Chris Brogan, CEO of Human Business Works, book author, and publisher of Owner Magazine, sends out an email letter early on Sunday mornings. Sometimes I read it and sometimes I don’t. When I do, I always find myself engaged. Why?
The simple format of a letter gives it a personal appeal. But there is more.
In his letters Chris Brogan makes me, the business owner, the hero of the story.
Because that feels good, I look for ways to make my customers the hero of the story. I find examples, too. See how the Association of Equipment Manufacturers features contractors in their Quality of Life campaign. These infrastructure projects are helping hundreds of thousands of people each day and behind each one is a dedicated, experienced contractor who is part of a larger community.
Will I share my story, he asks
“I’d love to hear your story and the story of the people you serve.” Okay. I feel a bit honored to be asked to share my story with Chris Brogan. He tells customer stories in a way that lets me know he’s a good listener. Do I give customers an opportunity to tell who they are? I am reminded to listen, and not introduce solutions before I understand the problem I am there to solve.
Show vulnerability or at least that you are human
One of Brogan’s letters starts like this: “It doesn’t always go the way I want it to go.” It is a clever start to his letter on how to know if you need a new plan or just tweak the existing one.
Connect people and the dots
Brogan often mentions encounters and relationships with everyday business people, not celebs. In so doing he makes the community stronger and inclusive. By sharing his connections and his insights he shows a willingness to collaborate and help solve problems. He doesn’t mention how generous he is. The audience feels this intuitively.
In his letters, Brogan is always asking questions. I like open-ended questions. Whenever a customer makes a declarative statement such as “We provide excellent service.” I like to follow with the question: “Which means?” One of Brogan’s favorites is: “What does that look like?” You will not get a canned response to questions like these. If the customer starts squirming, nurture them. “I know it’s sometimes hard to put this into words…”
Grow your business
Brogan is not afraid to promote his business to the community he serves. Talking about a webinar being offered, he writes: “Sometimes, the gap between knowing how to make money and being able to do the work you love seems really vast.” He is not offering a solution with that statement but a connection. When people feel connected they are more likely to engage (and register). See the difference between his approach and this one: “Register today for the Make More Money webinar”?
Alas, I have discovered why these letters engage me so. They make me feel good and teach me things about how to grow my business.