June 6, 2014

Your foreign correspondent is at it again…this time from Paris…my first time in this amazing city.And my thoughts turn to romance, crepes…and of course e-mail marketing…

One of our first tourist stops was the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris…an amazing edifice…home to a guy who is more hunchback than me!

I worked off some “croissant calories” by walking the stairs to the tower (and when I got to the top, I hung out with a famous gargoyle …see picture at the end of this e-mail)…

I swear he reminded me of a sleazy Internet Marketer I met recently…

The church was built in the 12th century…well they started building it in 1163 but it wasn’t completed until 1345.

The craftsmanship is phenomenal…and seeing it up close and personal got me thinking…

Lots of folks put in a lot of time, planning and effort to figure out how to get that thing built without a crane…or an elevator shaft…or any modern tools.

I know what you’re saying…go visit the Pyramids, Brian, and you won’t be so astounded…but stay with me…

The craftsmanship had to be perfect and no move could be taken without it being thought through in a big way.

Sort of like doing direct mail…

OK…it was a lot tougher to build Notre Dame than to do direct mail…and the relative cost to build the church at 12th century prices was probably much more than the $500-$600 per thousand we pay today for world class direct mail… 🙂

So great news…direct mail is cheaper AND we don’t have to wait for almost 200 years to get results!

Although some online marketers think that waiting 6 weeks for direct mail results might as well be 200 years…

After visiting Notre Dame, I came back to my hotel to check my e-mail for the first time in a week…I have 6 Gmail accounts along with my Boardroom account…and one of those Gmail accounts is where I “sign up for stuff” to track what others are doing marketing-wise…some examples are retail stores, memberships, programs, webinars…maybe even some opt in pages from folks on this very list…

All of my In Boxes were flooded with stuff since I had been a “Free Man In Paris” for a week (reference to a song that shows my age)…

In particular, the one where I sign up for stuff had hundreds unread in it…most of them sucked too…they were noisy, not targeted and very repetitive.

I hadn’t noticed how bad they were (and how often I get the same bad e-mails) until I didn’t check the box for a week.

I started thinking about how much thought (or lack of thought) goes into sending 5 e-mails in 5 days to someone with virtually the same offer, maybe worded a little differently each time–but not enough is different to call it “creative.”

Or effective.

Or useful.

It is all so annoying to me.

Then I thought about the construction of Notre Dame…and the building of a direct mail campaign…and how neither could afford the sloppiness I was witnessing in that one Gmail account.

A good friend of mine (and a world class marketer) Dean Graziosi gave me a quote to live by…and I encourage you to spread the word on this one:

“Customers refund transactions, not relationships.”

There was nothing about “relationship building” in most of the e-mails in that In Box…

So frustrating to see the waste…

I often lament that in all my years in direct mail, we really couldn’t do true relationship building by itself…direct mail was way too expensive.

Gordon Grossman used to tell me that “everything in direct mail has to sell something.”

And while I agree with him on that, our commitment to developing direct mail creative that gave away “real content” even when it was dangerous to do so, made for relationship building while selling. That was not the norm in direct mail but we were trendsetters…and there were many like us that marketed similarly…and those are the mailers who have survived in a very tough medium.

I think Gordon would agree what the new rule should be for online marketers:

“Everything in e-mail must achieve something…”

And those of you who are big e-mailers, I dare you not to sell all the time…and please be selective when and how you sell.

Many of you know this already…I just want to make sure everyone knows this…

E-mail being cheap is not a license to kill your list…or your relationships.

Doing these weekly e-mails has taught me a lot…and even though I finally “sold you something” last week (i.e. “The Titans of Direct Response” event in September), I know I was offering you something of true value after I spent considerable time and effort developing this relationship with you.

And while I received some registrations, do you know what was more satisfying after that post last week?

Zero unsubscribes and zero complaints.

That was my key metric…so thank you for your trust…and please stay on this list whether you can come in September or not.

I know that I never could have figured out how to build the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris…in the 12th Century or the 21st…but as you read some weeks ago when I wrote, “How Paying Postage Made Me a Better Marketer“, I think I can build a list and use e-mail for good rather than evil because of how I learned to “build” direct mail campaigns.

And e-mail being inexpensive is not an excuse to exploit…it’s an opportunity to build.

So…I encourage you to stay on my list…let me know what you think of this post…and I swear it was not an excuse to tell you how cool I was that I was in Paris. 🙂

Note: You may find this interesting…my plan was to head to Normandy from Paris to be on Omaha Beach for the 70th anniversary of D-Day TODAY (I am an avid student of World War II history). But with Obama and Putin sunning themselves together on the beach right now, I switched gears and I am headed for London!

Still need to get to Normandy at some point…but today I will be going to the “Churchill War Rooms” in London in honor of the man who was as important as anyone during the war…a true hero…and someone I have quoted as much as anyone in the past and will do so again in the future…you can count on that!

And I’d still love you to join me in September for “Titans of Direct Response”…response has been tremendous…plenty of room for you…but no pressure.

Full details are here.



P.S. Here’s a picture of me with that Internet Marketer…er…gargoyle…atop Notre Dame. Can’t you tell I was thinking about e-mail marketing here? 🙂

P.P.S. Titans letter and registration information is here…even if you don’t register, read the letter. It’s a masterpiece (written by copywriter Roy Furr). Would love your thoughts on it and on the event itself…ideas, suggestions…

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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