Take Your Stupid List and Shove It.

The mania around “adding names to your email list” has gotten way out of control.

It’s absurdly bad business thinking. The jerkish teenage amateurism you are dying to plant an uppercut on.

So how did we get here?

And why are marketing gurus teaching you such stupid behavior?  Let’s take it from the top.

The web is a crowded place. There are literally trillions of web pages available for exploration across the interwebs.

  • Every minute more than 1,649,305 tweets get shared.
  • Every minute more than 3,472,225 photos get added to Facebook.
  • Every minute more than 2,060 brand new blogs are  created.
  • Every minute more than 52,488 minutes of video are added to YouTube.
  • Every minute more than 31,510 new articles are created by an online newspaper.
  • Every minute more than 3,645,833,340 new spam emails are delivered online.

You can sum it up by simply noting that every few minutes there are lots and lots (and lots) of new web content being created. New blogs. New articles. New videos. The popularity of key content sites like YouTube and Mashable has soared exponentially, generating literally billions of page-views each month.

With so much content readily available, it is a massive challenge to get noticed.

But being noticed is only the beginning of the relationship with readers. It’s much harder to get readers to return to your site then it is to have them find you via a targeted Google search.

That’s where building an email list comes in.

Experts figured out that if you could deliver your content directly to readers via their email inbox that would increase engagement and help you build a deeper relationship with people who could eventually spend money with you.

By continually sending relevant content, you stay top of mind and are hopefully the choice they remember when they’re looking to buy something that you sell.

Which, frankly, isn’t all together a bad idea. Ideas, engagement, relationship — they are all great ways to build a lasting business.  So building a list of people who can benefit from your encouragement insight is a good idea.

But like a lot of good ideas, the difference in the results that you get has a lot to do with the attitude that you bring to the activity. Which is where the idea of “building a list” most often goes sideways. The list itself doesn’t really matter.

The list is just a row of names and email addresses.

It’s just a piece of paper.

What really matters is that you treat those names like the individuals they are. They’re people. They’re not just lines on a spreadsheet. They’re not just a benchmark for you to pretend like you’re better than someone else. They’re not dollar bills.

They are people. People who live and breathe like you do. People who have dreams and frustration. People who want to be successful but don’t always know how.

And that matters, because you might be able to help them. But not if you just refer to them like a “list”.

Because that’s how a jerk talks.

They don’t care about other people; they just care about themselves.

If that’s you, change. Start caring about people around you. Start investing in empathy.

Look beyond the surface for the pain that is crippling others from being amazing.  It’s not a “list”, it’s a moment for you to market kindness.

That’s pretty amazing. Isn’t it?

  • http://www.PuraVidaMultiMedia.com/ CAELAN HUNTRESS

    I heard that Larry Page once said if you took all of the content from the beginning of time, to 2005, that amount of content is now being created online every 48 hours.

    Wading through that firehose efficiently can only be done by segmenting. But you’re right, Dan, if we refer to our prospective customers only as our ‘list,’ we are forgetting that they are people. Individual people.

    And people can tell when you’re just shilling to a list.

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      Well noted, Caelan. When we forget that people are individuals — not lists — we can all-too-easily lose our way.


  • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

    I agree Dan, but it’s a little frustrating to watch the coldest, and most abusive, marketers make a killing with their lists. It’s tough to understand why so many people continue to get burned over and over and still follow the IM gurus so loyally. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving up. I send a newsletter and avoid the shady marketing tactics. I’ll keep pushing forward, just several paces behind the big shots pushing the latest and greatest every couple of days with very little value and ever increasing prices.

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      Such good thinking, Brian. Such honesty. I like your attitude Keep doing it the right way. You might not make a million bucks over night, but you will position yourself to be amazing…


  • http://twitter.com/mayeralen Alen Mayer, CSP

    Great article, Dan (as always!)
    It is so easy to lose the focus that we are dealing with people, not with lists of names. Thank you for reminding us!

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      Thanks, Alen, It’s a reminder to me first. :-)


  • BarrierBreakers

    I love this Dan! And I’m with Brian…it’s hard to watch all the brash, noisy, cheesy sales tactics reaping the rewards. I was tempted, almost persuaded that it was the ‘right’ way, as I want to get my ideas out there and support as many people as possible. But I got over that! And have vowed to stay true to self and trust that I’ll reach those of a similar, less-frenzied mind by doing this.

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      Good decision. It’s easy to be distracted by people talking about all the ways to “make lots of money growing your list”. But you need to look beyond the scammy side of this type of thing and believe that relationships matter more than names on a piece of paper…


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