What can Benjamin Franklin teach us about email marketing?
Benjamin Franklin is renowned for being one of the founding fathers of the United States, as well as an acclaimed author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, chess master, husband, father, statesman, and diplomat. He played a major role during the enlightenment period of our country, inventing a number of tools that we still use every day (including bifocals and the first swimming fins, worn on your hands!), co-founding the first volunteer fire department (ever heard of Ben’s Bucket Brigade?) and actively participating in the development of the university system. He was a true visionary, seeing possibilities invisible to everyone else and thinking outside the box well ahead of his time.
Imagine what Franklin would see if he was alive today.
Imagine what he would think.
Imagine what he would create.
Imagine what we would learn from him.
Franklin may not be able to deliver the keynote address at the next Association for Accounting Marketing symposium, nor can he invent the next best thing since the wonderful worldwide web, but 200 years before the technology existed, his words of wisdom are remarkably applicable to modern email marketing strategies.
Consider these inspiring quotes, courtesy of the master of innovation, Franklin. Review them from an email marketing perspective. Put them into context for today’s unique markets. Apply them to your accounting or other professional service firm’s marketing strategies.
“Well done is better than well said.”
A frequent obstacle CPA firms and other professional service providers claim regarding email marketing is that they don’t have a “large enough” client and prospect list to market to. Marketers may have exciting plans on how to market their niches or specialty services, but they just don’t think they have enough distribution to launch their campaigns. Franklin would find fault in that logic.
It doesn’t matter how fabulous your marketing strategy is if it is never implemented. Get started. Right now. Start with what you have and grow your list, your campaign, your strategy, over time. Tweak things along the way. The results of your campaign (the “well done” part of Franklin’s statement) will inevitably be better than no results at all, which is what you’ll get if all you do is talk about it.
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
Email is about first impressions. You have 10 seconds or less to get your prospect’s attention. Don’t squander the opportunity to make the best first impression you can. The subject line is the first thing they see. It’s your opening line. Make sure you capitalize on it, using the valuable real estate to pique their curiosity, establish your credibility, address a common paint point, convey a sense of urgency (as appropriate), all while telling them what to expect in your message. Motivate them to open your email.
Beyond the subject line, however, be sure to provide valuable content. If your email newsletter is heaving with sales pitches, product reviews and dry service descriptions, how much relationship capital are you building with your contacts? Clients and prospects have an ever-increasing expectation for value, which factors heavily into the decision making process. They want to work with people who give them “something extra”— information that will help them now and in the future. They seek advisors who are willing to go the extra mile, providing support and resources at no additional charge. In today’s competitive marketplace, you have the ability to set yourself apart by giving them what they want and need while establishing a long-term relationship for years to come.
“Tell me and I forget; teach me and I may remember; involve me and I learn.”
How would your clients respond to great advice that helps them run their businesses more effectively? Or save more on taxes? Or protect their assets for the future? As a professional services advisor, you have oodles of knowledge and wisdom to impart. Your readers, be they clients or prospects, want to learn from you. Your email marketing campaign is the perfect opportunity to engage your prospects and develop a professional rapport. By sharing helpful, informative, relevant and quality information with them on a regular basis, you cultivate business relationships that will likely result in new business. Teach them. Nurture them. Position yourself as a trusted advisor and thought leader. In turn, they will come to you when the need for a service you provide arises.
“When you are finished changing, you’re finished.”
Some firms get stuck in a marketing rut, afraid to rock the boat, to upset the apple cart, to throw a monkey wrench in an existing process. People are naturally afraid of change. But you need to shake things up now and then to ensure that your marketing strategy is delivering the maximum amount of return on your investment. If you continue thinking the same way year after year, and don’t challenge the status quo, you are likely missing out on opportunities.
If all team members involved in your marketing strategy think the same way, agree on everything, and no one proposes a different tactic or approach, you are guaranteeing mediocrity at best. Alternatively, if you use the same messaging day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, you should not be surprised if your ROI diminishes over time.
Regardless of how successful your email campaign may be, improvements are always possible. Give your email messages a visual facelift with enhanced branding. Ensure that your content is always fresh, engaging and provides value to every recipient. If your most recent call to action campaign worked wonders, give it to someone outside of the marketing department and ask them how it could have been even better.
Not everything you do will improve upon what you already have, but you have to keep trying. That’s the key to change. And change leads to success.
“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen.”
Don’t get stuck in the “what if” mire. Enable and encourage evolution in your marketing strategies and initiatives. Through email marketing, you have the opportunity to present added value to your client and prospect base by sharing informative, educational and helpful content that your subscribers will appreciate and value, while simultaneously generating top-of-mind awareness, building relationships and demonstrating thought leadership.
Two centuries after his time, Benjamin Franklin can still teach us a thing or two. Listen to what he’s saying. Then follow his sage advice to improve your email marketing campaigns.