[PMC Weekly Consulting Insight] Why daily? (pt2)

One more email about daily publishing. For context, here’s the previous one.

There’s a whole other area to explore here, which is the question of how daily publishing is received by your readers. And also the question of when in your career to embrace this daily publishing practice. And there’s also the other question: “Does it have to be writing, or can it be video, audio, etc?”

Let’s dig in.

You’ll read daily AND YOU’LL LIKE IT!

When it comes to marketing, we don’t get to choose what our prospects will accept and enjoy. They get to make that choice.

Granted, sometimes what your prospects accept and enjoy is somewhat invisible to them and so they can’t tell you about it because it was never a discrete, conscious choice for them. Fish evolved to live in water; they wouldn’t see this as a conscious choice they made. CEOs have “evolved” to accept and enjoy certain forms of marketing and reject or ignore others. They may not consciously understand why.

Is anyone “evolved” to prefer receiving daily emails? Some observations from my experience:

  1. Some folks who would ordinarily reject daily emails temporarily gain an appetite for them when faced with a painful, urgent problem the daily emails might help solve.
  2. The solution to some problems involves a mindset shift, and daily emails can be like drips of water wearing away resistance and effecting a mindset change. In these cases, emails with a blend of entertainment and information help avoid burning folks out while you apply the water drip therapy to their problem.
  3. Some desired outcomes are best accomplished with steady, incremental effort. Daily emails can help folks acquire skills with this kind of learning curve.
  4. Some domains that people want to be informed about are large enough and change frequently enough that daily emails can be a useful way of delivering informational updates or analysis without risk of reader burnout.
  5. There will always be some “email frequency fundamentalists” who will reject daily emails even if one of the above situations applies to them. They aren’t responding to the value proposition of your specific daily emails, they’re responding to their judgement about daily emailing in general.
  6. There will be folks who subscribe to daily emails out of curiosity or because they think the emails might be useful, but quickly stop paying attention to them because the volume of content is high and the relevance to their needs is not high.

I think your takeaway from this list should be this: for readers, the value of daily emails is contextual. A CEO who happily subscribes to a high quality daily briefing on their sector might reject a high quality daily marketing email. It’s less about frequency and more about the relevance of the content to their needs.

Daily publishing gives you more “at bats” than a weekly or lower frequency, so it gives you more opportunities to connect with your list members. The flip side is it gives you more opportunities to demonstrate irrelevance to their needs. 🙂

It’s important to understand the points I made above. If you want to be effective at reaching your market, it’s also important to understand what forms of marketing they will and won’t accept.

However, there may be times that you ignore what your market wants because creating future value for them involves a tradeoff. You might choose to — for a time — engage in marketing activities your market doesn’t accept in order to create future value for them. In other words, you might serve your market imperfectly now so you can serve them more perfectly later. That future perfected service is enabled by the current imperfect service.

This is how I tend to view daily publication: it’s a method for cultivating valuable expertise more quickly than client work alone would. The publishing applies productive pressure that accelerates your thinking and learning. Writing alone doesn’t apply this pressure — you have to publish. The rapid cadence gives you more opportunities to think “out loud” about things and forces you to become more opportunistic about finding interesting ways to convey your insights. And finally, using email for daily publication rather than a social media platform provides a confidential feedback mechanism for your readers.

Bottom line: yes, what your market prefers matters. But your ability to use effective means of cultivating expertise also matters, and if daily publication is one such method for you, then you can feel confident about using it to create future value for your market, even if only a small segment of your market wants to receive a daily email from you.

It might be obvious, but in case it’s not I’ll say: I’ve never heard anyone talk about marketing as a vehicle for expertise cultivation. Why not? We’re not F500 brands with huge siloed marketing departments and lawyers paid to keep us from making visible mistakes. Why shouldn’t we use our marketing activities to simultaneously deepen our expertise? 1

“I’m so glad I waited until my 50’s to get in shape!”

^^^ Said no one ever.

Is there a terrible time to embrace the daily publishing challenge? Is there an ideal time? Well, it’s like planting a tree. Generally, the earlier the better, except you do need to know where to plant that tree. Too close to the house, and it’ll grow into a nuisance, and too far away and it won’t provide shade or privacy.

