Some context for the folks at home: The person emailing this question is taking Let’s Fix Your Business. There’s a whole lotta backstory of what happened before she asked this question, and a whole lotta stuff that happened after she asked this question. But for now, we’re going to take it as a little vignette, a slice of the life of an evolving ittybiz owner.
The writer is, at the time of the letter, on the cusp of making SIGNIFICANT changes to the content she’s sending to her email list. It would not be unreasonable to assume a number of her subscribers are going to unsubscribe as a result of these changes. So that’s where we are today.
Hi Naomi and David,
I’m wondering if you can speak very briefly to the value of people opting OUT of your list.
I’ve noticed that as my business evolves and my message begins to get clearer and clearer, people begin to opt-out of my subscriber list.
Now, I do realize the many reasons WHY this is a good thing for me. As I’ve really used the content in your class to help me get much clearer on who my top buyers are and what’s most valuable for them, I realize that as I tweak my content and make a variety of changes it might not sit will with the people who have just been hanging around but were never going to buy anyway.
Maybe I’m just asking for a little re-assurance at the moment.
I do know I’m on the right path and all your strategies have felt right on the ‘money’ to me. I guess I’d just love to hear a direct comment from you on “the value of people leaving your list!” AND as I”m making changes to content and frequency of my notes to my audience would you recommend calling attention to and explaining WHY you’re making these changes?
Thanks so much!
This is a very good question, because it can be scary as hell even when you fully know what’s going on under the hood and you know you’re doing the right thing.
Scary doesn’t go away by virtue of making the right choice. :-) It can still feel like walking into the lion’s den, because sometimes you ARE ***walking into the lion’s den, but it still needs to be done.
Fortunately, this is not one of the lion’s den moments, so we’ll give thanks for that.
Now, let’s get to the reassurance part. You didn’t ask this question to hear about lions.
What you’re seeing here is the direct results of creating polarity – a clear stance on what your list is about and who it is for.
One side effect of polarity is that people who either aren’t interested in your direction or who kind of wanted the old approach you were taking will frown, sigh, and shake the dust off of their sandals on the way out of town. Sometimes they’re vocal about that, but that’s what the delete button is for.
(This is only a temporary side effect, because soon enough those people will be off your list, and the war of attrition will be won.)
The other side effect – and this is good news – is that the people who are on your list who are very resonant with your new direction, who very much identify with the new, clearer, stance you’re taking – will be extremely happy with your decision. They will smile, breathe a sigh of relief, and kick their shoes off. They’re staying for the duration.
It’s a little like that moment in season four of your favorite television show when those people who are “right” for each other finally getting around to that first kiss. The audience is shouting “FINALLY!” and breathing a sigh of relief.
(Actually, that’s usually a very bad thing in television shows, because part of the mystery of the show was the constant sexual tension, the “will they or won’t they?”, and now that’s gone. It was particularly bad for the 1980’s show Moonlighting, but now I’m dating myself. In the case of lists, this negative effect doesn’t apply. So just ignore me here.)
The bottom line is that it’s a weird and uncomfortable transition for you as the list owner, but it will pass.
Some people will trickle off your list, yes. Maybe a lot of people.
But keep in mind what your business will look like 5 years down the road. The vast majority of all the people who will be on your list in the future are not on your list now. If you have a list of 500 people now, and 5 years from now you have a list of ten thousand – well, 9,500 of those people haven’t found you yet.
But you’ve taken the first step – you’ve embraced polarity and made your message clear as your business evolves.
And when the people on your list can see your clear message, it makes it very easy for them to share your content with others. Because no one likes to share a vague, scattered message. It can’t be done.
But now it can. And that’s where those other 9,500 people will come from.
One last note: Don’t announce to your list that you’re making the changes. Just make them. Let them come to their own conclusions, let them ease into it, and people will never to be able to put their finger on why your list is getting better – they’ll just feel it.
I hope this answers your question – and that Naomi’s answer helped reassure you as well.
All my best,