12.17.2012

Why Marketing Experts Are Wrong About Not Buying Email Lists.

Forget everything you’ve heard from marketing gurus about how you shouldn’t being buying email lists.  They’re dead wrong.  

The problem isn’t the list you are using. And it’s not the fact that you haven’t already interacted with anyone on that list.

The problem isn’t about needing permission to deliver a marketing message. And it’s not that you are paying money for names on a sheet of paper.

Those aren’t problems — regardless of what you hear from “branding gurus”.

The problem is your message.

It’s sucks. And so everything else about your marketing feels awkward and insignificant. But that doesn’t mean that your problem is a list with names on it.

Those are “fighting words” for many in the marketing community. The idea of permission marketing is widely accepted as a “best practice” when delivering marketing messages.

(That means that you only send marketing messages to people who have “asked” to receive those messages or those you have permission from to deliver your marketing to.)

At face value it’s hard to argue against the value of that philosophy.  After all, we all get frustrated by “junk mail” — whether it hits your mailbox or your inbox.

But it’s flawed marketing strategy.

In fact, you could call it down right stupid business thinking.  A flawed diagnosis.

The problem isn’t the permission you think you need, but the message that you deliver.

Let’s take this from the top.  There are two basic messages that you don’t need permission to deliver:

  1. When the message is unbelievably awesome OR
  2. When you are saving people from incredible disaster.

At any time for any reason to any person, you never need permission to deliver either of those messages.

An awesome message is always relevant.

Think through the scenario:

You are sitting in your house having a late dinner with your family when the door bell rings. As you answer the door, you see a man in a suit and tie holding an over-sized check. “Congratulations,” you hear. “You have just won the the $20 million dollar Clearinghouse Sweepstakes”. For a few moments you are breathless.

You first reaction is never: “Come on guys. What in the world? How rude. I was just having dinner with the family when you guys decided to barge up to my door and hand me a check for $20 million.”

When you get an unbelievably awesome message you didn’t give permission to receive you never get upset. You are grateful and breathless and feel like the luckiest person in the world.

You don’t need permission to be a hero.

Think through the scenario:

You’ve had to work triple-shifts due to chaos at the office so you’ve been living on Red Bull and coffee just to keep your eyes open. When you finally get home, you turn on the oven and sink into the cushions of the couch while you wait for the oven to heat up. You fall deep asleep unaware that you accidentally dropped a towel into the oven starting a fire.

You are fast asleep when you someone driving down your street sees the smoke from your windows and breaks down the door. “Wake up. Wake up. Your house is on fire.” Those are the first words you hear after being shaken awake.

Your first reaction is never: “What? Get out of my house. What are you doing? Do you know how little sleep I have had over the last few days”?

When you get saved from incredible disaster you didn’t give permission to be saved from you never get upset. You are grateful and breathless and feel like the luckiest person in the world.

The message is what makes the difference.

Buying a list of people has (almost) nothing to do with the impact of your marketing.  Of course you need to pay attention to the person you are targeting.

You need to have an ideal client in mind and only message people that fit the profile.  (That’s just an exercise in discipline).

Buy a list.  Buy a few of them.  It’s not about the list.  Success has everything to do with what you have to say.

Fix that.

(And ignore the experts while you’re at it.)


  • http://twitter.com/PeterSterlacci Peter Sterlacci

    Absolutely agree with this one Dan. It does come down to the message and within that message do you ‘engage’ or ‘disengage’ others. Put yourself in the shoes of your readers and try see if your message actually makes sense. But most importantly create messages that have impact rather then just making more unneeded noise. There is waaaaaaaay too much noise out there and I just want to turn it off.

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

      There is way too much noise out there. And it leads to frustration for everyone — the sender and the person with the full inbox.

      Dan

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