"There are only TWO spots left in the program. Sign up now!"
This is the sort of email we might receive from a conventional marketer (see Organic Marketing vs. Conventional Marketing).
They have not taken the care to consider how this makes the audience feel. They're doing it because it "works" to get those few openings filled.
When they offer 2 spots left, and yet the campaign is being sent to thousands of people, what are the rest of the people supposed to do?
"Feel left out" is the unfortunate answer.
This may be the biggest ethical problem in marketing -- doing things that are expedient, that "work" to achieve a short-term result for profits, without caring how the audience feels.
It's also harmful to the business in the long-term: If the majority of one's audience can’t buy at the moment, and yet the marketing makes them feel left out, how does this affect one's relationship with the audience?
Sometimes, this is consciously done by the marketer. They want the audience to feel like they must do what the marketer says ASAP, or otherwise they'll feel badly…
I, too, have to become more aware of how my own promotions might make you feel. If it ever feels less than good, please do let me know (and offer some specifics to help me).
Conventional marketing works to exacerbate:
When I have only a few spots left for something, I don't email my list. I don't post it on social media. (UPDATE: There's a recent and embarrassing example that by the time I made my official video announcement about MasterHeart 2019, it was already filled.)
What I prefer to do, when there are only a few spots left, is to reach out specifically to a few people that I believe would be grateful to know about those openings. (I will ask them to kindly respond by tomorrow if they are interested, because otherwise I need to share the opportunity with others.)
If you have something that is timely, e.g. a course or workshop, or the start of a program, then let people know the start date, and if they can't do it this time, when you might be doing it again, or whether they can simply participate via the recordings. Respect people enough to allow them to make that choice. The ones who are excited about the offer will want to do it sooner rather than later. They won't want to wait.
Recently, I decided not to post a "Last Chance" type of ad on Facebook, because I felt my audience already saw it enough. I had sent 2 emails to my list, and had already done a Facebook ad. I noticed the sales was initially good, but had trickled to a halt.
I could "squeeze" out a few more sales by doing more promotions. Or, I could prioritize the feeling of connection and friendship with my audience.
When an offer is right for the audience, the sales come in strong at the beginning, and then, kind of like cooking popcorn, the sales slow down and then, if the audience has seen it enough times, one or two more might sign up.
And just like cooking popcorn, it's not worth popping 2 more kernels yet burning 20 of them. Stop promoting your offer to try to get 2 more sales, at the risk of burning 20 people. Avoid annoying your list by sending too many promotional emails.
This is how so many email lists become useless over time… they were not conscious of how their messages made the audience feel.
You might want to compare your own email list open and click rates with the industry averages according to Mailchimp. (My email list has more than double my industry open rate, and more than 3x my industry click rate, which shows that my email marketing is trusted much more than the typical marketing in my industry.)
I limit promotions to 2 or 3 emails about any offer -- and even so, such promotional emails are sent only to my promotions email list (those who specifically want to hear about my promotions.)
For example, to promote an upcoming course, 1 email is sent announcing that it is available for registration, and the 2nd email is sent 1-3 days before the course starts. That's it.
If it is a unique or new type of course that my audience isn’t used to seeing from me, I might send a 3rd email in between the 1st and 2nd, to give them more information about it.
You can see my actual promotional emails here. (As always, I continue to learn, so feel free to give me your honest feedback and suggestions, my dear audience!)
On social media (particularly my Facebook business page) I post 3 times about the offer (1 link post, 1 event, and 1 text-only post), boosting one or two of those into Ads. That's it.
In regards to my weekly/monthly content email list, I do not send specific promotional emails. I only mention the upcoming offer at the bottom of each content email. I don’t enjoy the content emails I get where they promote their thing first before giving the content we signed up for. To see some of my actual emails, go to George Kao Monthly Newsletter Archive.
The exception -- if I notice that sales are strong and steady with each post or promotion, then I might keep going a bit longer, but again, you can tell when the popcorn is slowing down its popping.
It’s always good to remind ourselves of the Golden Rule:
Do unto others what you’d like done unto you.
Or vice versa: Don’t do unto others what you don’t enjoy being done to you.
Apply this to your marketing:
What feels “off” to you? Look at your own process and be sure not to do it. Also, what feels great, and earns your respect or friendship? Do that kind of marketing to others as well.
By doing marketing authentically, we uplift humanity, rather than fostering more fear with conventional marketing.
We can move our audience to action from love and respect. Trust that the ones who can respond, and wish to, will take the action you are offering.
Most importantly, let us return to our spiritual practices to remind ourselves that we will always be taken care of and therefore:
Doing the right thing is always the right thing.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
All content on this website is Creative Commons CC0 license -- No Rights Reserved. Feel free to use or repurpose it however you like!
Here's why :)