I have not yet seen an email selling campaign fail. Not in any industry.
What I have seen, very often, is a business needing an email selling campaign, but not implementing it. Despite this being the least expensive, least technical, and easiest campaign to produce.
The most common complaint is that there isn't enough time. That's because the business proprietor wants to produce the best email marketing campaign in the world when just a simple email, about once each month, would work wonders.
This constant quest for BEST is the bane of our small business lives. This video attempts to address that issue, and cast some light on the challenge, in the hope that you won't fall prey to it. It's short, and I hope, to the point.
There is one final hurdle to deal with before we get to actually sending an email purposefully designed to earn money.
This hurdle has nothing to do with emailing itself, or even your business, but rather deals with the innate resistance that all of us human beings face when confronted with any change.
Who you think you are right now results from many years of different experiences and different relationships. Good experiences and really bad ones, good relationships and really bad ones. Those relationships are not just with people, but also with our businesses, with our successes and our failures. Especially the failures.
We are also the result of our education, whether it's formal or informal, and we tend to pay a lot of attention to what we "know" is right. Many of the "facts" we carry in our heads are not facts of all.
When I went back to my old boarding school in Port Elizabeth a few years ago, I discovered that the immense hall we kids used for meals and assemblies had been turned into a crèche.
I remembered it as a huge space. It probably still is to a 10 year old. But, it really is tiny.
On a slightly different note, Mrs Carruthers’ son Kris is at Oslo university majoring in English. I have just completed a course detailing a new way of writing emails, very informal. The presenter shared a 3000 word email in this new style.
I asked Kris to look at, to inspire him about grammatical perfection not being quite as important as the University might make out. He gave it back to me one hour later with red notes all over it, detailing the many writing faults, and why he could never accept writing like this.
He is right from an academic perspective but the email writer was not trying to pass an exam. He was trying to earn money. That same email earned more than $1 million in a single sending to his community.
For now, ignore everything that anybody, other than me of course, tells you about writing emails. The detail, the chase for perfection, will stop you from even starting.
Ignore, for now, what time to deliver them, and what the best day of the week is, and how to structure a great subject line, and what words convert best, or anything else. Don’ t worry about which is the best email service provider to use. Ignore the detail.
Otherwise you will never start. There are too many unknowns for you right now. And not a single one of them is remotely close to the problem of writing just one email, no matter how sucky.
When we start with marketing and selling we are pretty clueless. There should be no shame in that. And yet, there is. We’re simply starting a new journey, Usain Bolt did the first time he ran a race, with no clue about whether he would be good or not.
We don’t trust anyone else to do this work for us. Hell, how tough can it be to write just one email. We know we can do this ourselves. And we can.
But most of us never get to it. Our writing never seems quite as right as we want it to be. So it never passes our internal censor. Mine is the English teacher I had in High School. And so that simple email takes on a new life as Satan. WE WILL NOT RELEASE ANYTHING THAT IS NOT PERFECT.
I know a whole lot of struggling business owners with that mantra.
I know a bunch more, way richer than me, who prefer to get the work out, as best they can in the time they have available.
Simply write one email, to one person, focused on some facet of this problem she has, that you solve. That's it. It really is as easy as that.
Liz Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, one of the New York Times bestselling books a few years ago, wrote a wonderful book about her career, and how difficult it was to write that book, and, frankly, anything else. Speak to anybody who wants to write for a living and they will tell you that the toughest thing they face whenever they sit down is to actually get the words out of their heads and onto paper, or into their machine.
Their focus is always to write perfection, for the words that land on the page to be a much cleaner version of the Scrabble in their heads, and even worse, the Scrabble that they right the first time out.
And Liz says something which I found to be genius. "Done" is better than good. Notice, no mention of best. And my experience has been that any words on the page better than no words on the page. I've long used a daily writing program, online, to help me get words onto the page. And one of the recommendations there is that if you're stuck, as I often am, just to repeat a word until a new word occurs to you.
It sounds like cheating, but it isn't. It's just opening the tap.
I think that one of the reasons most people never get round to using email marketing, is because we each want to be best at everything that we do. But how do you define "best" when sending an email? If somebody is in trouble, any email, no matter how badly written, that gets closer to solving the problem, will be welcome.
If you fall off a ship in mid ocean, a lifebuoy would be welcome. A lifejacket may be better. Hell, a simple plank could save your life. At the time like that nobody has time to build the world's best lifebuoy.
Which gets me to the point I want to make about email marketing in particular, and business in general. "Best" is a very personal perspective. Your best might be my worst. The chase for “best” doesn't have a great deal to do with your business success. But the chase to just get things ”Done" is going to transform your future.
Ultimately, a fast decision, even for a process or system you know is not the best is much better than years spent investigating every system before starting.
Money earned this month, even if not very efficiently, is infinitely better than money earned three months down the track, no matter how efficiently. And that's because every business survives from month to month, at first, at least until it's built a war chest, a reserve. That reserve buys us the time we need to find the best solution.
But even then, “best” is hard to pin down. When we first start to investigate something new, something outside our comfort area, something like marketing, for instance, we don't know enough about it. We don't know the variables, we don't understand the dynamics, and this means that we actually have no idea what we need or want.
Small business is urgent enough that we don't have 12 months to investigate.
At this point, almost any option is better than no option. The mere fact that you’re working through a marketing process, for instance, learning from the accumulated knowledge and practice built into the software that you choose, means that you are progressing faster than you can imagine.
My experience has been that almost any product is better than no product. And after six months of working with any one product, you are infinitely more knowledgeable about this new field, and able to make an educated choice about a better solution – if you can find one.
Choosing the wrong software does not carry with it the kind of commitment one might need when looking appropriate office space, where you are locked in for 3 to 5 years. You can change software on a whim.
I faced this a few months ago, paying for three concurrent email marketing service, trying to choose which of the two I should drop. I didn't drop any. The time involved in making the decision was too expensive, much more expensive than the money actually spent on the use of each.
I still have all three. Each doing a slightly different job. And when I have enough time to streamline it, I will do so. In the meantime, each is making me money in its own way.
This is important because it's not just the choice of product that you face. It's the choice of the words that you going to use when you write emails. Or the choice to use a freelancer to write those words for you.
Here's the thing, nobody cares enough for you to need to worry about any of these.
Over more than 20 years of writing, almost every day, I found that no matter how much I struggle over a particular piece of writing, it gets as much criticism and accolade as a piece of writing done on the spur of the moment, in a fit of anger or laughter.
You are looking for a routine that generates between 400 words and 600 words each month, at first, no matter what those words are or how they arrive.
As long as you're telling a story of some sort, relevant to your readers problems, they will open your emails and read them. Almost irrespective of how badly you write.
And if you really are uncomfortable about your writing, if you know that you don't know how to write well, then give it to somebody else who might do a better job. Maybe not the job you would do if you were Hemingway, but so what.
As Liz Gilbert says, a bad email that gets DONE, that gets sent, is a whole lot better than a great email that never leaves your desk because it’s not Shakespeare.
The Tyranny of chasing Best is simply this: Nothing gets done because it is never good enough. That’s bad for your income.