[PMC Daily Consulting Insight] A simple plan

Philip Morgan

The next cohort of The Expertise Incubator begins Jan 13, 2020. If you're curious, let me know.

I've got an email marketing problem.

I talked about it last week here. Some of you said nice things like "brave" and "transparent" and "thank you". And one of you had a really fascinating idea for infusing the Axios format into my emails to make them more easily digestible. Color me intrigued. And grateful for the feedback!

Let's roll up our sleeves today and see what solutions there might be to my (totally self-induced) email marketing problem.

I've got a self-imposed timeline of 2 months to make this paid/free split work better, or the experiment's over. Reverting back to exactly the same infotainment approach I was using before isn't possible since I've changed how I write this year, but undoing the free/paid split and moving forward from there certainly is. That's my fallback plan.


I actually have some data to incorporate into my decision making here. That's useful.

In 2018, I set up a "post opt-in survey". I describe this tool here, and it's something I generally recommend you consider setting up. I see no downsides.

That survey samples those who join my email list, and from that sample I have a decent picture of what's on the minds of those who join my email list.

Here's a quick snapshot:

I know this sample has sampling error. All samples do. I don't have the means to statistically correct for this, but I also don't think I need that level of rigor. I'll just take these numbers as valid-enough to reduce my uncertainty here about how to handle the free segment of my email list, which is the segment that gets one email per week without having to pay money for it.

Fully half of my list are generalists, and I can reasonably assume that information about specializing along with the hazards and benefits of doing so would be of interest to them. I can also assume that information about advanced consulting topics would be beyond their sphere of immediate concern.

Another 35% have specialized but are now trying to figure out lead generation. I can also assume that info on advanced consulting topics is likely to feel like a nice-to-have but not a must-have for them.

This information is useful for thinking about topics of interest, but it doesn't inform my thinking about the format for those weekly emails. On that front, I'm on my own. I don't think it will be the short, infotainment-heavy approach I used before.

The other data

I also have data about those who pay to receive emails from me. That data looks different.

It's simply a list of email addresses. I personally know most of the people who are on my paid email address, and so I can look at that list, think about where each person is in their career, and draw some conclusions about what topics they might be interested in.

A path forward

This data suggests a path forward:

  • The free weekly email is primer material on specialization and lead generation. 1

  • The paid daily emails are where I work on cutting new trail on more advanced consulting topics.

Pending more/better ideas, that's how I'll approach email marketing for the final months of 2019.

In the post opt-in survey, I ask two questions. Responses to these questions from those that identify as generalists or needing-to-generate-leads will give me ideas for this primer content:

  • When you think about how your expertise could create change or new opportunities for your clients, what does that look like?

  • What's your #1 question about specialization, positioning, lead generation, or moving into advisory work?

Since paid list subscribers (that's you) receive both the paid daily and free weekly emails, you'll get to see how I execute on this refined direction. Check it out tomorrow.


  1. Regarding calling the weekly email a "primer": Remember that one of the reasons I publish daily is to take a trip to the "mind gym". There's always more I could learn about specialization and lead generation, but I'm experiencing diminishing returns in this area. So to me, writing about specialization and lead gen feels like I'm not cutting new trail. But ~85% of my email list needs this "primer" material! So for this experiment to work, I need to spend one of my mind gym visits each week not cutting new trail. ↩︎