our customers and community. What you haven’t heard is the story of how it all came about, and the (literal) firestorm that ensued right after we launched.
This is a true story. No names have been withheld, including mine - Dave Colina, O2 founder and CEO.
Last Thursday, Dec. 30, 2020, the SEC gave us final confirmation we were cleared hot and ready to publish our fundraise on seedinvest.com/o2 - a four-month grind of endless work, plus an extra 30 days of approvals and IRS clockwatching, but better late than never.
Thursday was also the day my fiance and I were driving back to our home in Colorado from Ohio, where we spent a lovely holiday with family. (That’s an 18-hour drive if you’re counting 🤢)
We pulled into a McDonalds as soon as I received the SEC notification. Grabbed a coffee, snagged some Wi-Fi, and initiated the crowdfund launch sequence. WOO HOO! All the work we’d put in over the last several months was coming together in one glorious moment. At Mickey D’s.
You know this feeling. Working your ass off for months to make something and then putting it out into the world. It’s what I love most about my job at O2.
I reached out to a friend at Forbes and they published an article on it almost immediately. It was awesome. I shared the news with the team on Slack - note Chris’s comment (purple arrow) about his hair. It’s one of those rare moments you want to last forever.
My lady and I got back on the road, and I felt a deep sense of relief and accomplishment wash over me. In a lot of ways, the hard work had only just begun - after all, crowdfunding is basically a big marketing campaign, but we’re selling company stock instead of O2. Even so, it took a tremendous effort to launch it and it felt good.
Then, all hell broke loose.
While I was riding high (in shotgun), I got a crazy text from Keri, a good friend and neighbor. She said our small town in Colorado was being evacuated due to a wildfire. I’ll never forget it. Because it’s burned in my brain, just like this:
On any other day, I would’ve been obsessed about such a massive - and massively important - business announcement. I mean, we’re crowdfunding to grow the business by giving our very own community an opportunity to invest and partner with us in this journey. That’s huge.
But, in that moment, I couldn’t think about anything else but our neighbors and our home. We had the pets (yep - 18 hours, with pets!), but everything else …
And, you know how the news works. They don’t show you the houses that aren’t burning. To us, on our tiny little screens as we hurtled toward home, it looked like our whole world was on fire.
We were glued to the news for the rest of the ride - Channel 7 local news live, streaming digital flames into the cabin of the car. There was a low point that evening when we were pretty sure we lost the house, and I distinctly remember both of us kind of looking at each other and tearing up.
If you didn’t catch the coverage, here’s a snapshot from The New York Times:
We fell asleep in a hotel in Topeka, KS, but not before every horrible what-if scenario you can imagine stampeded through our heads. I hadn’t checked my email once. I can’t remember the last time that happened.
The next day, our new CFO drove by my house and confirmed via phone it was still standing. It was the kind of bonding moment you wish you didn't need to have, but are still glad to have. He ventured through a broken, blackened neighborhood so he could tell us our fate, and it was a huge relief to see the house intact:
It’s hard to describe the mix of gratitude and grieving - at once so relieved, but aching at the same time for our neighbors, some of whom lived less than a mile away and lost everything.
It didn’t take Victoria and I long to decide to make a few financial donations and give whatever gear we had to help to the fire victims.
Then, once I had a moment to take a breath, I realized something - we just launched this huge crowdfunding campaign 24 hours ago and I had no idea how it was going!
It turns out, a VIP announcement email we sent to a few of our best customers and supporters (that’s you!) generated tens of thousands of investment dollars, and actually led to over $5,000 in sales revenue, too!
I can’t tell you how grateful I am to you - to our friends, fans, and diehard supporters. This made the weight of a few awful days disappear for a few wonderful moments. Here are the actual stats from the email, for the marketing nerds in the audience:
I also received confirmation from many of our existing investors that they’d be investing in this fundraise too, and before I knew it our fundraise was already in the six figures.
We arrived home on New Year’s Eve. The National Guard had blocked off several of our streets due to fire and debris. Below is aerial footage of the devastation. The black line is part of my regular jogging route - we live just a mile away from there.
We unpacked, and then we broke down. It’s hard to describe how we felt, but I can say we rang in the new year feeling incredibly fortunate.
The next day we raided our closets and filled three large garbage bags with clothes to donate along with our financial contribution. If you'd like to donate, click here to join my friend Luke’s campaign that’s already delivered over $300,000 directly to families who lost their homes.
We're accustomed to crazy at O2, but the last seven days will go down in history for me as the craziest ever, personally and professionally. That said, I’m grateful to have the O2 community - it’s things like this that show you what’s really important in life.
Thank you for reading this, and thank you for joining me on this journey. I'll continue to send updates like this if you enjoyed it. I look forward to hearing what you think.
PS: If you're not sure what the heck I'm talking about with respect to this SeedInvest raise, check out this link to explore being a part of the team. We'd love to have you.
Thanks again to Dave for letting me share that email!
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Cover credit: Getty Images / milehightraveler