Something I often run into are dedicated email “contritionists.” Folks who like to write apologetic things like this in their email outreach:

We know you receive a lot of unwanted email, and we want you to know that we value your privacy. We hate spam as much as you do, but we wanted to tell you about….

You know the rest.

I don't call that email marketing, I call it “ whimper marketing,” and I think it's totally unnecessary. In fact, if you're engaged in marketing you feel a need to apologize for, stop marketing.

Come on gang. Stand tall. Chin up. You send out direct email and you're proud of it.

You know it's not spam. You know there's a difference between porn and what you do, between cheap mortgages and what you do, between generic Viagra and what you do.

Between you and that tragic third-world widow who just needs you to launder a billion dollars for her.

You're not spamming. You're marketing. Spam is bad. Marketing is good.

And you're using a respectable medium to send a respectable message of value to people who can benefit from it.

(Of course if you are spamming, if you're one of those nitwits who send me the same messages five times a day under different sender names for golf clubs and big money opportunities stuffing envelopes… there's no hope for you anyway and you should stop reading this and go add some more exclamation points to your outbound emails.)

I send out email. I have a newsletter. You know how I get people to subscribe? I don't wait for them to opt in. My marketplace consists of C-level people, and the people who influence them. Generally speaking, they don't opt in to anything—they have no time to spend on the Web. I value and appreciate the people who opt in to my newsletter, but I also realize that they are not likely to be hiring me—it's their bosses' bosses who do that.

No. I find the names of the people I want to reach, I determine what their email addresses are, and I reach out to them.

First I send them an email and ask if I can send my newsletter, and then I send it to them—every other week like clockwork. A few say no. A very few.

The rest say yes because they recognize from the first email that I'm not sending them junk. I let them know what the newsletter contains (articles very much like those I write here), point them to my archives so they can taste the goods, and so on.

(And, by the way, there's a real craft to getting emails read. It has little to do with sizzling headlines and a lot to do with talking to a marketplace about things the marketplace wants to be talked to about. But that's a whole other matter.)

And they read those newsletters when they arrive. Sure, some must block them. And some certainly dump them when they see my name. But something along the lines of 70% read them, and I'm satisfied with that.

And I do this without going on a blather about spam and privacy and cluttered inboxes and so on. If they don't want to receive it, they will tell me so. If they don't like what they're receiving, they'll ask me not to send it anymore. And I won't. They're grownups. (And besides, most of them are likely email marketers as well, so we're compatriots, not combatants.)

I know it's not spam, so I see no reason to bring the issue up. And my list knows it, too, and doesn't need to be reassured.

We get along just fine without my apologizing for wanting to sell them something.

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image of Michael Fischler

Michael Fischler is founder and principal coach and consultant of Markitek (, which for over a decade has provided marketing consulting and coaching services to companies around the world, from startups and SMEs to giants like Kodak and Pirelli. You can contact him by clicking here.