What Matters (And What Doesn’t)

You’ve probably been wondering why I never bother talking about any of the new SPAM legislation being considered these days.

“After all,” you may have said to your spouse over breakfast, “if he’s such a hot shot email newsletter expert, how come he never touches on the number one topic in the world of business email today?!”

I have to admit, you and your spouse pose an interesting question. And here’s my answer:

The reason I don’t spend any time talking about email laws, is because as far as I’m concerned, determining where the line is between legal and illegal is not central to the problem we all face. Our challenge as marketers is getting people to want to pay attention to what we’ve got to say, not figuring out how to stay out of jail.

Think of it this way. Suppose my 10 year old son Evan said to me, “Dad, you and Mom seem happily married. Can you give me some advice on how I might also have a relationship like that when I grow up?”

Do you think I would say, “Sure Evan, here’s all you need to keep in mind. Don’t touch people that you don’t know; don’t follow people home who haven’t invited you; and if somebody comes over to your apartment and then decides that she wants to leave, don’t barricade the door.”

Advising Evan on how not to be a stalker , is not the same as showing him how to attract someone who might one day fall in love with him. Although he wouldn’t go to jail in either case, I think you’ll agree that the two approaches reflect a very different perspective on dating.

By the same token, our challenge in creating E-Newsletters that make a difference to our respective businesses is in building a loyal following; it’s not about getting as close to the line of what’s legal as possible. Our goal is to find people who like what we have to say and how we say it, and as a result, will want to do business with us.

Bottom Line: There’s nothing wrong with following the bouncing email regulation ball to make sure that you don’t have a policy in place that inadvertently contradicts the law. But don’t waste too much of your limited energy over here. Instead, focus your attention on creating a publication that is so useful and so interesting and so vital to the daily life of your target audience, that they will go out of their way to clear a path for you into their email box (regardless of where the regulatory line is ultimately drawn).

 

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