Email & the Bear


I grew up in a rural part of Pennsylvania – a small college town smack-dab in the middle of the state. If you were to cut Pennsylvania in the middle by length and again by height, where the two points intersect is where I grew up.

It was a good childhood. 

Dad loved nature and photography, and we didn’t have a lot of money to spare so our family entertainment was so drive “up over the mountain” for the afternoon – and maybe stop for ice cream somewhere along the way. We did that a lot, actually, and it was at an early age that I learned about all the things that live and grow in Central PA woods … including bears.

Bears were a rare sight, so when there were rumors of one in the area, we’d go searching to see if we could spot them and try to get a few decent photos.

Fast-forward to this month.

I don’t live in Pennsylvania anymore but through the beauty of social media, I’ve stayed connected to some of the folks from my hometown. In this last month, a surprising number of them have posted photos of the bears’ destruction. 

Bears are hitting the garbage cans, causing a lot of mess! After months of bears hibernating and being less active, now that summer is here, garbage is thrown everywhere as they sniff their way through the neighborhoods.

The bears are looking for food, and they don’t care about you or if they make a mess.

(I know what you are thinking … what does this have to do with email and marketing?)

Email newsletters can be perceived in the same way by your audience, if you aren’t careful. 

You get busy so you go dormant. You neglect much of your marketing, including your email newsletter. 

And then as you wind down your busy season and look at the months ahead, you think, “Hmmm … I need to drum up some business.” What do you do? You blast out emails!

  • Emails with “special offers!”
  • Emails with “Here are our wonderful services!”
  • Emails with “Check us out” (and see how fantastic we are) language. 

To give you perspective, here are two email types I see often:

  • You are a builder/remodeler who has a model home to sell. You only send an email when those homes are on the market – to all of your subscribers, without segmenting between customers interested in building and those interested in remodeling. You never email your list any other time. 
  • You are a small contractor who also does snow removal in the winter. You only email when you are drumming up snow plowing business (during your leaner income months). 

From your audience’s perspective, all of it feels … wrong. Irritating. 

It feels like you’ve woken up in rural Pennsylvania to find that a bear has dumped your garbage can. 

And the more emails you send with those messages to drum up business, the more it feels like you are waking up to garbage strewn across your driveway by the bear … again.

Your audience gets irritated with the off-messages and either ignores you (i.e., unopened emails) or unsubscribes. Ouch.

What do you do when your email program has gone dormant? 

Here are some ways to spark energy – and conversation – back into your email newsletter program.

  1. Think about your email newsletter from your audience’s perspective, not yours. Turn those “check us out” messages into something that they actually want to know more about. 
  2. Share information that will be helpful to your reader, such as a tip or a behind-the-scenes look at a process, like tile selection, for example. It’s routine for you; it’s a fascinating art for consumers.
  3. Slow down the CTAs. Every newsletter should have a call-to-action (CTA), but after being dormant for months, instead of a “buy now” CTA, what about one that invites them to connect with you on social media instead?

And finally, make a plan to never let your email newsletter program go dormant again!


P.S. I can help you map out a plan for revitalizing your email newsletter program. Here’s how…

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2 thoughts on “Email & the Bear”

    1. I’m sure it did, Jay. It’s been a while since we’ve both lived in Central PA, but the memories of our exploring youth live on. Thanks for commenting!

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