Last night, I spent an hour clearing out my Gmail account. I realized I was subscribed to just way too many lists and it had become mind clutter.
I hate clutter.
Clutter kills creativity. Every time I’ve cleared out space in my life — either on a computer or physically, my creativity exploded with new ideas.
I un-subbed from 33 lists.
Some subscriptions were with copywriter lists, a few well-known, household-type names and others not so well-known. Also included were sales trainers, small biz marketers and an Infusionsoft guru (I won’t ever join Infusionsoft).
As I gleefully unsubbed and batch-deleted all these emails (it went from over 9K in my inbox to 4917), I was feeling better and better about life in general.
And yes, I know that’s a helluva lotta emails but I had to start somewhere. I just have been focusing on other things (like making money) instead of doing my own admin work (which isn’t nearly as fun but necessary).
So who did I keep and why?
Once again, I thought about Ben Settle (whose list has my *real* address) and why throughout the years, I’ve not pruned him from my life. I’m sure he’ll say it’s his dashing good looks and charm, but the real reason finally hit me this morning.
It’s because Ben tells stories. And they’re damn good ones.
The other copywriters and marketers usually had a formula like this: 5% – 20% of an attempt to connect with me – the subscriber – and then the rest was pure pitch.
But none of them were good story-tellers.
I’ve been tracking content marketing for over a decade. The main goal for developing content is this: tell a story and tell a good one.
However, I think many people still have no clue what that means. They don’t know how to tell a story, let alone a good one.
Instead, they focus on whatever it is they need to sell.
It’s like meeting a person at a party and the person asks what you do but you know they’re only asking to be polite. Their lack of genuine interest is obvious as they shift their eyes away from you as you’re talking.
Finally, as soon as you pause, they’ll do either one of two things: 1) Jump in and regurgitate their sales pitch to you or 2) quickly excuse themselves for a variety of reasons (bathroom, saw someone more interesting, a sudden urge to attack the food table, etc.).
That’s how I feel when I have email marketers send me an email that is focused more on them than telling a good story.
Notice I didn’t say “focused on me.”
Ben Settle doesn’t fake a “focus on me” pose in his emails. He’s too busy telling an interesting story. And within those stories are excellent tidbits of information on how to write decent emails. How to hook your audience. How to avoid the Time Vampires. How not to care. How to care in the right way.
These emails never bore me.
And the funny thing is, Ben talks more about unsubscribing from his list more than any other marketer I’ve known. Any.
In fact, Ben encourages people to unsub from his list.
All. The. Time.
Ticked off he’s sending too many emails? There’s the unsub button, cupcake. Click it and presto-chango… no more El Benbo in your inbox.
The guy loves it. In fact, he gets off on telling people to unsubscribe so much that I wonder if he just doesn’t promote tempting offers non-stop just so he can yell at a few people to get off his lawn when they complain.
I had two other well-known copywriters I used to follow religiously. Both are curmudgeonly and one can come across as downright nasty. One doesn’t have an email subscriber list but the other one does. I unsubbed from the latter because he’s forever arguing with individuals, both on Facebook and on his list. I un-followed both on Facebook.
But Ben is also seen as a bit abrasive by some. Why doesn’t he get the same treatment?
It’s complicated. Everyone connects with people for different reasons.
It could be the person reminds you of a friend from college. Or the kid who always made you laugh in your high school chemistry class. Or the girlfriend who doesn’t take any crap from anyone and loves herself in a good way.
But for me, I think the reason I enjoy Ben’s emails so much is because in a weird way, I feel respected.
Communication is a two-way street. Usually. But when you’re emailing a list daily (or weekly… or heaven forbid, monthly), you’re the one doing all the talking.
Think of yourself at a party. If you’re going to be doing all the talking, you better know how to draw the other person into your world.
You better know how to let them know they’re not alone in feeling a certain way or thinking certain thoughts. You connect with them by joining the conversation already going on in their head (thank you, Robert Collier).
And you respect them by not using them. By giving them something they can take home from the party, like a recommendation for a good mechanic, a tip on the best way to snag a ticket for an upcoming golf tournament, or a lesson on how to hold the attention of an information-overloaded reader.
Finally, you thank them.
This is part of making a person feel respected.
If you sell anything, let your customer know you appreciate their business. After all, they just parted with their precious greenbacks in order to get something from you. The least you can do is thank them.
Sometimes this might mean including a surprise in your email every once in awhile. Or mailing them something unexpected.
Whenever you do this, it will pay off big. Because so few businesses do this, it makes you stand out from the competition. It endears you to your customer. And endearing means loyalty.
So, email list owner… tell a good story. Respect me. And thank me every once in awhile. I’ll likely continue to buy from you and keep on reading.
And I’ll allow you to continue to live in my inbox.