Bear Pants and the Inbox: Communication Gone Wrong

Bear pants and the inbox: a tale of communication gone wrong

Most peeps in small business — ESPECIALLY creatives, the bulk of the peeps I work with — think they’re annoying the ever-loving snot out of their customers by contacting them.

They send e-mails out to their peeps MAYBE twice a month, more like once a month, or maybe…okay, let’s be honest.  Twice a year.  

They freak about what to say (my ultimate newsletter template can help), how to say it, and how much they’re “bothering” their peeps.

Let me tell you a story about bear pants.

See, I bought these pants for a friend’s birthday.

I don’t normally shop in Eddie Bauer, but I unwittingly unleashed the hounds with this purchase.  Turns out, I bought a flannel-printed marketing deluge.

I’ve gotten multiple e-mails every week detailing the sales, promotions, specials, and just-for-me offers Eddie has waiting.

15 e-mails in 3 weeks.

15.  E-mails.  In 3 weeks.

You think YOU’RE being pushy or annoying when you softly raise your hand to say, “Hey, I’m alive, you might want to buy my stuff” — you’re not.

You’re hardly making a noise, digitally speaking.  We’re all drowning in message after message after message.  You can choose to withdraw from the game entirely, which will likely result in your business imploding, or you can increase both the quality and frequency of your communication.

Share your secrets.  Tease your peeps with new offerings.  Make offers they can’t refuse.  Find the best articles or games or graphics humanly possible.  Make ’em laugh.  Make ’em cry.  Encourage them to come see you or meet with you or play with you.

Most importantly, make your marketing calendar and then stick to it.

Clearly, Eddie Bauer is a corporate entity with a pretty killer marketing plan that involves sending one bajillion e-mails per season.  They’re all basically the same: SAVE, SAVE, SAAAAVE

You’re a smaller, faster-moving ship, so you can be more creative than that.

Start a hashtag.  Hold a flash sale.  Meet your customers in person.  Attend an event or two.  Host an event.  Accept a speaking gig and give everyone in the audience a free prize for coming — in exchange for their e-mail addresses.   Double your newsletter open rate with one tweak.  There are countless ways to be more insightful, more fun, and more effective than by sending out a deluge of e-mails.

Just don’t think you can get away with sending a single communication missive. 

You can’t expect your promotion to work on the first try.

One e-mail, one Instagram image, one Facebook post and you’re SOLD OUT is what everyone hopes for, but it’s a little like wishing one green smoothie would make you lose twelve pounds.  Unless you’re consuming that green smoothie with a side of E. Coli, it’s not going to happen.  Push yourself to communicate more often than you find comfortable and your peeps juuuuuust might start to be able to maybe hear you if they put their ears to the ground and listen closely.

Your peeps probably can’t hear you.

If Eddie Bauer is burying me in e-mails, think of what happens to peeps who actually LIKE that store.  They probably have Patagonia and The North Face and Buff People Who Enjoy Hiking Weekly crowding up their inboxes, too!  It’s harder to get your message heard than ever before.

So go ahead and say something interesting.  Talk about it more frequently than your brain tells you is acceptable.

And please, don’t go buying any bear pants. 😉

P.S. You’re right.  Marketing sucks.