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(Ok, I do ... but perhaps less often than I could. These are the things that try to get in my way...)
Can you relate?
In small business, we know email marketing is essential. I know this as well as anyone - I work with clients to develop their email marketing and automation strategies.
And I rarely do it for myself and my own business.
I took a hard look at why. An unpleasant look.
I started with a short list. It grew longer the deeper I looked. And I saw that many of my “reasons” were excuses, in disguise. I’m sharing what I found, in case it helps you.
I see the same behaviour in other businesses around me. And I hear the same “reasons” from them.
Take a look at the list below, and see how many you identify with. I’ll be honest - it wasn’t pleasant to face some of these. You may not enjoy them, either.
13 reasons why I don't do email marketing as I should
Reason 1: "I don’t want to annoy people"
We’ve all had this experience: A big-name marketer gets my email address, and I wake up to find 15 emails by the next morning. Even now, I get this from some big names in my industry of small business marketing and automation.
I don’t want to be that person. (Let’s quietly ignore that this is a false argument; we can easily send 1 email a fortnight without being this person…)
And the consequence? Having already pre-judged the reaction from potential clients, I end up not making any offer to them at all.
Reason 2: "I don’t have enough content"
“Once I start setting expectations of daily or weekly content, I’ll have to live up to that. Can I create that much content? Can I find time for that much?”
It’s easier not to start than to pick up this load.
The consequence here is simple: I may have something helpful to say, but if I’m caught up in comparisons, I never say it. And in doing so, I’m denying my audience that help.
Reason 3: "My content is not good enough"
“If I step onto a public stage I’ll be judged as an expert. Everything I do must be flawless! But I know it won’t be. It’s easier not to step onto the stage than to face judgement.”
In my role, in my industry, I’m especially susceptible to this. It sounds a bit like this, “surely my clients and prospects will expect me to be perfect at the things I’m coaching them to do? And if I’m not, I’m clearly a fraud!”
This is silly, isn’t it? How much attention do you really pay to the emails you receive? Are you judging the copywriting of each? Or the timing? Do you silently condemn the sender if you feel this email didn’t flow perfectly from the one last week? Do you even remember the one from last week?
Or are you glad when you receive something that’s targeted to you, and is helpful?
Reason 4: "I’m not good enough"
The darker side of “my content isn’t good enough.” It's that niggling feeling that we aren’t good enough and that people will see this in our content.
It’s easy to compare oneself to the top expert and be disheartened by the gap. As small business owners or solopreneurs, we do many things at once. There’s no way we’ll be world-best at any of them. And yet, we somehow think we should be.
It’s easy to forget that we don’t have to be the world’s single best expert to help our customers. We just need to be good enough to deliver our service well.
Paradoxically, when I get content from one of those perfect marketers – you know, the type recording their video in the Manhattan penthouse they’ve hired just for the shoot - that’s a turn off for me. I relate to real people and their imperfections, struggle and the journey past it. Not to a plastic-perfect image of a person.
Easy to forget that when writing to clients and prospects.
Reason 5: "I don’t know what to say"
“I stare at a blank page and I can’t think of anything interesting or useful. After a while, I give up.”
Writer’s block is real and painful (and curable).
Reason 6: "I haven’t got it all worked out"
Ideally each email and every piece of content is part of a strategy. They’re communicating our values, our products. We’re finding and filtering people who relate with us and need our product or service.
It can be overwhelming to look ahead at all the other items I still need to create.
Reason 7: "My list is too small to be worthwhile"
I hear stories from big-name marketers: how they send emails to their list of 10,000 or 20,000 people (or more!) and see results pouring in, overnight. Impressive.
But that’s not most of us.
Most small businesses I talk with would be lucky to have 1-2,000 people on that list. And, if we’re honest, we quietly know that most of those people don’t remember who we are or care what we say. Our list is bloated with unengaged people who ignore us.
Creating content that we know will fall into a void is dispiriting.
Reason 8: "The return on investment takes too long"
I hear marketing experts describe a lengthy process. Building and warming lists, engaging prospects, long funnels. In some strategies, this is a 12, or 18-month process. That timeframe makes it easy to feel that a delay doesn’t matter. What's just one more week?
That view forgets that it isn’t 12 or 18-months until the first reward happens. Something small can start the next day. Even if it’s as simple as 2 small sales the next day, that still 2 sales that wouldn’t have been there.
And there’s that old saying about the best time to plant a tree. You know – 20 years ago. And the next best time? Now.
Reason 9: "I don’t have time"
Some experts have a staff member working full time at creating content. And these people make recommendations - post valuable articles 3 times a day on multiple platforms, email the list every second or third day with high-quality engaging content and so on.
I wish that was me. But it’s not me, and not my business. With a small staff, creating content is mainly up to me.
In the small business world, we don’t have that staffing luxury. The person creating content is also serving clients, managing the tax and quite probably suffering a caffeine overdose.
There just aren’t hours in the day to live up to those recommendations.
I find it easy to forget the big gap between 20 pieces of content per week and none. Creating 1 piece a week (or even a fortnight) can be the difference between our audience forgetting and remembering us.
And we don’t have to create fresh content all the time.
Reason 10: "The technology is too hard"
“I’m not technical. I get lost in all the tools and systems and configuration stuff!”
It’s one thing to find time to create content, it’s another to get it to our readers. And it’s easy to get overwhelmed in the technology.
I hear this a lot from clients and prospects, but this one is a strength of mine. I enjoy working out the details of automating the delivery of content.
What I show my clients is that a lot of these tools need minimal technical skills once they’re set up. Heck, I’ve watched a 65-year-old non-technical grandmother use these tools to get her content out.
Is the tech really the block?
Reason 11: "I lack discipline"
In our space we are constantly multitasking. And the traits that make us good at that also make us very prone to chasing squirrels and shiny objects.
How many of us have started out on a task or goal and lasted three weeks? Who hasn’t even lasted that long? I’ve started marketing goals more than once, myself. And I see people burst into my inbox, hang around for a few weeks, and fall silent.
The first week it’s interesting, but by the third week it’s a chore that might not have paid for itself yet, and something else shiny came along. Sound familiar?
This is a hard one to admit to ourselves, isn’t it? But go on, just quietly. (No-one can hear you.)
Reason 12: "Overthinking"
Sometimes it’s not a clear simple reason. I’ve found myself get caught up with wheels spinning around in my head; caught up overthinking and watching time pass.
Procrastinator’s rule of thumb: Avoid the challenging task by doing an easier, but still productive task.
Reason 13: "I don’t see any value in doing email marketing"
Ok. This one isn't me.
And thankfully this one didn’t come up often with others. Almost everyone I know in small business knows this isn’t the case.
But it’s what we tell ourselves when at least one of the other excuses is there. Especially when we don’t want to face it. It’s easier to blame something outside than to look at why we might be holding ourselves back, isn’t it?
I’ve met a handful of small business people who claim to believe email marketing can’t help their business. They may be right, though with all the industries I’ve seen benefit from email marketing, I have my doubts.
Still, most of us don’t use this as a reason (or an excuse).
What did I learn? What about you?
Honestly, many of these get in my way. (If I’m being really honest, just between you and I, most of them do at one time or another.) Even though I am a professional in the email marketing and automation space, it can be easier to teach than to do. And even when I know the answers to the excuses above, they’re still on-going challenges.
And they’re not just my challenges. It's been comforting to see many of the things I wrestle with are the same things others are. Comforting, and frustrating.