If daily publishing is an effective marketing vehicle for your market, and you’re not using it as an expertise-cultivation tool, then start doing it whenever. Preferably now.

If you’re using daily publication to create future value through expertise, then think about when to start it using the following guidelines:

  • If you’re not clear on how you might focus your business, consider daily publication as a “stress test” for your level of interest in various ways of specializing. Don’t use daily publication as an expertise cultivation tool (yet). Instead, use it as a way to understand how deep your level of interest in a potential area of specialization goes.
  • Aside from the previous situation, consider daily publication after you’ve decided how to specialize, after you’ve gotten some traction with your specialization, and when you’re ready to work your ass off deepening your expertise.

Must it be writing?

My podcast partner Liston and I occasionally ask each other this question: does modern marketing demand that you use writing, or get better at writing?

Liston says, yes, you ultimately need to be a competent writer to optimize your marketing. The hippy part of me wants to imagine a big tent of all the freaky people doing great marketing, some of them writing but some of them doing things like turning on a podcasting microphone daily, verbally riffing, and producing extremely interesting, compelling, relevant stuff that their audience loves receiving.

I think the jury’s out on this question 2. And I also think for most of us, Liston’s right. Your daily publishing needs to be writing, or if it’s audio or video, it’ll rely on the same things that make for good writing (good structure, interesting verbal patterns, etc.), or at least rely on a solid written outline.

Must you have an audience?

No, but it makes things better.

This is one of the expertise bootstrapping problems. It’s easier to cultivate expertise (and opportunity) when you’re in contact with others. An audience’s questions help direct and focus your efforts. Their questions provide a useful reality check. An audience makes things better.

Publishing daily to a tiny or non-existent audience can be dispiriting, even if your original motivation was to deepen your expertise. You can even take the tiny audience size or slow audience growth as a condemnation of your expertise.

However, nobody outside of the children of monarchs or celebrities is born with an audience. The rest of us have to build one.

And yet, if you invite the goal of audience growth to the dinner party of expertise cultivation, you may find audience growth to be a very obnoxious dinner guest, constantly interrupting the expertise-cultivation conversation.

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I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about reaching more people with your expertise, but the tension between that goal and cultivating the actual expertise can be an uneasy one. If you had to choose only one of the two, I’d choose expertise cultivation until a robust foundation of expertise is in place, then I might choose audience cultivation. The reality is that we don’t have to make either/or decisions like this, so I’d start out focusing on expertise cultivation primarily and audience growth secondarily until a robust foundation of expertise exist, then I might elevate the importance of audience-building.

I haven’t come across an easy mode for audience cultivation, so I believe we have to live as best we can with this tension between wanting an audience, suffering from not having a large audience, and starting out with a tiny or non-existent audience. I realize that this will cause some who could benefit from daily publication to avoid the practice, which is a shame.

Quitting

When might you transition out of daily publication into something else, or quit daily publication entirely? Quit when:

  • You start seeingdiminishing returns on expertise cultivation. You’d observe this over multiple months, not a shorter timeframe. What appear to be diminishing returns over a shorter timeframe of days or weeks might just be noise rather than signal.
  • Mission accomplished. You’ve built a foundation of functional expertise and daily publication was always more beneficial to you than to your market, so you’re now ready to channel that expertise into marketing that’s a better match for your market.

Wrap-up

There’s actually a lot more to say about daily publication. It’s a rich topic, and there’s more to say about the emotional challenge it represents, and more to say about the logistics of actually doing it.

I say some of those things here, in the first 9 episodes of this podcast: https://theexpertiseincubator.transistor.fm/episodes?utf8=✓&year=2018&month=

I know daily publication is not for everybody, but I hope more of you are seduced into trying it. Aside from specializing, it’s been the single best thing I’ve done for my own expertise.

-P


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Notes

  1. I know the answer to this question (fear of vulnerability) but I’ll leave the question hanging and move on rather than talking more about fear of vulnerability, which really deserves a separate treatment.
  2. And I think there’s an interesting research question embedded in there!