The Highlights: Building New Relationships with Direct Email Marketing

At this month’s Swerve event, Jason Drass, Co-Founder of Bull & Beard, spoke on a different email marketing strategy: creating new relationships through cold, unsolicited direct emails.

After earning a master’s degree in Communication, Jason spent most of the last 25 years successfully producing hundreds of projects including websites, web & mobile applications, streaming media, and digital marketing.

Jason co-founded Bull & Beard as an “Agency Collective” that matches brands with specialized agencies and trusted resources across the advertising, marketing, & digital spectrum.

Jason Drass | Swerve

When many of us think about email marketing, we think of permission-based email marketing. Those are the emails we get from the grocery store with their latest coupons, or our favorite blogger sharing her latest posts. These are emails we’ve opted-in to receive.

“Email marketing has gotten a bad rep over the years. We get volumes of email everyday and a lot of it is unwelcome,” says Jason.

You can’t talk about email marketing without talking about the “pink elephant” in the room: SPAM.

Email has become a tool that we use daily for business communications.  Jason describes these daily emails as the processed meats we’ve incorporated into our lives – ham, turkey, bacon – all things we deem acceptable for the most part…
Swerve | Center for Creative Economy

Spam, on the other hand, has gotten a bad rap because it’s invaded the category of everyday foods we consider desirable – like the daily, unsolicited emails that we all get. The emails we don’t expect.

During Jason’s talk, he covered the process of planning and executing direct email marketing campaigns. The purpose of direct email outreach is to build new relationships, and change the status of the relationship from not knowing one another to considering that you may have a solution to a problem they have.


The planning process includes:

  • Building your target list through research on platforms like LinkedIn
  • Developing the copy of your email from the research you gathered (make sure it’s personalized!)
  • Deciding how often you want to email your target list

Tools for building your list include LinkedIn, social media, communities you’re a part of, or even a quick search for a company or person.


The execution of your direct email marketing campaign is picking the tools that work for you, setting up the campaigns, sending them out and tracking.

There are plenty of tools available to automate the process of setting up campaigns with the ability to track how it’s doing. Jason uses Woodpecker. It gives you the ability to set up your campaign and connect your email account to send emails directly from you, one at a time.

Jason placed emphasis on tracking your campaigns, so you can look at what’s working and what’s not, and then use that information to better optimize your next campaign.

Pulling it together

Sending cold emails is about starting a conversation with someone. Don’t think of direct emails as spamming someone; think of it as a way to do new business development and start a new relationship.

“Trying new things is a great way to retrain your thinking and focus on the things that will help you grow your business.”
-Jason Drass

We had a great Q&A session and were fortunate that  Robby Berthume, a Bull & Beard Co-Founder, was present, and jumped in to answer questions as well.

Swerve members will find Jason’s presentation and the Live stream from the event on the Swerve Facebook Community group page! To find other events and expand your network, be sure to follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

We’re looking forward to seeing you at our next Swerve event on Thursday, April 18th as Sunny Su will present Growing Your Business –By Design. Sunny is an award-winning industrial/product designer and executive design director whose work has brought success and scale to both the earliest ventures and largest of enterprises. He is the Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Paradigm Innovation in Raleigh, NC, where they reimagine how we live, work, & play—one brand at a time.

2 comments on “The Highlights: Building New Relationships with Direct Email Marketing

  1. Deb Klaus on

    Great recap! Sorry to have missed out on the live event. I’ll be checking out woodpecker — it sounds intriguing.

    • Center for Creative Economy on

      Hi Deb! We’re so glad you enjoyed the recap. Jason was amazing and provided great tips and tools. We’d love to catch you at the next Swerve event in April!


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