The third time I received the invite, I immediately declined.
But let’s back up.
About a year prior, I showed up to my friend’s house with an appetizer and some seltzer for a “girls’ night.” I was so delighted to get the invite because I hadn’t seen (let’s call her) ‘Sally’ for a few years.
Sally and I had been the best of friends but life happens and we just didn’t spend as much time together. I still really enjoyed her company, though, and I felt special to be invited
She opened the door. “Come IN! It’s so good to SEE you!”
I drifted to the kitchen and noticed. . . paperwork.
“THIS is Nancy and she’s going to be doing our wine tasting tonight!” said Sally.
This was not a Girls’ night. This was a “party” wherein I would be expected to buy something.
Dammit. Ok, well, back when I was part of the regularly scheduled program, we did these things a lot and it was fine. Fun, sometimes, even. I settled in.
A year or so later, I got another invite. Maybe it was for spa night? “SURE! I’ll come!” I wrote back.
(At this point you must be thinking, “Katie, you big dummy.)
Anyway, at the appointed time, I put on some “activewear” and headed over.
You guessed it.
“Spa night” was code for, “We’re gonna try all of these bath products and then buy things.”
Today’s email is not about MLMs
or “Network Marketing” or any of that.
This email is about the fact that for a good five or seven years the only time I heard from this person is when she had something to sell.
Fool me once
When searching for image to accompany this email, I started by googling “Clowns.”
That was a big mistake.
Next up was “court jester.” Close, but not quite.
Then, I searched “Fool”
And found this.
A Tarot card.
It turns out the meaning of the Fool card in Tarot is “new beginnings,” “potential,” “first steps,” “congratulations on starting a journey.”
What a way to re-frame a word that has always had a shameful connotation for me, and use it as a jumping off point.
As permission to leave old ways of doing things behind and chart a new path.
What about Sally?
Sally and I are still excellent friends.
I played The Fool and started inviting her to dinner a couple of times a year.
Now I feel more like a friend and less like a money faucet.
What about you?
Fall is a “gear up and re-open” time for some garden related businesses. It’s a “wind down and shut down” season for others.
The inclination is to stop marketing. Stop email. Stop social. Stop SMS.
“I don’t want to bother my customers,” is what I hear a lot. (When I’m on the road speaking I specifically ask people what their hesitation is with email marketing or SMS marketing and that is their answer.)
Hear me out:
The super businessey business reason not to grind to a complete halt on marketing is that if you stop emailing or texting customers for 4-6 months your list will die. First email back, unsubscribes, bounces, etc. will shoot through the moon. People will be out of the habit of checking the emails you send. (The last movie I went to in the theaters after going almost once a week for decades was January 2020. I haven’t been back. I’m not scared. I’m just out of the habit. That’s another newsletter for another time.)
Here’s the human reason: The fastest way to ensure that someone deeply understands that the only reason you communicate with them is to try to get them to buy stuff is to stop communicating with them when you’re closed or when you have nothing to sell.
You can cut back a bit. Just make sure you tell your customers what you’re doing, “It’s winter break! We’re emailing you a monthly newsletter every month on the 10th. It’ll be full of inspiration and plant care tips, rather than weekly about events and specials.”
Playing The Fool
There’s nothing a marketer loves more than a rebrand, so I’m rebranding playing the fool (being dumb) to playing the fool (charting a new path).
Seeing customers as nothing but dollar signs is the old way of doing business.
Seeing them as part of your community, and treating them as such, is the new way of business.
You’re not a fool.
But you can certainly play one.
Have you checked your website page load time lately? Here’s why you might want to.
SMS 101: Everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask.
How to write and build readable newsletters. – Check out Jenny’s great blog for us!
Housekeeping: I will be on vacation August. 26-September 5. Gabriela is the Manager on Duty (firstname.lastname@example.org), and the rest of your trusty GOW team will be here. (Gabriela made us a new team picture. Check it out.)
True story: one time I was visiting my family, but taking calls from someone about setting up a time to meet a new potential client. The someone told me to NOT to tell the potential client I was on vacation.
“Well, they’re gonna find out I don’t answer emails or phone calls on Fridays pretty soon, so I might as well be forthright about my schedule.”
Pretending not to be human: Old way of business.
Being human: New way of business.
Do you have a favorite Tarot card? A funny Tarot story? Something I should read about Tarot? All of a sudden I’m intrigued. Email me.