How promotional is too promotional?

| 7-min read Stay updated

Episode #465 of the Marketing Mentor Podcast is another experiment...

It’s a short solo episode in which I share what I learned when I asked for feedback on my Quick Tips email newsletter, which prompted me to reflect on the question: how promotional is too promotional? 

Here's the "baby step" you can take to begin to answer this question for yourself:

Ask for feedback

You can do it one on one from people whose perspectives you respect and value. Or you can do it as a poll on LinkedIn or in your own newsletter – you do  have one, right?

It’s one of the most effective content marketing tools around. And one of the three I highlight in the Simplest Marketing Plan for 2023, which it’s not too late to get. (Is that too promotional?) 

And if you're afraid to ask for feedback, read this guest post, "3 Reasons Not to Freak Out About Feedback"  

So listen here (and below) and learn:

If you like what you hear, we’d love it if you write a review, subscribe here and sign up for Quick Tips from Marketing Mentor.


Read the transcript here

Today’s episode is another experiment – it’s a short solo episode in which I share what I learned this week when I asked for feedback on my Quick Tips email newsletter, which prompted me to reflect on the question: how promotional is too promotional? So listen and learn. 

So here's an experiment. I'm doing something new this week. And one of the things I want to share is what I learned this week, because at the end of my podcast intro, I always say, so listen and learn, which means you're going to learn something, I hope. 

But I'm going to turn the tables a little bit today and share what I have learned this week. Because we tried something new, another something new -- I'm always experimenting. It was on my quick tip from marketing mentor, and if you don't get that, I highly recommend it.

It's my email newsletter at marketing dash mentor (Is that too promotional?)

Anyway, that's when I share all my new ideas, including this podcast. And we asked for feedback about that particular issue, and we got some and it was actually the second time that we had asked for feedback.

The first time we got very little, and I think it had to do with the placement of the request, it was too far down. And so placement matters.

This time we moved it a little bit, but I also gave a little heads up in the very first line of my newsletter saying, "I'm asking for your feedback, please share it below if you can." I said that at the beginning and then got right into the tip.

So we did get actually 20 people or so sharing their feedback and it was all very helpful and most of it was very positive which is always good. But a few, not so much. And one of the things I've learned over the years is that if something stings a little, it's probably true. And that stung.

Some of the feedback basically said it's too promotional. And I kind of agree/

Here's the thing about getting feedback.

Of course, we all love a compliment. It makes us feel good. It reinforces that we're doing something well and that people are appreciating it. But I really do think that compliments have a limited value. I like to focus on what I need to improve to make things better. That to me is one of the keys to success. That's where my focus is.

So even though those couple of comments stung a little bit and are true, I focused on them, and I spent some time thinking about them. And the main point really for both of them was that the quick tip is too promotional. And that's a really very interesting question.

How promotional is too promotional?

Of course, it depends on many factors. It depends on the context. It depends on the reader's expectation. It depends on one's history over time. It depends on the actual timing of the message, whatever it is -- many, many factors.

But I do think it's an important question to be asking for someone like me and perhaps someone like you.

And I think it's important to play a little with how promotional to be. I'm walking a very fine line because I want to provide value. My quick tip is my email newsletter. I've been sending it out for at least 20 years. It started originally actually as a paper newsletter that I would bulk mail to people. And it has obviously evolved since then. And it is free and because it's free, I think the expectation is yes, I'm also using it to promote my products and my services.

But I'm also using it to practice what I preach, which is to use generosity as a marketing tool.

So I do like to give away a lot of information and tips -- hence the name Quick Tips -- and to share what I've learned like I'm doing here on the podcast.

But I also want to make sure you know that, if you need it, that there's more help available. And I think whoever you are, if you're promoting something, that's a nice balance to try to find -- giving value but also making sure people know that there's more if they want it and when they want it.

One of the comments actually referenced the 80/20 rule, which, as I understand it, means that you should have 80% fresh content or non promotional content and 10 to 20% promotional. That is a good guideline to follow, although I'm not sure I would use it as a rule. I don't like rules, but certainly it's a good guideline.

You could you could think about that in a couple of different ways. You could say 80% of my messages are fresh content and 20% are promotional. Or you could say that within each message. 80% is going to be content of value and 20% is promotional -- which also has value by the way for certain people.

What that means is value is in the eye of the beholder. For example, one of the people who responded said it's a little annoying to see promotions for things they had already bought. It's good that they bought it but then they see anything else that references that thing as promotional. So of course I understand that this person would perceive less value.

But another person who is really looking for help in that moment -- and again, because timing is everything when it comes to marketing. -- even the promotional parts would provide and be perceived as valuable because they are helpful.

That is the goal -- to offer something that is helpful, even when people have to pay for it. In fact, especially if people have to pay for it. I do think people value something more when they pay for it.

Finally, I think my main point is that every one is different. And every situation is different. And so I have to find the perfect or imperfect ratio of promotional to non-promotional -- and so do you.

But one of the things I've learned this week from this experiment of asking for feedback, which I will continue to do so please share it If you get my quick tips and if you if you don't I hope you will subscribe at marketing dash mentor (Is that to promotional? I don't know. I want you to know it's there. if you want it, you don't have to. I'm not forcing you.)

But, that said, I will continue to provide as much value as possible, while also promoting what I have to offer. So I hope that's helpful. And I'll be back soon.

Anyway, if you want more from me, make sure you’re signed up for my Quick Tips, which come out every other week. That’s one of my own content marketing tools and I’ve been doing it since before we called it content marketing – because it works. My Quick Tips email newsletter not only keeps me top of mind but also removes your burden. You don’t have to remember I’m out here because I’ll keep reminding you -- so that when you’re ready for help, I’m in your inbox! And you can do that for your clients and prospects too. 

So if you want to build a thriving business on your own terms, the first step is to sign up for my Quick Tips at Once you’re on the site, you’ll find lots more free resources. Enjoy and I’ll see you next time.

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