What Email Marketers Can Learn From 'The Profit'

My limited schedule means I don’t get a lot of time for television watching. I do, however, always prioritize the latest episode of CNBC’s show “The Profit.”  Each episode of this reality show centers on a struggling small business and “The Profit” — Marcus Lemonis — who agrees to invest in and save the business. The catch is that the business must allow for Lemonis to be “100% in charge” and make drastic changes that will ultimately save the business. The businesses that give him full authority to do his best work often go on to be tremendously successful.  

How does Lemonis turn these businesses around?  He applies a simple, yet proven philosophy, which is to focus on the areas of people, process, and product. His dedication to seeing small businesses succeed and the knowledge I come away with after each episode has kept me watching the show again and again. In light of the show’s season 4 premiere on Aug. 23, I thought it fitting to apply some Marcus Lemonis-style thinking to email marketing:



Not only is it important to have the right people working in your organization, but it’s important to ensure people are in the right roles. Email marketing can be a stressful and sometimes thankless operational role within organizations.

Because the job can come with so much pressure, personnel successes and failures usually become evident more quickly than in other areas of marketing. It’s important to be quick in responding.

Is your team staffed with people that understand the proper way to negotiate and interface with those making demands of the team? If not, coach them on the right decorum to help them become more influential and positive when working with internal clients, since that’s critical to the job.

What are you doing to ensure job satisfaction? Openly praise those doing a good job and ensure they understand their part in the team’s success. Are you providing a career path for those on your team?  Sometimes your best employees need to be given more responsibility on the email team or moved onto another team to thrive and feel a personal level of growth and achievement.  


Process is critical in email marketing, and it goes beyond the development and deployment lifecycles. Here are some areas that should be airtight and have a documented process:

•    The email development lifecycle, including coding, building, QAing, and deploying.
•    Reporting, which includes an outline of desired metrics, frequency of refreshes, and recipients of reports.
•    Acquisition and unsubscribe audits should be done at least twice annually.
•    Reply handling, and how to respond to those replies. (If you don’t accept marketing email replies, I encourage you to change your practice immediately.)  
•    Planning meetings, their frequency, and who will be participants in strategic decisions.
•    Crisis management and what role emails plays in that process — even if it’s not an email crisis but a companywide one affecting customers that need to be notified.
•    Privacy policy reviews, their frequency, and which parties will be involved.
•    How data flows in and out of your ESP, and details on what is contained within those data feeds.


I’m focusing on the email content, as I’d argue that is email’s product.  Whether you are trying to get someone to register for a webinar, buy a product or read an article, email has to be very good at selling the click that leads to the conversion. This is done through the content contained within the email, which includes copy, creative and the overall visual presentation.

Data should be driving content, helping to determine what gets presented. Are you still sending one-size-fits-all messages?  Are you not optimizing for the mobile experience? Are your email metrics showing a steady YOY decline?  It might be time to take a look at the end product you are producing and audit ways to improve what you are presenting to customers in the inbox.

Sometimes email marketers get so wrapped up in the production of getting messages out the door that they forget to step back and look at the product they’re putting in front of customers. There isn’t a product in the world that doesn’t need some level of innovation over time to keep up with increasing consumer expectations. To quote Lemonis, “If you’re not evolving, you’re dying.”

Are you a fan of Lemonis and his philosophy?  Do you believe his way of thinking could benefit your team? Let me know in the comments!

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