Continuing with my recent theme of The Beatles Teach Marketing, let’s have a look at a new song.
“And Your Bird Can Sing” was recorded in April of 1966, and like many Beatles songs appears not to have much of a history. John Lennon, its author, referred to it as “another of my throwaways…fancy paper around an empty box”.1 Still, it has some important lessons for marketers when we consider it to be written from a recipient’s viewpoint.
First up is the first stanza:
You tell me that you’ve got everything you want
And your bird can sing
But you don’t get me, you don’t get me
It seems that most marketers don’t truly get their target audiences. As I mentioned in my first post, “even today, we find many marketers are looking at email recipients ‘the same old way’ thinking that they are above their captive recipients, even though that’s no longer the case.”
The medium is different and your recipients expect you to know that, understand that, and most importantly, live that. Email is fundamentally different from paper communication in that things are much more immediate and much more measurable. With email (as well as with social media), your recipients expect to be part of a conversation, not treated like you had just handed them a sale flyer at the local Mega Mart.
I think that it is rather telling that getting images displayed at GMail is linked to this very idea. Part of Google’s requirements to display images by default is that the recipient has to have emailed you twice. That engagement is key to actually getting your recipients, not just showing that you might.
You say you’ve seen seven wonders
and your bird is green
But you can’t see me, you can’t see me
Your product might be “Best in Breed” and it may actually help people to “Leverage Their Synergies Going Forward by Enhancing Capacity Using Blue Sky Thinking That Creates a Paradigm Shift Leading to Incentivised, End-to-End, 24/7, Mission Critical, Robust, Value-added Deliverables” (does anyone have a bingo yet?), and a loaf of sliced bread, but if you aren’t engaging with your recipients, then you will find that your mail be blocked and/or filtered in such a way that it is never seen by the people you are trying to help.
When your prized possessions
Start to weigh you down
Look in my direction,
I’ll be round, I’ll be round
When your bird is broken will it bring you down
You may be awoken,
I’ll be round, I’ll be round
These two stanzas are the key to everything for the modern email marketer. Your possessions here are not really the products you are marketing, but rather your ideas and prejudices. As long as you allow them to weigh you down, then things will never work as well as you think they should.
You have to be willing to swallow your pride and break things down and figure out what works. In evangelical religious discussions, you may hear people discuss being “broken before God,” by which they usually mean that something happens that causes someone to swallow their pride and look in a new direction, and at the risk of sounding like I may advocate religious thought which I don’t, let me suggest that the same is needed by email marketers.
As long as you are content to continue doing the same things in the same ways, then you will continue to get the same results. But, when you find that your bird is broken and your own negative reputation is weighing you down then maybe you will start looking in new directions and trying new things. When you start listening to your subscribers instead of talking AT them, then the things that were weighing you down will be gone. Your campaigns will be more successful, not just because you are enjoying a better reputation, but because you are truly
You tell me that you’ve heard every sound there is
And your bird can swing
But you can’t hear me, you can’t hear me
“You can’t hear me” doesn’t denote a lack of ability to hear, but rather a lack of will to hear. This is a terrible thing because engagement and conversation mean that communication flows in both directions. That means really listening to your recipients. Not just allowing them to make comments in your direction that get summarily ignored, but actually hearing what they are trying to tell you and altering what you are doing as a result of that feedback.
I know that John Lennon didn’t intend this song to be a commentary on email marketing any more than Paul McCartney intended for “I’m Looking Through You” to be a commentary on email marketing. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t find something good in there to help things go more smoothly.
- David Sheff, All We Are Saying, p. 180 ↩