Why email marketers get it so wrong, so consistently, then wonder why they FAIL
By John Counsel,
CEO and Marketing Doctor
at The Profit Clinic
Fear of loss is the worst possible reason for doing anything in life — especially selling! It’s the self-defeating cause of most of the really dumb things done by online sellers, especially email marketers.
There’s an awful lot of nonsense written and spoken about fear, which is really fear of loss… either losing what you already have, or missing out on what you don’t have.
You can learn much more about fear — and how to overcome it — from our FREE 60-minute webinar replay (opens in a new window)…
First things first…
The first priority in any meaningful discussion is to define the subject. So let’s do that right now. This is how we define FEAR at The Profit Clinic…
- Fear is the emotional effect of perceived RISK.
- Risk is the perceived ABSENCE of personal control over your circumstances.
Forget all the usual nonsense about “False Expectations Appearing Real” and “Action conquers fear”. Those are not definitions. They’re nothing but platitudes for calming and reassuring fearful prospects. They’re not just misleading and inaccurate… they’re downright dangerous!
The problem for most human beings is this: we can’t define much at all when it comes to the causes-and-effect relationships that drive human behaviour — WHY we do things.
Instead, we describe the effects — HOW it makes us feel.
So we focus on the symptoms and ignore the underlying, hidden causes. We mask the pain with pain killers and cover the wound, cancer or gangrene with band-aids!
Then we wonder why the organism eventually dwindles and dies! (The organism can be either our bodies or our businesses.)
The BIG Problem with our usual notions of “Control”
None of us are born in control. It takes at least two people to get us here, and we spend the next 2-3 decades learning and gaining enough personal control over our situations to become independent adults.
We don’t come with instructions. We each have to learn the knowledge, insights, attitudes and skills, and acquire the use of the resources we need, usually through forming useful relationships, so we can exchange our own resources for the resources of others.
This is why businesses exist: business is the exchange of resources for mutual, win-win perceived benefit. In business, one of those resources is normally money — one of our two mediums of exchange (our other medium of exchange is time).
The only value of our mediums of exchange — time and money — is their agreed value and what we can exchange them for.
For business owners, the primary benefit from these exchanges of resources is profit, because profit is the only result that allows us to stay in business.
So personal control over our situation becomes a serious problem for us because it requires knowledge, insight (understanding), attitudes and skills that can put us in control. Unfortunately, we’re born with none of those things. We have to learn and acquire them — and that takes the Four Cornerstones of Success: vision, time, effort and self-discipline.
Unfortunately, we have to survive in the real world in the meantime!
So we have to deal with a whole lot of fear of loss, once we discover that we’re not in control of our circumstances. (Read “The Four Stages of Personal Control”.)
Even more unfortunately, because of our useless (dangerous!) “definitions” of fear and personal control, most of us try to reduce our fear — usually stress — by controlling everyone and everything around us… ironically, the very things we can’t control!
Ultimately, all we can ever really control is ourselves and our own responses to everyone and everything around us.
How Fear of Loss hoodwinks and sabotages us in online selling
Because of this natural, intuitive fear of loss that develops from our life experiences and emotional conditioning from childhood, trying to minimise the stress it causes us when we don’t feel in control of the situation tends to become the kinds of self-defeating behaviour we see all the time in selling… trying to control the desired outcome (“closing the sale!” *d’oh!*) by controlling the prospective buyer’s thoughts and actions!
(You’ve heard of “Dumb and Dumber”, right? This is the original!)
Think carefully… what is fear? (Scroll up)
That’s right: “the emotional effect of perceived risk”.
Right again — “the absence of personal control over your circumstances.”
So what happens if you remove the prospect’s personal control over their end of the buying process? (Note: it’s always a BUYING process. They control the MONEY!)
What’s left in its place?
Correct: fear of loss… perceived RISK!
And the perceived risk is NOT your offer or the price.
It’s YOU and your MOTIVES!
“Who are you really and why are you trying to control my thoughts and actions?”
Guess what the outcome is likely to be?
Yes… false hope, false urgency and false scarcity may “pay the bills”… providing you have an endless source of new prospects who know nothing about you.
But this kind of terminal stupidity by ignorant, incompetent sellers (who advertise their own ignorance and incompetence by using these abusive tactics).
They’re forms of Suicide Selling which typically take one of these traditional forms…
- “Kami Kaze” Selling is where you crash and burn — you crash through getting the “yes” you so desperately want, but you burn the relationship that produces any possible results so badly that there’s nothing left of value or usefulness to you! And you can forget about referrals and recommendations… permanently!
- “Hara Kiri” Selling is where you ritually disembowel yourself with your own lies, and die the “Death of a Thousand Cuts”, slowly, by deluding yourself that deceit and guile are the best ways to avoid triggering fear in your prospects, while still trying to control the outcome by removing control from your prospects!
Hel-lo-o! Did you recognise what’s happening with that insane thinking? Do you honestly believe that either of those approaches makes rational, business sense?
Perhaps you believe that there’s such a thing as a selling decision that isn’t just limited to your decision to make something available to buy?
(Good luck with that!)
How does this relate to Email List Building?
Just think about it all for a minute, then answer these simple questions:
- Do you seriously believe that forcing people to subscribe to your list before they’ve experienced any benefit from what you’re offering is intelligent behaviour? Or that they’ll stay on your list and feel positive and trusting toward you?
- Do you seriously believe that false scarcity and false urgency — and other deceptive, manipulative tactics — build long-term credibility and trust?
(If so, mind explaining how that works?)
- Can you see that any seller who tries to control the outcome by removing personal control from the prospect is really just an ignorant, incompetent victim of their own fear of loss? And that they actually advertise that fact by their actions?
- Can you seriously not see any safer, easier, better, faster and smarter ways of winning the trust and loyalty of prospective subscribers and buyers than falling for terminally-stoopid “Suicide Selling?”
How did you do with your answers? 😀
Now… let me ask you this question (the proverbial “elephant in the room!”):
What could possibly be WORSE than having a prospect say “NO” to you?
(Ironically, it’s the very thing that’s most likely to happen to you when you give in to your fear of loss.)
You’ll find the answer here…
An Email Marketing Expert’s View
John Counsel has taught me a TON about ethical and legal email marketing and I always listen to his words of wisdom — and follow them profitably. John is one of the original gurus, from a time when the word was used with respect and affection. He was the moderator of one of the best online discussion lists, I-Sales Digest, and founder of The Profit Clinic. That’s why I always listen when John shares his valuable insights.”
Dr Mani is an Indian heart surgeon who uses his considerable reputation and skills as an infoproduct marketer and mentor to raise much-needed funds for urgent heart surgery for young children whose families cannot pay for their life-saving operations.