Why Ron Swanson hates your emails

“Parks and Recreation” just might be my all-time favorite TV series.

I’ve seen every episode at least 4 times. (Thanks, Netflix!)

Ron Swanson MAKES that show.

He always tells it like it is. No punches pulled.

And one of the best Ron Swanson quotes ever is this:

“There’s only one thing I hate more than lying… Skim milk. Which is water that’s lying about being milk.”

I’m seeing a lot of “skim milk” emails in my clients’ autoresponder sequences these days.

They look like good emails. They have intriguing subject lines. The copy looks reasonable.

But when you actually start to read the emails, something is clearly… off.

They say things like, “Call me crazy, but I can’t believe you haven’t bought product X yet!” Or “That’s it, I’m done talking to you about product Y. Get off the fence or miss out!”

There are elements of a good pitch in some of these emails, but they leave you feeling empty and unsatisfied.

Skim milk all the way.

The problem here is that these emails are based on templates.

Now, I don’t have a huge problem with templates. They’re a great time saver, and following a proven structure is way better than just winging it and hoping for the best.


Templates are by their very nature generic.

When a copywriter creates a template, the first thing he has to do is go through and rip out all the parts of the email that are specific to the audience.

That way you buy the template, and you can just fill in the blanks with your own product and benefits.

The promise is:

“Just follow this proven formula, and KACHING goes your PayPal account.”

Except it doesn’t work that way.

In copywriting, WHAT you say is infinitely more important than HOW you say it.

Most templates are all about the “how.”

So if you’re going to use templates, look for ones that are less fill-in-the-blanks and more like high-level outlines.

The templates in Perry Marshall’s Autoresponder Bootcamp are a great example of this.

For example, there’s one called “Spoon Feed” that’s perfect to use after someone opts in to get your ebook.

Here’s how it opens:


Hi [FirstName],

This [tip, trick or secret[ will [bottom-line benefit].

[restate the benefit with more detail and/or real-world example]



It’s more work to use templates like this.

That’s because a good template is a springboard, not a crutch.

No template writer knows your market and list better than you do.

You can’t just fill in a couple of words here and there and expect your list to respond.

But if you use templates that pull out your best stories and help you hit your market’s hot buttons, you’ll be smiling when you see all the extra sales.

Plus, Ron Swanson won’t show up at your house.

For more on Autoresponder Bootcamp (one of my top 3 recommended email trainings) go here: