The Dos and Don’ts of Outreach

October 7, 2008Comments Off on The Dos and Don’ts of Outreach

Please don't give in to temptation. You can invite thousands of people to join your community in minutes, but don't do it.

This is the single, most critical part of your work. If you get it wrong, you've just repelled thousands of potential members. Probably for good. Every e-mail can spell the difference between a lifelong customer or a customer vigilante.

With that in mind, here is a good list of Dos and Don'ts in your outreach. Please forgive the torrid HTML.

Do.. Don't..
Personalise every e-mail with this information Mail-merge or copy/paste e-mails
Carefully select who, when and how to invite Invite everyone indiscriminately
Explain why you selected them Cluster people into general groups, e.g. "farmers"
Call members if you know them. Call numbers from a list
Treat the e-mail as the beginning of a conversation End the e-mail without a question or an opportunity for them to consider
Ask for their ideas to improve the community Fail to act on them, or celebrate those that suggested the idea
Offer something scarce or unique to every person Offer money
Offer to contact anyone else they know for them Demand they "send this to everyone in their inbox"
Ask if they might be interested in contributing a regular column/feature Offer this to people who are awful at writing
Name-drop people they know who have joined Throw numbers at them
Be as brief as possible Use anything from the marketing collateral
Have a list of bullet-points you need to cover Work from a template e-mail
Be informal Unless you're addressing formal groups
Try to strike an emotion or inflame an ambition Think everyone is motivated by the same things
Explain the dream/vision/purpose of the community Be dishonest. If the client wants something explain what
Leave recipients alone if they don't reply e-mail until you get a response
Understand outreach takes a lot of time. Full-time. Get the work experience kid to do it…in his own time
Remember to explain who you are, and what you do Pretend to be anything you're not.

Reaching out to people is a really delicate process. Don't try to bludgeon your way through it. It's not a process to be rushed, it's one to be enjoyed.

Plan who you're going to invite, what you're going to say and put in the time. The time you put in here will pay itself off many times over.

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