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!
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.