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A Killer Message for Email Marketers

We’ve all been there; busy as can be with an overloaded inbox. You can guarantee that, mixed in with the email we want to receive, is a “hunt and kill”- CLICK HERE email, promising to change our lives if we just buy.

Yesterday, in my email box, there appeared a letter from a friend. After opening it, I could see this email was clearly an affiliate letter written in clean marketing copy.

I rolled my eyes.

In a fit of exasperation and New Year’s resolution, I had hit UNSUBSCRIBE on over 30 lists on New Year’s Day. But here it was again: the long-copy sales letter in my email box, insidiously asking me to CLICK HERE. This compelling copy was inviting me to attend a webinar to learn about sales from a master.

What made him a master? He was capable of selling $100,000 coaching packages. Wouldn’t I want to learn to do something like that? Well, then… CLICK HERE.

Truth be told: If you want to sell in today’s world, you must understand the world of the CLICK. As a student of online marketing, I’ve spent the last seven years studying the psychology, techniques, analytics, and platforms for making the modern dream of the four-day workweek come true. I launched over five products, did multiple list building activities, affiliated with others, and directed marketing efforts for multiple clients. Some have been successful, most have not—but here is the premise of my story:

Truth be told: If you want to sell in today’s world, you must understand the world of the CLICK

This guy didn’t want to teach me how to sell $100,000 coaching packages. He wants me to buy a $100,000 coaching package, and in so doing, I’ll see EXACTLY how he does it. And this makes me feel like prey. And, quite frankly, it makes me ill.

In my prior article, The Case for AntiGuruism  I tried to articulate our new craving for collectivism, collaboration, and inclusion as opposed to guru worship. And this long copy letter in my mailbox, while effective, is the engine of guruism.

Guru Profiteering

This sales model can be understood in this equation:

Vulnerability + Inadequacy + Guru Worship = Profiteering

Now I recognize it. This email is not the type of authentic communication that we crave. It’s modern sales hoodwinkery. And we are running down the proverbial aisle to learn how to do it. Today’s experts nod to the power of the email list (How big is yours?) and Facebook is monetizing on your event’s clicks. How will we transcend “hunt and kill” behavior? How will we replace guruism and the drive to outwit, dupe, and fleece the vulnerable?

I pose this question: If this modern sales method were to be a temporary aberration, what is its better replacement?

Dan Pink talks about cravings in his book Whole New Mind.  (Of course, Dan also wrote a brilliant book all about selling, called To Sell is Human.) He says that there are six new cravings in our modern world: Design. Story. Symphony. Empathy. Play. Meaning.

This list is the very definition of authenticity.  Whenever I am thinking about how to be authentic, especially in sales, I use this as a checklist: Am I creating value in one of these areas?

John Stepper gives a more elementary but directive example in his book Working Out Loud. John says that it is giving, a truly giving mentality that creates sales reciprocity:

“Working Out Loud starts with making your work visible in such a way that it might help others. When you do that – when you work in a more open, connected way – you can build a purposeful network that makes you more effective and provides access to more opportunities.”

What do you want in your inbox?

Jonathan Mead in his blog Paid to Exist  explains tribe building beautifully. He says it takes “Vision, Shared Purpose, Identity, Ideal Members: Field Recruits, Torchbearers and Ambassadors, and Cultural Engagement” to create a tribe.

Let’s combine these three ideas into a more enlightened sales equation:

Authenticity + Reciprocity + Tribe = Prosperity

In some respects, nothing has changed over time. The best buying experiences are those where we feel heard, respected, and as if we are receiving a gift. But now, more than ever before, we absolutely must take the hunter, the victim and shame out of the equation.

The best buying experiences are those where we feel heard, respected, and as if we are receiving a gift.

I challenge you to decide what you want in your email box. And to make sure that what you put in another’s box is transparently authentic, open, with a clear purpose that speaks honestly to the tribe you want to be a part of; beyond that, make it a gift.

Whether you are a single person or a part of a large organization, the game is the same. Be the person you want to meet, and strive to make sales the gift that brings prosperity to all.


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Ruth spent 25 years in the music industry. In that time she created a $10 mil distribution company where everyone was a contributing partner in the business. After selling that business she became a business coach, speaker, trainer and enthusiast for working with successful entrepreneurs and business leaders who are tired of task and employee management are ready to lead the work revolution. Schwartz chronicles her success in the book, The Key to the Golden Handcuff’s – Stop Being a Slave to Your Business. Tthe book gives entrepreneurs and executives a recipe to create a transparent, open-book company of their own design. Ruth is a member of Toastmasters, the National Speakers’ Association, The International Coach Federation and The Experts Association.

  • Brenda Miller

    Love this article. I have been feeling so overwhelmed and not trusting anyone as far as what they might be saying because it usually does have a click at the end of the post. Always waiting for the pitch I guess is how I feel.

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