Allison Rapp

Ever Wonder What to Talk About?

When you don't engage with the people on your email list often enough, sending a note to them becomes a chore that just doesn't find its way to the top of your list very often.

My college roommate and I were assigned to share our dorm room in 1967 because our names were the next two on the alphabetical list of incoming Freshmen. By the end of that year, we were best friends and we’ve stayed that way for more than 50 years.

As much as we can, Anne and I both schedule around our standing phone date every Tuesday at 5 o’clock and if we have to miss it, we both feel it. The beauty of talking so often is that we never run out of “what to talk about.” After an hour or more of catching up, we somehow manage to say goodbye, but generally feel like we still have more that we could talk about.

It was like that with my mom too, when she would write to me at school (remember paper and pen?… envelopes?… stamps?). If she had time to write often, her letters were long and chatty.

But you know what? There were times when she got really busy and then she wrote because she felt like she had to. I could always tell when she felt like it had been too long, because she wrote less, gave me very little detail and came across much more like she was giving a factual report than a catch-up on what was happening in my family and sharing things I cared about.

Over many decades, I realized that this same thing plays out in so many ways—even in the businesses that keep our practices afloat. When I am in regular communication with you, I have more ideas that I know you’ll be interested in. That’s when I sit down, write the email in one go, read it over (I admit I—I hate looking careless) and then send it off.

On the other hand, when it’s been a long time, I stress about not having written, then about what to write, then about how to write it. And then whatever I did manage to write sits for days while I wonder if it’s a good idea to push “send.”

I know this probably isn’t that much different from the way it is for you in your practice. Why? Because practitioners tell me all the time that they send emails to their list maybe 3 or 4 times a year and it’s usually a big production.

If you’re wondering how to think about this in your own practice, here are some questions to ponder—

  • When was the last time you wrote to your list… and was it about much more than your schedule for the next while or other “facts of business life”?
  • Is hearing about those things why your subscribers are on YOUR list? (I encourage you to think a moment or two before blithely answering “of course!” In fact, think about it until your brow knits together and what runs through your head is “Why else would they be on my list??” and then keep thinking until you hear something bubble up from your Inner Voice of Wisdom.)
  • What do they want to hear about?
  • What stops you from writing about that? (What do your inner voices say? What is your experience of being on other peoples’ email lists? What’s your experience of being on MY list? If what I write to you about didn’t speak to you, would you stay or unsubscribe?)

This is top of mind for me now because I’ve recently had a number of conversations with people who enrolled in Heart to Heart, and they highlighted for the importance of helping you understand the value of keeping in touch with your list. And not only keeping in touch but doing it in a way that makes people want to open your emails.

If you’ve been holding back on doing that, remember that if people are on your list “by mistake” they can unsubscribe… and if they don’t do that, they WANT to hear from you and don’t have to worry about writing to them!

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