Applying Steve Jobs' Rules of Success to Email Marketing

  |  October 18, 2011   |  Comments

If you start with doing what you love, the rest will flow from there.

Entrepreneur Magazine recently ran an article titled "Steve Jobs and the Seven Rules of Success" by renowned communications coach and former national news correspondent Carmine Gallo. It's an inspiring article that lays out core advice for succeeding in any business. Without question, Steve Jobs was a singular talent who made an incredible impact on the world and how we all interact with technology and consume media. However, as Carmine points out, the principles Steve Jobs relied on can be applied to anyone looking to succeed. With that in mind, I took the liberty of customizing the following Steve Jobs axioms to the email marketing industry.

  1. Do what you love. If you think you might be a spammer, it's probably time to move on. One excellent gauge is whether you are able to tell your friends what you do without being overly defensive. If you can't, you should reconsider your role. If you're a responsible email marketer, than you should be proud. You play a critical role that enables you to provide measurable value to your brand and your audience every day.
  2. Put a dent in the universe. You need to have a vision for your program. It can't just be about the size of your list or the amount of revenue you bring in. You should be looking at finding ways to deepen the customer relationship in a way that benefits both brand and consumer. It's not just about what you can accomplish today, but what you are building to generate revenue over the long-term.
  3. Make connections. Connect ideas from different fields. With email marketing, like most other disciplines, you need to make cross-departmental connections to get the full value out of your efforts. Look around. You work with database analysts, creative directors, campaign managers, affiliates, acquisition partners, and service providers. Each and every one of them could provide you with critical information to improve your programs. Take the time to learn their roles and rules of engagement, and your campaigns will become stronger.
  4. Say no to 1,000 things. Strategy and vision comes down to being able to filter through ideas and land on the right one. Instead of trying to do everything, focus on the core elements of your email program that can really move the needle. Video in email might seem cool, but perhaps you need to nail your testing and optimization first.
  5. Create insanely different things. Leverage interactive email, leverage engaging lifecycle communications, test and fail quickly - one success outweighs many failures. Pay attention to the details, because your customers will. If you look and act exactly like all your competitors, you miss out on an opportunity to create a unique experience with your customers that they can all rally around.
  6. Master the message. Educate, inspire, and entertain when speaking about your program internally. It's not enough to know all the data points; you also need to be able to communicate them in a succinct way that is relevant to your core internal audiences. The same goes for your outbound campaigns. You need to distill your message down to its core and keep it central to your customer communications.
  7. Sell dreams, not products. Loading up an email with discounts and promotions might move a few products initially with a certain group of economically-minded customers, but that's not likely the path to long-term success. Instead, focus on selling in context, where you show the value that your products (and your brand) provide.

It all starts with number one, and the rest flow from that. Personally, I love data. I love monitoring and changing consumer behavior. I love database marketing. It's that passion that drives me to follow through with the other six success factors that have made Steve Jobs successful. The world has lost a great innovator, but we can all keep his spirit alive by adopting the principles he lived by.

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Tal Nathan

An industry veteran, Tal Nathan has been helping organizations deliver valued and effective email marketing services for more than 10 years. In his role of vice president of client services, Nathan manages all client services for StrongMail to ensure that their respective clients receive the highest level of professional service available in today’s competitive marketplace. Previously, Nathan served as vice president and general manager of client services for Epsilon, where he led online strategy for the company’s top-tier clients, with a focus on the retail, travel and financial verticals. Prior to Epsilon, he was the vice president of client engineering at infoGroup, where he led and managed integration services for its Yesmail division. No stranger to technology, Nathan began his career at BDO Seldman, where he provided a range of business management and technology services to Fortune 500 companies. Nathan holds a BS in mechanical engineering from UCLA.

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