What a great metaphor to discuss email. Stephen Covey has long reigned as one of the core pioneers of self development and time management principles. As such, I'm a firm believer that the
email space can benefit from the core principles of the "7 Habits" series. You must first realize that your paradigm (the way each person sees the world, essentially your "lens"), may be
diametrically different from that of many of your counterparts and customers you are trying to reach. So, take these metaphoric analogies with a grain of salt.Habit 1:
The premise is simple. It's more than taking initiative, it's about accepting responsibility and making choices based on principles rather than moods or
circumstances. In online marketing it's really easy to take the easy road without putting much thought into email marketing planning. Target a list, send an email and you're done. But to
evolve, you must not skip the planning stages and the opportunity to try new things. Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind.
My favorite phrase translated for
email marketers. If you don't develop a mission statement -- where you want your program to be -- how on earth will you ever get there? It can be simple as list growth, it can be centered
on "reach," or you can draw from "engagement" and look to find transitional points in the customer engagement cycle that you can track to. For each, you should develop a finite end point toward
which you can build and communicate broadly.Habit 3: Put First Things First.
Arguably, the first and most important element of your program is your "list." It
all lives and thrives from there. It grows and evolves and is the core asset of your practice. Growth should outpace attrition. You'll have a constant battle reaching everyone every time,
but protect each consumer that comes in and respect this asset as if your business depends on it, because it does. Think of how you attained this permission, how you'll respect it and how you'll build
value in it over time.Habit 4: Think Win-Win.
Think of the people on your team who do SEO and SEM, who buy media, work with affiliates, who keep evolving your Web
site. You have an impact on them all, but you have to find reasons to build value in what you do and translate that into a win-win scenario for these other parts of your business. You are
part of a family of interchangeable parts, and attribution is non-exclusive. Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.
Most don't understand
what's involved with email, but if you try to tell people who have never managed a list, staged a campaign or tried to run analysis on 25 domains, that email is hard and valuable, it falls on deaf
ears. You should find a common understanding of results and attribution, but understand it means something different to each person. If you don't understand what drives your business and
your dependent groups, you will never be understood and never be heard.Habit 6: Synergize.
This isn't about compromise; it's about growing out of compromise.
In our world of online marketing, we can call this optimization -- the trade-offs of time, budget and ideas. The consummate marketer has to find creative ways to manage with today's budget, but
build and grow for tomorrow. This is only done through the development of many ideas, the irreplaceable desire to try new things and take risks. If I had an idea for every excuse I've
heard for not achieving results, I'd be a very wealthy man. Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw.
I continually challenge my team to learn and grow. The only way
you'll increase your value to your organization is through self-growth and development. You must continually challenge yourself to learn. Email is only one small element of the marketing
mix, with some of the most essential principles you'll need -- but it's up to you to develop yourself. Try reading new books outside email marketing (we all say the same things in those books
anyway). A good one you should pick up is "Chasing
-- you'll love the ideas and case studies, and it does a soul good to think "ideas," not execution.