March 29, 2017

The Six Rules of Story Selling (6 of 6)

Rule 6: Trust is difficult to build, easy to lose, and evaporates all of its own accord.

Compared to most businesses, I send a lot of emails. As a minimum I send one email every weekday.

This hasn’t always been the case.

I started off writing emails whenever I had time, or whenever I had anything especially interesting to say. Eventually, I started publishing on a weekly basis. Then practically overnight, everything changed.

I remember explaining to someone at Infusionsoft’s ICON conference that I’m a writer.

“You’re a writer,” she replied, “and you don’t send a daily email?

The conversation made me question my assumptions. I realised I had set a publishing schedule based on my own email preferences, not anyone else’s.

So I emailed my list, and explained I was going to write a daily email on an opt-in basis. Of my 800 subscribers, 80 subscribed to the daily emails.

If you study Pareto’s 80/20 principle, those numbers make sense. 80 people on my list wanted to hear from me more regularly, and I simply wasn’t catering to them.


Now, let me share an interesting observation with you. In the time I’ve been writing daily emails, ALL of my serious project enquiries have come from the daily email group.


I let people switch between daily and weekly emails, but the weekly email folks basically aren’t on my radar. I don’t unsubscribe people as long as they open the occasional email from me, but they contribute little to my revenue.

In my business, sending high frequency emails makes sense. I work in a high trust industry where a lot of education is required. I only work with people who have read at least one of my books, so the time from opt-in to project is potentially long.

And you know what? I’m okay with that. The client engagements I work on are a lot nicer as a result. My message is different to the standard macho marketing advice that gets thrown about, and it takes a while to explain that to people.

The email frequency you set will depend on the uniqueness of your message, and the amount of trust you need to close a sale. The more valuable and unusual your message, the higher your email frequency should be.

Determining email frequency is really a question of figuring out:

  • How many people on your list want to hear from you more regularly?
  • Is it worth your time to write to them more regularly, or is it worth paying someone to write more regularly on your behalf?

Email list size is an irrelevant number. The number of highly engaged contacts is what matters, and engagement is constantly changing. Every day, the people on your list either become more engaged, or less engaged.

Every day I don’t email you, you forget about me a little more. You forget my message a little more. You get caught up in your own whirlwind of regular life.

Many marketers seem to think that building trust is simply a case of adding new contacts to an ‘indoctrination sequence’. ‘I’ll send six ‘nurture’ emails,’ people think, ‘and people will suddenly know, like and trust me…’

Yeah, right.

This isn’t how trust works. People have short memories, and trust is now the most scarce marketing asset. Unless you’ve shown up recently providing value, you’re out of mind.

Building trust is like holding precious water in cupped hands. Over time, the water will slip through your fingers. You have to constantly add new water to maintain the level.

In my book The Marketing Nurture System, I call this the ‘Reservoir of Goodwill’. Every subscriber on your list has an emotional connection with you and your brand, based on your track record of providing entertaining, helpful information.

Every time you send an email to your list that is entertaining and on-topic, you increase the reserve of goodwill you hold with your readers. An increased reserve means a reader is more likely to open and read emails from you in the future.

Every time you send a message that is boring, self-centred, irrelevant or unhelpful you drain part of the reservoir away. Once the reservoir is empty a subscriber will either ignore you forever, unsubscribe or click the ‘this is spam’ button.

People wrongly assume that email is practically free. Email may not be expensive in terms of money flowing out of your bank account, but the opportunity cost of sending poor quality emails is tremendous.

Every time you alienate another person on your list you eliminate the chance of them ever spending money with you in the future. This cost is real and tangible. It could mean the difference between living the life you want or struggling to get by. It could mean the difference between a full order book and an empty order book.

Building up the reservoir of goodwill you hold with your readers is an asset that digs a moat around your business. Competitors never see the moat of course. They look in from the outside and think ‘hmm. That looks easy. We can do what they’re doing.’

Competitors can copy your ad text, your website layout, your pricing, maybe even your products. But they can never copy the goodwill you have built up with your subscribers.

Rule 6: Trust is difficult to build, easy to lose, and evaporates all of its own accord.

Read more about the Reservoir of Goodwill in The Marketing Nurture System.

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond runs the Maze Marketing Podcast and Maze Mastery. Rob specialises in content production, ad creation, storytelling and CRM systems. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.