It’s emo February.
“You won’t be the first or be the last to bleed. Every broken heart as far as the eye can see is a copy of a copy of a copy.”
Sometimes you just need to write some email copy and, like, cry.
“Katie, oh my gosh calm DOWN. It’s just February.”
The thing is, it’s pretty much the third February of the pandemic, we’re all running on fumes, and we’re about to launch into spring. Our third spring of chaos. Our third spring of, “Well, what NOW?”
Here’s my answer to WHAT NOW?
It started with this text. I’m blue.
Reader, I went to dinner.
Now, there’s a reason why the granola is front and center in this picture, but that’s a story for another day.
My answer to “WHAT NOW?” is to be a human, pay attention to how I feel, and act on those feelings.
I’m a little tired of hearing “We’re all in this together” but, well, we are.
In the most literal sense. We’re all, everyone reading this, alive at the same time.
And we’re all humans, those of us reading this.
Which means we all feel and experience the same emotions: love, loss, heartbreak, boredom, excitement, fear, contentment, grief, wonder.
(If you haven’t, check out this great book that maps 87 common human emotions and discusses the relationships between them.)
Take Your Feelings to Work
I think it’s useful to remember that, while individual people are kind of mysterious, the emotions we all feel are not. They can be researched, defined, named, explained, and examined in relation to each other. (And they have been. That’s what that book author did.)
That information — that emotions can be studied and explained — can be so useful in marketing.
Yes, you can use those emotions in a nefarious way to swindle people or manipulate them.
Or you can use emotions in a very generous way and delight people.
If we look at how we plan events, create products, write emails, make Instagram Reels or TikTok videos, if we look at how we show up for zoom calls and at the register, in team meetings and at family gatherings and we decide what we’re going to do now, my gut tells me that if we look at all of those interactions and activities and obligations and we start by naming the experiences and feelings that we want to have and that we want to create for our clients/customers/teammates and go from there, we’ll be just fine.
My friends who invited me to dinner wanted to feel togetherness. They wanted to feel loved, experience the taste of turkey, create joy, experience laughter, so they figured out a way to make that happen for themselves, and for others. They committed to cooking a turkey each quarter in 2022 and inviting their friends and family. This was the Q1 turkey. (Kim, if you’re reading this, I’m available for Q2, Q3, and Q4 turkey eating.)
I know they didn’t do it for marketing, but boy howdy will they be top of mind when I think of somewhere to grab a bite or refer a friend.
Because they made me feel delight, love, community.
Five Quick Ways to Show Up as a Human in your Business
– On Zoom: Select a song of the day. Preferably one that most people attending the meeting would know. Have it playing as everyone clicks onto the meeting. Greet everyone. Say hi! Ask how their day is. Ask them what they think about the song. Reserve 5 minutes to gather. We miss gathering. You don’t have to hop on zoom and go to work immediately.
– At the door of your retail space: Greet your customers. If you don’t recognize them, say “Have you been here before?” If they say yes, well, then say “Welcome back!” If they say “No” then you could say something like, “Oh I’m so excited to see what catches your eye!” or “We just got some gorgeous new XXXs in. They’re over there. If you need any help, grab one of us.” Much better than “Do you need anything? Nope Just looking.”
– Via Text for friends and co-workers: I’ve shared this before, and it comes from a book. Just text people, “On a scale of 1-10 how is your day?” If they text back a 6, say, “What can I do to make it a 7?” That’s it. Go from there!
– On social media: Re-share instagram stories and posts from your followers. Tag them so others can follow them, and send a little message to say “Thank you!”
– In conversation (and in marketing messaging): Give credit. Not because people long for credit, but people like knowing you heard them and you’re incorporating what they said. (But also, because it is always nice to share where something great originated.
For example, I might say, “So moving on to this next email campaign, like Nick said earlier, we’re going to calculate the entire discount that will happen when someone applies the coupon code and use that in the subject line.” “John, in my breakout group, asked what happens if you serve three different customers? Then what should your MDR be? That was a GREAT question and I’d like to help. Well, John said he serves wholesalers, retailers, and landscapers. If he wants to really direct them down specific paths on his website, he should have three choices at the top of his home page, one graphic and call to action button for each bucket of customers.”
How do you show up as human? It would make my day if you’d write back and tell me! It would really take my day from a 7 to an 8! 😉
Spot the Reindeer
If you have 20 minutes and want to dive deeper into this idea of creating community and being human, you might want to watch this talk I gave last week for the virtual global Garden Retail Conference.
In case you’re wondering if it will be useful to you, here’s what Regina from the Botanic Market in the Ukraine had to say about it:
“Thank you sincerely for your really smart ideas! I’ve always thought that the whole idea about being a community hub (or , let’s say, something MORE that just a garden centre) is associated with big investment. And you’ve given us forward a simple but very effective approach how to start doing it right now without spending big money on that.”
That MADE MY DAY. That was my aim. I hope it will help you.
Super fun video from Midwest Groundcovers They’re totally human. Now THIS is a fun way to explain what they do, who they are, how people can place orders, etc.
How do Millennials Differ from Boomers in their Approach to Home Improvement – nifty insights from Axiom, shared with me by our email manager Heather.
Finally, thank you for reading!
I write these emails as much for me as I do for you. They help me process the joy, pain, confusion, and excitement of being a small business owner.
They’re also a reflection of me being very committed to marching to my own beat. They’re not what “people” say a newsletter should be. If I designed these newsletters by consensus, these would look completely different. If you ever read them and think, “Does anyone want them? Do they make a difference?” I wanted to share that they do. For some people they do, and for my business they do, and that’s enough.
I want to work with humans marching to their own beat, and this newsletter is one way I find them.
Again, though, if you’re feeling the beat taking you elsewhere, click here to unsubscribe right now. No hard feelings. Just good feelings that you’re doing what you need to do for you.
Have an awesome rest of your week!