Six Porcupines Ping-Pong Ham Sandwich La La La

October 22, 2015

Weird Headline. Let me explain.

In high school, I was shy but liked girls and wanted a girlfriend. So, I asked a cool, Richard Gere-looking friend of mine (let’s call him Dylan) how to meet girls.

His advice was 1) say anything, and 2) make them laugh. Looking back, I realize he left out the all-important third rule: be Dylan.

Because of his looks, Dylan could have gone up to any girl and said “six porcupines ping-pong ham sandwich la la la” while wearing a flowered housedress and a chef’s hat, and within the hour he’d be alone with the girl in his parents’ basement.

There’s An Email Marketing Lesson In Here Somewhere.

When you plan your next email, think back on how silly I was for thinking I could meet girls by following Dylan’s rules. Likewise, you’re not going to get your best email marketing results by executing every best practice in a methodical, persnickety, exhaustive way. Email marketing success also depends on what you ARE.

Here’s a real statistic: 90% of startups fail. And it’s not for lack of following email marketing best practices. The main reason is a lack of demand.

This can be a hard pill to swallow. There’s comfort in believing our efforts and actions hold primacy over our essence. After all, we’re creatures of will, intention, values. Through action we grow, define ourselves and affect change in the world. It would be nice to think we can work hard and rule-follow our way to success.


Consider the case of Dylan. He was in demand just by the fact of his existence. He didn’t need best practices. As marketers, we ignore this natural fact at our peril. Hard work is great, but being in demand — being Dylan — is even better. Can we will ourselves to be like Dylan?

Yes. Demand equals having something a particular market wants. It takes soul-searching, vision, and passion. I’m not going to discuss how to meet demand. Others have done this far beyond any capacity I have to that direction.

What I can do, however, as a marketing verbiage savant, is assure you that once you figure out how to create and offer something that warrants existence (and I think you have), the hard part is over. Your success no longer hinges on perfecting your marketing messages down to the pixel or avoiding the landmines of newbie faux pas. The majority of what happens next will be the result of showing up and being you.

Email is the ideal way to show up.

With email, you can go in any direction. Show pictures, explain things, or let your hair down. It’s versatile, targeted, and relatively ephemeral. Email lets you test the waters and connect with the people who will enjoy your presence in their lives.

DO NOT make the mistake of waiting until you have a so-called comfort level with the medium. Don’t follow someone else’s roadmap. Don’t feel bogged down or intimidated by all the email marketing tips. Those skills will develop over time, or you’ll invent your own proven methods unique to you.

Until then, show your audience what you’re doing and offering. Beyond that, follow Dylan’s rules: 1) say anything, 2) make them laugh, and 3) Be YOU.

Some things never change. After 20 years, Dylan’s rules remain the most interesting marketing principles I’ve encountered.

Also, Dylan, I hear, is still in his parents’ basement.

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