Building Relationships, and Anticipation, One Email at a Time

by Smartie on April 1, 2010

What if this conversation about email marketing between PR pro Rebecca Coleman and marketing mastermind Dave Charest mated with this post from Copyblogger on Houdini Blogging? Let’s get them marrrrrried and imagine their spawn!

Dave and Rebecca talked smartly and candidly about how most email lists, really your most precious commodity, sit unused for months at a time until you need your list to buy something (this could be anything–theater tickets, widgets, you name it).  Dave astutely observes,

We just end up using e-mail marketing as a form of advertising that eventually just turns into spam.

And as someone whose inbox overflows with crap, yes it does feel like spam, even if I opted into it in the first place.

What Dave smartly recommends is treating your email list as someone you want to date. When someone signs up, they have given you permission to be in touch, and this, according to Dave, is much more intimate than fanning a Facebook page. They want you to write to them. So like any relationship, this needs to be nurtured.

Over on Copyblogger, AmberLee Fawson describes how Houdini, when first performing feats of unimaginable stunts, could get nothing more than a few polite claps. It was only when he learned the importance of the build that he became the famous Harry Houdini, and he left his audiences spell-bound. As AmberLee so rightly points out, people love anticipation.

Which brings us back to Dave and Rebecca over at Art of the Biz. Dave says,

What’s more important is what happens in those moments when you don’t have something to promote. It’s a lot like that friend who calls you only when they want something. You don’t really look forward to those phone calls do you? You see the number and think,  “great what do they want?” But when you’re giving, sharing and entertaining on a consistent basis, when you’re offering value to your audience, that adds a great strength when it comes time to ask for something back.

Now let’s bring these adorable kids together! What if we use the Art of the Biz tactics on wooing your email list and apply a little Houdini to it?

Let’s say you have a product launching in six months. Can you figure out an “editorial calendar” of emails to send over this six month period that can help build anticipation for what you have coming up? If it’s a CD launch, can you do a weekly email about musicians that inspired you or the album? At the end of the email, can you send them somewhere to download a free track?

Now they are getting to know you, your music and your influences. They are much more invested in what you are creating, because you aren’t asking them for anything. In fact, you are giving. And at each step you reveal a little more about what they can expect when your album drops. When that day finally comes, you have an avalanche of enthusiastic fans instead of polite applause.

So, how can you Houdini-fy your email list? How can you create your relationship, and offer up some serious anticipation for your next project? Share it in the comments!


Rebecca Coleman April 1, 2010 at 10:15 am

Nice aggregating, Karen! For me, I think the greatest power of social media is allowing people to see the “real person” behind the business. And in this way, as small businesses, we are on exactly the same ground as huge corporations like Starbucks. In fact, we might even have the advantage.
Blogs, YouTube Interviews, Twitter, and yes, e-newsletters–all wonderful tools for showing people who you really are. And if people connect with you on a different level than just your business (hey–I like sushi, too!), they are going to trust you more and be more willing to buy what you are trying to sell.
I’m not advocating this as a sales tactic. It needs to be genuine.

Dave Charest April 1, 2010 at 10:35 am

Looks like Houdini-fy is my new favorite word. =)

I like the way you tie it all together, Karen.

Another piece of ammo in the battle against spam email.

And just to add for those getting ready to try email in this fashion, it’s still uncool to just add people to your email list without permission. That’s a big no-no. It hurts more than it helps you.

People need to opt-in.

Thanks Karen.

Smartie April 1, 2010 at 10:55 am

Exactly, Rebecca. There are tons of free or inexpensive tools at our disposal to create these friendships. But it HAS to extend beyond SM platforms. I had an experience w/ a co that is excellent on Twitter, and has a great rep within the SM community, and when I made real world contact, they were just as rude as any large company. It was a serious eye opener.

Ah, Dave, this opt-in email is something I definitely want to get into. I find myself on lists I have never subscribed to *all* the time. And it doesn’t make me terribly happy when I find myself receiving them. I don’t agree with it, but then I have questions about the opt in process as well. I would love to explore this with you!

Susan Weiss April 1, 2010 at 11:56 am

Right on, Smartie, Rebecca, and Dave; if you “own it” you “opt in” and if you don’t”own it’ , “ya nevah gonna opt in”.

We just got a lot of “newbie’s” to theatre, who chose to “opt in” @ WTD10 in Queretaro, Mexico. Yay! Now we build, (and we are doing this “brick by brick” @ La Farbrica Centre for Contemporary Arts and Culture, there are lots of “existing” bricks to put plaques on).

Great ideas from all of you; I love this Smartie Blog too! I am a FAN!



Dave Charest April 1, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Thanks Susan.

Karen, you know where to find me. =)

Smartie April 1, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Thanks so much Susan! I am happy to have you here!

Dave, be afraid!

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