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17 Aug 2011
I've never claimed to be a marketing expert, but sometimes people leave me no choice.
Last week I got a note from a friend who works at a national non-profit which is an umbrella organization for many local chapters, which we'll call the ABC. (The details are disguised for reasons that will shortly be apparent.) The national organization has contact information for most of the chapter members, so they can send them the magazine. They've asked for e-mail addresses, although they haven't done much with them so far. They also run mailing lists for the chapter officers and the like.
So in last week's note, the friend said that they were thinking of starting an online newsletter, and would it be OK to send it to every address they have, or at least send an invitation to every address they have?. Of course not, that's Bad Marketer Syndrome.
(BMS is the inability to imagine that everyone in the world isn't thrilled to hear everything you have to say. It is the most reliable way to identify an incompetent marketer.)
I said: I have no trouble understanding why you would like to blat mail out to every e-mail address you can get your hands on. But I haven't seen any reason why the recipients of this missive would want to get it. If I got this out of the blue, here's how I would read it:
Hi! We're the ABC! We have a new newsletter! We want to send it to everyone! We will imagine that we are engaged with all the people who get it! Then we can ask for more money!
I pointed out that if they do that, lots of people at large mail providers will hit the spam button, and they'll quite correctly find themselves blocked.
So I asked, what's this newsletter going to be about? Ah, um, er, they have some ideas but they haven't figured that out yet.
So, putting on my less-bad marketer hat, I opined: If you want this to work, find a dozen opinion leaders, culled from places like the officers mailing list, and ask if they'd be willing to review and comment on some sample issues, including whether they'd like to get more like them, and if they think the members of their chapters would like to get them, too. Then mock up a couple, send them around, and see if the answer to both questions is yes. If not, iterate until it is, which might take a while. Once you've done that, now you have a defensible basis to invite people on the mailing lists, and perhaps try the members of a few chapters where there's a leader who likes it.
If this is too much trouble, how realistic is it that this whole project is worth the effort?
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