How to write an email to stop the toilet roll hoarding crisis

A friend of mine forwarded me an email she’d received from a toilet roll supply company. They’re a subscription service, and people order their loo paper online – she has for years.

They’ve found themselves front-and-centre in this whole panic-buying of their product which, on the surface could be a good thing – they’re in demand. But they’re also facing the possibility of losing long-term customers if they don’t speak with them.

So they sent this email… and I loved it because of its approach. It’s on-brand, it’s advisory, and it cements the relationship.

Here’s what they wrote, with my comments in italics.

“Hi everyone,

You’ve probably seen the news that toilet paper is being wiped off the shelves with some panic buying. We want to acknowledge that these are crazy times. We feel it too.”

That’s a good start. A personal start, and a connection with their audience, both in terms of the shared experience, and the shared response.

“We’ve marked our site as sold out of toilet paper to reserve stock for subscribers who are due to bill in the coming weeks.”

This is key – we are deliberately pushing away people so we can keep servicing your needs. Why? Because you trust us.

“We understand uncertainty is scary, and doing something helps you feel a bit better, but please, don’t bring your delivery forward if you don’t need to. This will help us manage our stock levels while we are working hard with our production team to get back to normal.”

After acknowledging the emotional side of this whole thing – and let’s be honest, this completely driven by emotion – they both provide advice, and the reason for it. And it’s another chance to remind subscribers that they’re working hard in the middle of this. Why? To keep things stable.

“You don’t need to take any action from this email, we just want to get in touch and give you an update.”

Good. It can be off-putting to add things to people’s to-do lists.

“In the meantime, please think about how we can all do our bit to encourage kindness, empathy and calm. If you have spare rolls, see if your neighbours need some. Go and support your favourite Chinese restaurant. Watch some puppy videos.”

This is on-brand for them. They’re a sustainable business, which promotes the value behind what it does. And in this case it works because this is the voice they often use. If this were to come from the Government or a corporate supermarket, it would fail. Badly.

 

So that’s how to do it. You can deliver updates that go beyond the factual, while reinforcing your brand and keeping your long-term customers feeling like you care. And they did it in the middle of a crisis. I tip my hat to you copywriters of “Who Gives a Crap.” Yes, that’s their name.

 

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