Why your big list isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

by Kristen Beireis

It doesn't matter how big your list is. You can have 500 people or 10,000 people on your list, but that does not make or break your business. I know that is not what you are used to hearing. Since you started your coaching business you've probably been told that your first priority should be to growing your list. I beg to differ and I'll tell you why.

The theory behind the "big list" is a numbers game. It's percentages. 10% is a bigger amount of sales when you have 10,000 people on your list versus 500. So, the bigger your list is, the more people who will buy from you. This makes sense, but this approach has some inherent problems. Here are two most serious ones:

Problem #1: You have to do a lot of work to get those 10,000 people on your list. You have to reach out to many different corners of the universe and invite people to sign up. That's a lot of running around. It takes time away from other valuable marketing and business tasks. Most coaches who focus on the numbers end up concentrating on list-building for 3-6 months, working so hard to meet their subscriber goals that there is little other marketing going on. They are only paying attention to getting people into their list. And this brings me to the biggest problem of building a large list:

Problem #2: How can you focus on a relationship when you are focused on numbers? Potential clients want a relationship with you. As a coach, you are selling a specific type of relationship. Most marketing tactics that are effective at building numbers actually go against building a relationship. As with any marketing, if you are targeting a very specific group of people you will be more specific in your marketing. This allows people to truly identify with it and jump up to say, "I want more." If you are less specific, you'll get less interaction. If you focus only on getting more people on your list, versus getting the right people onto your list, you're not developing those specific relationships. You’re just creating a relationship with anyone who is willing to sign up. Sound cold? Well, it is! That's why it's not the best tactic for a coach.

So, what's the solution? Focus on your relationships. Increase your interaction with the people who want to play your way. Create a list of people who are active in your community and are ready to take action.

Think about that for a second. How many people on your mailing list right now are active in your community and ready to take action? Have you been so focused on bringing in as many people as you can that you've built a list of people who really don't want anything more than the freebie they signed up for to get on the list? With that kind of list you might get the "average" rate of return (i.e., the percentage of people who actually end up doing business with you). However, most coaches I know get well below the average return on a list they built by number.

People buy from those they trust. Do you trust people who are just trying to increase numbers? Have you ever signed up for a list where something felt a little fishy once you got there? I'll bet that's because the list owner wanted numbers.

Get 1,000 people who are active members of your list and aim for a relationship with people who want to play your way. You can play the numbers game all you want, but do it wisely.

Building a big list is like paint-by-numbers. You get a great picture, but you don't have art. To create art, you need to add your own perspective and make the picture your own.

So, go out and grow your list. Do it in your own unique and artistic way. Focus on identifying the most interactive and interested people and bringing them into your community as a member of your mailing list.

Communicate with them regularly in a way that gets them into conversation with you. This will instantly make you look like a star instead of a marketer. Your list will see you as helpful and they'll be willing to trust you. When you see the opportunity to grow your list in a way that is in integrity with the relationships you are building, then go for it.

So build a relationship, not a list. You'll get a higher return for MUCH LESS WORK.


Kristen Beireis is the owner of Coaches' Marketing Source, where she specializes in helping coaches get more clients by earning a higher level of trust. Her clients develop a more authentic way of marketing that is a beacon of light for those who are ready for their services. http://www.coachesmarketingsource.com.

4 thoughts on “Why your big list isn’t all it’s cracked up to be”

  1. Agreed, Terri. The key is focus. If you gear your marketing to those who like you most, more people will buy into and share your work. By speaking to them directly, you grow their trust in you. People buy from those they trust.

  2. Very well said, Kristen. So many folks are over-focused on how many people they have on their list rather than the quality of the connection they can make with them…it’s much more important to get the RIGHT people on your list, who like you (at least a little to start!), like what you have to say and offer, and eventually will buy and/or tell others about you. Thanks for highlighting this topic!

  3. Hey Tatiana,
    I’m so glad this article was helpful for you. In what way did it ring true for you? I’d love to know what you are taking away and how you will apply the concepts in this article…if you are willing to share.
    Create a great day!

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