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Talking Content Marketing – With Ian Brodie


Whilst the Talking Content Marketing travels have taken us overseas, it is good to come back to home soil back in the UK and welcome Ian Brodie.

Ian is a consultant and author of Email Persuasion and helps businesses gain more customers, particularly using online marketing strategies.

Ian helps independent business to champion against the big competitors and works for others to deliver real value to their clients rather than flashy “get rich quick” merchants.

The focus for our chat is using email as a valuable owned media tool for your content armoury.


Where do companies go wrong when using email as a channel to build an audience?

Ah… so many problems it’s difficult to know where to start!

The first problem is not being willing to invest over the long term. So they buy a (bad) email list and blast out promotions to it rather than building their own subscriber base and nurturing relationships with those subscibers.

Or they get tied up in the technology rather than focusing on the business value they’re going to get and how to maximise that

Or they just don’t prioritse email marketing and so their sign up forms are buried at the bottom of big long pages and never see the light of day.

Or they don’t put enough focus and thought into really understanding their ideal clients, what they care about, what their big goals problems, challenges and aspirations are, and what they would need to know and feel to be ready to hire the company. Without knowing those factors it’s really difficult to send emails that engage your audience and get them to take action.


Should we treat email as more of a conversation and not just ‘read me and now buy from me’?

You’ve hit the nail on the head really. The emails that people get that they pay attention to and take action on are almost always conversations. Emails from our husband or wife, our friends and our colleagues are all about interaction and conversation. And they’re the ones we look forward to and take action on. Our brains are pretty well trained these days to ignore obvsious adverts and sales pitches.


Is becoming better at using email (to eventually persuade) when we start to use our personalities more and not get bogged down in trying to sound important and use corporate speak?

For us small businesses and solo practitioners, absolutely yes. Our big advantage, perhaps our only advantage against huge corporate competitors is our own unique personality and experience.

The emails I’ve sent that have generated the very best response both in terms of people replying to me and in terms of people buying from me have been when I’ve been brave enough to open up and just be me in the emails. When I’ve admitted my weaknesses and failings (and what I learnt from them). From when I’ve shared what I care about, or just personal stories with a little embedded lesson. The day you stop saying “we” when there’s only really one of you in the business is the day you grow up and start connecting with your potential clients honestly. And they’ll love you for it.


Should we become more focused on being more meaningful to those people who matter? 

One of the most common concerns I hear from people doing email marketing is when they begin to get people unsubscribing from their emails. But the truth is that it’s much better to be loved by a few people (and perhaps even hated by others) than it is to be just mildly liked by everyone.

If people love you, they’ll spend money with you. Just liking you a bit isn’t enough. And to stir enough emotion to be loved, you also have to risk being hated. Not everyone will love what you do or what you say. You just have to ignore the people you don’t connect with and focus on being the perfect match for the people who love you.


Are companies too quick to jump into using email as a marketing tool ie. ‘lets use Mailchimp, it’s free’ without understanding why they are using it in the first place ie. inform, educate, advise, sell?

I think there’s a lot of truth in that. The particular technology you use for email marketing is much less important that how you use it. And pretty much every major tool does a decent job of basic email marketing. 

Ideally you want to figure out what you want to do with your emil marketing first, then pick the system that matches. 


Who’s email newsletter would you never press the ‘unsubscribe’ button?

For me that has to be Richard Koch. Author of the 80:20 Principle and founder of LEK Consulting. Richard writes on topics from management consulting to history to philosophy and religion. And he’s consistently thought provoking and insightful on each of those topics: a true renaissance man.

Huge thanks to Ian for his time and joining the Talking Content Marketing family.

If you would like to delve deeper into using email as a key part of your content armoury and insights from Ian on email marketing and access the free resources from his best-selling book Email Persuasion, head over to

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