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Please All, and You Will Please None.

Last week, I was reminded of the story by Aesop “The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey”. You know it?

A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said:

“You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?”

So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said:

“See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”

So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn't gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other:

“Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”

Well, the Man didn't know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey.

By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said:

“Aren't you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours and your hulking son?”

The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey's feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned.

That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them:

“Please all, and you will please none.”

So, what's the lesson in regard to business?

Well, you can't possibly make everyone happy. There's NO way – no matter how hard you try. And, no matter how many times people say “I love what you're doing, and thank you so much!” There will always be some who aren't happy. No matter how much you second-guess yourself and try to offer value – someone will not appreciate what you're doing.

This is applicable in all areas of business, but nowhere will you feel it more than with your mailing list.

To mail or not to mail? That is the question. And, what the HECK should you mail?

Awhile back, I posted about List Building Lessons – and we touched on this topic. (That's a great blog post. Read it if you haven't yet. One of my favorites.)

After that, I started experimenting a bit. I knew that I had people on my list who wanted to hear from me more frequently, but also that I'd lose some people if I tried.

Added to that dilemma is the fact that my lists are in several places (between Aweber and my shopping carts) so there is some overlap there – people may get multiple emails.

And, to add a little more confusion is that I have autoresponder messages set to go out weekly with tips and special deals in most of my lists. So, they might get a double email from me without me sending two – just because of that autoresponder message.

So… how do you manage all of that?

Well, by offering value, I guess. And, in knowing that the people who love you want more from you. I have asked for feedback on several occasions from friends, customers, affiliates and normally I get 99%  of this…

“Yes, keep the good stuff coming!”

“I love it!”

“Nicole, I trust everything you send.”

And, then I get the ONE… well, who in no uncertain terms said that he or she would rather not hear from me as often and how DARE I send so many emails?  😉

So, what do you do when that happens?

Two things –

1. You look at the numbers.

For me, mailing more often caused my open rates for emails to increase while my unsubscribes actually decreased. Why? Well, I'm guessing that people started to get to know me better and/or look for my emails to come.

2. You learn that you can't please everyone.

After you stop feeling like you've been kicked in the stomach. (Yes, it always feels like that – even when it shouldn't.) Then, you objectively look at what you're doing. And, if your goal is to provide value and you see that you are — and the numbers also say that your readers, customers, affiliates — enjoy your content, then ignore the ones who you will never please.

After all, you're no donkey. lol.

Big hugs and thank you for being part of my day!

Nicole Dean

PS. This story also has a huge moral in being UNIQUE and not trying to please everyone because then it's harder to stand out. But, I'll save that for another day.

I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Cindy Bidar

    The person you most have to please is yourself. I figure as long as I know I’m providing value to my readers, offering solutions to their problems, and I’m not ashamed to sign my name to my emails, I’m doing great. I unsubscribe from lists or stop reading blogs all the time, and it’s almost never personal, so I don’t worry when people have more pressing things to do than listen to me.

  • Leann Turpin

    Know thyself then TRUST thyself. 🙂

  • Patti Stafford

    Awesome post Nicole!

    And yes, I am back online. Finally. So much to catch up on but I had to stop and read this.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Tracy Chatman

    This is a really educating site you have here. Now that I have information that will help me with my business I feel that i am moving foward and not at a stand still. This is year 2011 and its time that I focus on self and not listen the negatives but feed on the positives. I need to know where to start or how to start a n email list I believe in working smart for long term sucess. I heard that there is power in the list.. Thank you so much for this blog it is very helpful

  • Lynn Brown

    This is a great reminder Nicole …. we just can’t please everyone. I remember when I felt punched in the stomach, which was the first email telling me they would report me if I sent another email to them. I frantically thought it was me and I had to change what I was doing … well, then I thought more and said, no, darn it, I am going to be me and if that one person didn’t enjoy receiving the great stuff I was sending out, I would just quietly remove them from my list. Once I conquered that, it seems for every one that unsubscribes I recv 3 or 4 new subscribers and I love it! So thanks Nicole for the positive post and is really a great lesson to all.

  • Kathleen

    Just letting you know, I look forward to your emails, I also appreciate your recommendations of Sweetie Marketing, and Susanne with the affiliate site, Mail me as often as you like, I am learning lots, lol thanks Kathy

  • DeAnna Troupe

    This is an excellent post, Nicole. I have to remind myself of this when people are unhappy with something I’ve done even though I’ve bent over backwards trying to make it right for them. Great job. Keep up the good work.

  • Marilyn Southmayd aka Grandma Marilyn

    Unfortunately, if you try to please everyone, your product or information becomes watered down and of no use to anyone. Usually, we pick the area we want and we know that not everyone will be pleased by it. I know when someone goes to unsubscribe, it will hurt my feelings but I will have to get over it.

  • Peggy Baron

    Good topic, Nicole.

    I know from experience if you don’t email very often, people don’t get to know you or have any expectations of what your emails will be about. Obviously there’s a best practice somewhere between too many and too few, and it’s different for everyone.

    Good for you for looking at what the numbers say.

    Peggy Baron

  • Rhonda

    I find that it’s definitely true. If I email on a consistent basis, my subscribers know what to expect, and I actually end up keeping more subscribers happy. Mainly, I try to really respect my subscribers time, after all, they put their trust in me when they handed over their email, so I try not to take that for granted. I value them and show that by keeping my emails respectful and with offering value.

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