Stop Focusing on Building Your List: It’s Time to Go Deeper With the Ones Who’re Already There


There’s a LOT of marketing advice out there about how to reach more people. Get more fans. Build your list. And just plain dominate the world with your empire.

But there’s another way to grow your business, and it doesn’t require you to talk to anyone new.

In fact, it’s totally acceptable and A-OK if you take your eye off those vanity numbers altogether.

It’s time to go deep.

Take a look at your current email list statistics and tell me what you see. Are you happy with your open rates? Your click through rates?

Even if your rates are pretty good, they could probably be better.

The real question is: Are you having enough two-way conversations with the folks who are standing right in front of you?

Have you ever been visiting with a friend or loved one and they spent more time looking at their phone than talking with you? How did that make you feel? Ignored?

Or, what about that guy who always hogs the conversation at your local business mixer? Obnoxious, right?

Yeah, that’s what’s it like for the folks on your email list when you focus on building subscribers over relationships.

So how do you go deep?

I won’t lie to you. This relationship thing takes time.

It requires you to be present with the person right in front of you.

To stop talking and just listen.

Here’s what that might look like with your email list:

1. Ask an open-ended question in your emails and encourage your readers to reply. This is deceptively simple — but not always easy to do. Consider the question you’re asking. Is it a self-serving question? Or a question that will allow you to better serve your readers? Here’s an example of what I mean. See if you can spot the difference:

  • Have you found our advice or services helpful? Please reply and share a testimonial. We’ll add it to our website with a link back to yours. A win-win!
  • What projects are you working on right now? Please reply and let us know so we can help you share them with the world. (Include a link to your site or sales page, too!)

Both of these questions might get you some responses, but I guarantee you’ll get more interest from the second one.

Besides, the second question does a much better job of helping you get to know your readers better. And that’s exactly how you begin to build real relationships.

2. Meet your readers face-to-face. Again, easier said than done, right? You can do this a few different ways:

  • Invite your readers to an in-person event. This works but only in the region where your readers live. You can extend this by meeting them in their home towns when you travel. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed sharing coffee or a meal with folks I’ve only seen on Facebook. 
  • Meet your readers via Skype or a G+ Hangout. Virtual coffees don’t have to take a long time — even 15 minutes can go along way toward nurturing a relationship. Set up a regular Virtual Coffee time and invite folks to schedule a one-on-one. Be careful tho — this should be a chance for them to tell you about themselves. Not an opportunity for you to pitch your latest thing. Get to know them as people. Find out what they do for fun and how they spend their leisure time. Ask them about their lives beyond business.

3. Offer products and services that go deeper than just one issue. Your readers and prospective customers all have individual lives of their own (shocking, I know!). That means, they’re all on a different place in the path. Some of them are just getting started. And if what you’re selling is appropriate for beginners, that fabulous. Keep doing it.

Eventually though, those folks will master the foundational things and be ready for more. They’ll be ready to go deeper. What can you do to help them? Is there a way to help them make a bigger impact?

This third strategy works best if you’ve already built a solid foundation around one offering yourself. You don’t want to muddy the marketing waters when you’re just getting started by trying to sell too much to too many different types of people.

Look, we all know it costs more to market and sell to a brand new customer than it does to just keep your existing folks happy. But how much time and energy are you really spending on the relationship-building process?

If you provide radical service (see our last post on the topic) AND you focus on really getting to know the prospects who’ve already shown up, you will grow your business. You’ll sell more to the same people, and those folks will tell others about how fabulous you are.

To reiterate, going deeper = better word-of-mouth and more referrals.

If you’d like help with swimming in the “Deep End” with your email list, leave a question below, or shoot me an email: tea (at) thewordchef (dot) com. I’d love to hear about what you’ve tried so far, and where you’re getting stuck with this kind of thing.

And if there’s something you’ve tried that worked for you, please share it with the Slow Marketing tribe in a comment below.

photo credit: Jef Harris via photopin cc

  • Cheryl Scoffield

    Hey Tea, Once again you’ve hit the nail on the head! COUNT ME IN

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Woo-hoo! Glad to have you here, Cheryl!

  • Caroline

    I found this post very interesting Tea. First time here, BTW. I know that it’s about getting our subscribers more involved but it’s quite tricky to do this, so some helpful pointers here which I’ll be testing out.

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  • newcomer

    I am all so very new to this marketing thing and I am very interested to learn and help

  • Anne Wayman

    Tea! How did I miss this site! Suspect the timing is perfect! Love this list and the manifesto!

  • Andrew

    This is very good stuff. Please keep it up.