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This is very basic stuff — the stuff of etiquette and ethics, rather than of technology and innovation. There is a special level in hell reserved for those who spam.

I don’t need to tell you the importance of permission marketing. One person who has asked you for information is easily worth ten thousand people who haven’t heard of you and aren’t interested. Sending unsolicited messages will generally result in a negative, rather than a positive impact upon your business.

Let people opt-in.

More importantly, make the information you send them relevant, useful and welcome. People like to be spoken to as if they are the only person being spoken to. That’s true of pretty much all media communication (I ban my radio students from using the phrase ‘all you people out there’), but it’s especially true of online communication.

Online media consumption is mostly a solitary affair. Even though Web 2.0 is all about socialisation, when you step back and look at it, there’s only ever one person sitting at that computer. They’re not designed to be shared. So talk to the one person looking at that screen.

Personalise your content
You’ll notice that’s what I’ve been doing on this blog all along. I don’t talk to an audience. I talk to you. We’re in this together, you and me.

The same should go for anything you do online — whether it’s your website, a mass e-newsletter mailout or a podcast. Don’t just think about the information you need to get out there — think about what the person you’re talking to wants to know.

That rules out long lists of dates and catalogues of upcoming events. Those should never be emailed. Think about it: how much attention do you give to emailed lists?

We come across so much text in out lives these days, we’ve all developed coping strategies that involve scanning and ignoring all but the most personally relevant information. We prioritise personal messages.

That’s not to say the information shouldn’t be available, but put it online in some searchable format.

Instead of sending out a long list of upcoming gigs listed by date, why not email your (opt-in) mailing list members and say something like: ‘Hey — we’re coming to play in your town soon. Looking forward to seeing you there. Check this page for details’ — and then give them a link?

Introductions are important
One of the best ways to get your message out to people that you don’t know is to get people they DO know to introduce you.

One of the ways you can do that is to encourage them to send your message on to their friends that might appreciate it. I hate unsolicited communication from complete strangers, but generally speaking, I welcome messages from helpful friends who have clearly been thinking of me as they surf the web.

Having the ‘Email this’ link at the end of each blog post (made with the help of this WordPress plugin) will hopefully help you forward New Music Strategies on to someone you think might find it useful, if I ever write something you think is of sufficient value or is particularly noteworthy for an individual you have in mind.

Don’t be longwinded
Remember too that people tend to scan. There’s no way you’ve read every word I’ve written so far on this post — but I know that your eyes have landed on certain key phrases along the way, right?

Knowing that important piece of information, it becomes clear that it’s a good idea to drop in paragraph breaks. Don’t run all your text together in one big, long scroll. Break it up. That way, scanning eyes have got clues as to which bits are important (usually the first sentence of each para) and your communication can be long without being longwinded.

Subheadings can be really useful in that respect too. See how that works?

It’s also a good idea to keep it simple. Tell one story (and it should be a story). If you have half a dozen things to tell people in a mailout, try sending slightly more frequent emails with one important thing in each, rather than one long occasional post that makes you seem like hard work.

It’s quite simple
As I said, this is simple stuff. Just communicate in the way you’d like to be spoken to by the kind of person who does what you do. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and take it from there.

Got any thoughts or recommendations for further personalisation or use of permission? I’d love to hear your comments.