Way back early in my career I worked at an urban weekly newspaper called the Georgia Straight. At a time when it was just barely becoming respectable earning agency advertising business despite a classified section jammed with questionable services being offered, the young group of “hip urban socialites” that worked there prized their status on “the guest list”. Seems we often got free and privileged entry to concerts, club events and festivals in exchange for a discounted ad buy.
Being on the list was cool.
Today you live or die by our database and list. Or at least we should. In business nothing happens until someone buys something. And it’s that list that is often at the heart of the connection that eventually leads to the sale.
But lists have fallen a little out of favour. Tarnished by online and telemarketers buying contact info to push product to unsuspecting prospects with little or no relationship, we’ve all seen the result of these actions: overflowing in mailboxes, and phones that ring during dinner. Can Spam and CASL legislation did much to rectify this but in its wake scared off many marketers without well documented permission based email lists.
Based on my research most people willingly accept 6-10 newsletters, of which a core 3-4 are truly valued. The balance gets looked at occasionally, and the others that somehow started showing up despite never having opted in, lurk suffering from opt out neglect. Is it any wonder many businesses have given up on their list? And yet, the list is where opportunity exists. The list is what generates sales. That list and your database is what your business will live and die by.
In my mind, the list is a two-part mindset or SERVICE and VALUE.
SERVICE: You should exist to serve the people on your list. If you are obsessed with finding ways to grow their capabilities and connections, you have the right mindset. Frankly that’s why I’m obsessed with creating new content of service weekly for readers and not missing deadlines.
VALUE: You should create value frequently for those on your list. Sometimes that value is in exchange for love (they share the content online, tell you how much they value what you do) and sometimes that value is in exchange for money (they might buy a book, a course, hire you to consult or speak)
If you are not going to subscribe to the mindset of service and value, using your list to sell will fail.
Media drives the model of list development. All media, whether it be social media or earned media needs to ultimately drive viewers back to your owned content on a website or blog, and the opportunity to opt in to a list in my view. A regular newsletter is where you may eventually earn the right to sell. But only if you nurture the relationship and continue to offer value. The model is actually pretty simple: Media drives subscribers, and subscribers are part of a community that will eventually lead to the opportunity to sell.
Does it happen overnight? Not a chance. It’s a slow and steady stream. I’ve been doing this newsletter for over four years, every Sunday morning. I’ve never missed a deadline. It is what drives my business. Probably my only self-criticism is that I haven’t taken enough advantage of the opportunity to sell. But for me lots of value and soft sell works.
Do you have a list/database? Are you currently doing an enewsletter? Do you use the service and value mindset? I’d love to hear about what’s working, or what’s not.