I happen to know the owner of a little restaurant/bar across town. There is a small group of about 6-8 guys who go in around 7AM and sit at the same table. I don't go every day, but I go 2-3 times a week and have coffee, read the papers and talk about sports, politics, weather, etc. with these guys.
I call them all friends but I've never done anything socially with any of them. It's just a group of coffee buddies who've gotten to know each other through the years. Most are around my age and we all graduated from high school back in the Vietnam era.
Two days ago one of these guys was walking across the parking lot to go in when I pulled up. I mentioned that I heard him talking the other day about training dogs back years ago. I asked how he got into that.
I wouldn't have asked had known what it would bring up, but he began his story.
He explained that when he got out of high school he was drafted into the Army and was trained as a dog handler. He would work with dogs and train them to find anti-personnel devices.
He would take the point, 20 yards or so ahead of his men, on treks through the jungles. His dog would go before him sniffing out the way making sure there was nothing dangerous in the way. He told me how many dogs he lost... and it wasn't a pretty story. We both had tears in our eyes that were hard to hold back. He also explained that while he was never injured, one time a round went through the canteen strapped to his side and one went through his pants leg about his knee.
To the point. We all make instant judgments about people. We see them for ten seconds and make snap judgments about who they are. But people are more than what we see. They all have rich backgrounds, experiences, hopes, dreams and desires just like we do.
I get a lot of emails every day. Most are from guru types trying to promote an affiliate product. Buy this, click this, check this out... etc. They don't treat me like a real person and don't respect the fact that I am more than just a walking charge card who might order from them.
When email marketers don't respect me, and don't understand that I am a real person with feelings, hopes and desires myself--I tend not to respect them either. There are, on the other hand, a very few email marketers who give me something, if even something small, to try to earn my trust. And it doesn't have to be a 100 page ebook they give away, even just a quick one line tip is appreciated.
My point is simply that the people we email market to have depth in experiences and knowledge that we easily overlook--we just don't know and appreciate who they are and what they've done.
Maybe if we don't think of mailing to our list, but rather think in terms of mailing to individuals on that list we can create better relationships with our subscribers. And I'm as guilty of junk mailing as anyone, but I do try to give once in a while. I'm sure I need to do that more.
Just a thought. --Mike