If Nobody Hates You, Nobody’s Listening

I got an email the other day from a client — Stephen — a man whose company E-Newsletter I helped launch almost a year ago. In his email, Stephen forwarded an “unsubscribe request” that he had just received from one of his newsletter recipients.

The requester not only asked to be removed from the list, but she also went on at length regarding what was wrong with the newsletter overall.

Stephen was very unhappy. OK, that’s not entirely true. He was more than unhappy. He was distraught, he was upset, he was crushed.

Stephen pours a lot of genuine personality into his newsletters, and he writes about the things in his industry that are important to him. He interpreted the email as a personal attack.

Here’s what I said in my reply to Stephen:

• Congratulations, you touched a nerve. People don’t get angry at plain vanilla; they get angry at strong opinions. And if the purpose of your newsletter is to attract clients and position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, you’ve got to take a position. Not everybody is going to agree with you, and that’s fine.

• She’s giving you data. Don’t believe it, but don’t ignore it. Like a customer who says, “I’m never coming to your lousy restaurant again,” if they bother to tell you why, you ought to listen. It’s a balancing act, and the appropriate action to take lies somewhere between changing your entire focus based on one person’s comments and ignoring them outright. Try to separate the information from the pain of reading the feedback.

• Read it, learn from it, and let it go. Don’t “make anything of it,” and don’t question the validity of who you are and what you’ve got to say because one person got angry at you. That’s all stuff that happens in your own head, and it’s your choice whether you agonize over it or simply use it as a data point.

Bottom Line: You can’t stand out without standing out. The bad news is that some people are going to hate you for it. The good news is that others will love you, and (here’s the best part), people who love you buy things from you!

If you want your E-Newsletter to bring you business. . . make it memorable, make it interesting, and above all, take a position. News is a commodity, expert opinions are priceless.

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