Cleaning Out My Inbox, One Over-zealous Business at a Time

‘Tis the season, but instead of spreading holiday cheer, merchants of all shapes and sizes are inundating us with “deals” and “once-in-a-lifetime prices” and a plethora of other false or misleading propaganda with one goal in mind: to get a piece of our financial pie.

It would be bad enough if my inbox was filled each day by the likes of Kohl’s, Target, Wal-mart, and Sears. I’ve already created rules to send them to the trash. But these days, people like you and me— entrepreneurs, coaches, copywriters, intuitives…you name it, they’re pitching hard and often. It seems they’re all buying into the corporate idea that more advertising is better.

I’m here to tell you that, for me at least (and I suspect I’m not alone), more is just a pain in the ass.

Are You Killing Off Your Subscriber List?

I have nothing against the entrepreneur who wants to remain visible and at the forefront of my mind should I require the service they’re selling. A newsy email with a tip or two and a sales pitch woven in is fine as long as they arrive once, maybe twice a week. But when those emails arrive in my in-box daily, or worse, multiple times a day, it’s nothing more than spam.

I’ve opted out of more subscriptions in the last couple of weeks, simply because the site owner decided they needed to poke my eyes out with their message. When they feel the need to email me that often, I have to wonder how many clients they actually have. I, for one don’t have time to write multiple emails a day, even if I’ve written them ahead of time and scheduled them to send at regular intervals. I’m a writer. I know how long it takes to create copy. If you have to put it into that many emails, I already know not only that I’m not interested, but that you can’t possibly have that many interesting things to say.

Confusing “The Season of Giving” with “The Season of Selling”

I get that we all want to stay in front of our clients, customers, and potentials. I also know that unless you’re selling some kind of seasonal merchandise, you’re not a retail establishment who does the largest percentage of sales during the holiday season. In fact, it might even be your slowest season while everyone is focused on cooking, decorating, and present-buying. Frankly, the time to fill your pipeline for the holidays was probably 3 to 6 months ago.

From the get-go, I have had a curious aversion to pitching, and especially cold pitching. I hold fast to the belief that my ideal client will know, like, and trust me, and that doesn’t come about from impersonal email blasts made worse by awkward attempts to make them sound like they were written just for the recipient. I do business with people for the same reason.

Focusing on Building Relationships

If you aren’t a mega-corporation, you are, in my opinion, in the business of building relationships whether you like it or not. Even introverts like me and many others I could name have to put forth the effort to help without expecting anything in return, to show up and actually interact with people.

For some like Vanessa Talbot you might create a Facebook group in which you engage members using a variety of techniques such as theme days. One of her best pieces of advice, though, is to turn the administration of the group over to someone else or you’ll be buried in what I call administrivia. Your administrator (and there are many VA’s out there who are quite good at group administration) frees you to interact with your members, pay attention to your clients, and yes, promote your products or services.

Michelle Evans uses breakout sessions, public speaking, and guided meditations she’s created to spread her message and engage her audience. Her genuine compassion and insight do more to attract and engage her ideal client than a million email blasts ever could.

These are just two examples of women entrepreneurs I admire and respect. They don’t need to do a hard sell, nor do they binge-write emails to be sent in the future to everyone on their email list. They don’t need to.

Cold Pitching is Only One Approach

As my aversion grows towards the concept of cold-pitching I realize, like everything else, there’s a reason for it. There are many other ways to let people know you’re available for hire which don’t involve chasing strangers, or hard selling. Some of that involves engaging with those who are using these tactics to learn what you don’t like. You still have to search your own soul, make some difficult choices and, yes, step way outside your comfort zone before you find the method which works best for you.

What you don’t need to do, and frankly, I advise against it, is to follow someone else’s set of rules. I hear over and over that the only way to make a career in copywriting, or writing period is to pitch and pitch often. I have trouble believing there’s only one way to do anything, much less build a career.

Our Uniqueness is Our Greatest Asset

No two writers are the same, so why should our approach to building our business be? It seems we’d be better served by focusing on our uniqueness in all aspects of our business, not just the branding.

When my career was accounting, I found I was at a disadvantage when I tried to compete for jobs with CPA’s. I might have had more years of experience, and a unique history of truly being in the trenches, and learning from the ground up, but perception is that someone who has those 3 letters after their name is somehow smarter or more talented. I could have given up, or even taken the route many others did and gotten my CPA. It’s not like I lacked the brain power.

Instead, I created my own niche. I focused on small- to mid-sized businesses and used my experience working for a government contractor to my advantage.

We all have special skills, a unique background, insights others don’t possess. Put them all together and we are worth our weight in gold— for the right people. And for the right people, we should never have to spam their in box or become pushy salespeople if it goes against our grain. We simply need to be ourselves, and be willing to give some of it away with no expectations.

That’s the kind of businesswoman I am, and I choose to do business with others who feel the same way. How about you?

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author