What are your 3 words for 2022?


What are your 3 words for 2022?

Welcome to 2022! I hope this is the year we crawl out of our collective hole, but I usually feel like I’m still the kid in the back seat asking my parents, “Are we there yet?”

I'm excited to produce one of the first posts on Only Influencers this year. This time, I'm breaking my own tradition because I'm stealing someone else's idea. But it's a good idea to steal: Chris Brogan's annual "Three Words" post.

His three words – each of which sums up your three challenges or goals for the year – followed me around for a week while I tried to discern what my own three words would be.

These are the words that will guide your year and define who you want to be. Post them where everyone can see them. Revisit them throughout the year. Evaluate them at the end of the year and see how you did.

My 3 words for 2022

These words sum up what I will be working on, but they also reflect three ways that we can collectively move email forward.

 1. Respect

Respect the channel. It's important that all of us respect email as a channel more than we ever have. This begins by changing our practices to make room for innovation and sophistication in how we use email marketing throughout our companies. We can't be trapped by the old "We've always done it this way" thinking.

Push your program to do something new every quarter at a minimum. Be more than the lackey who just pushes buttons. Be the intelligent marketer we all strive to be.

Respect yourself. Many of our challenges happen because email and digital marketers aren't great at bragging about who they are and all the great things they have done. Yes, email gained new popularity during COVID, but we need to drive that popularity into this new year.

Respect the customer. During COVID we showed that respect by being authentic in our conversations and considering what our customers were going through. But all too quickly, some brands abandoned it for the same old hard-sell tactics.

Putting our customers first is not a buzzword. It's something to implement in substantial ways. This plays into my assertion that we have to develop strategy before we come up with tactics. One key strategic question is "Why should our customer care about us?" We show respect for our customer when we can answer that question honestly.

 2. Yoda

I can hear you now: "Ryan, did you drink too many mimosas on your vacation? Have you lost your mind?" The answers, in order, are "Yes, I did" and “No, I never joke about Yoda and what he can teach us.”

Remember what Yoda said: "Do or do not. There is no try."

That doesn't mean you shouldn't attempt something new. It means not giving up if an experiment falls flat.

When I wrote about respect in the previous section, I mentioned pushing your email program to do something new every quarter. It means doing something we learned about at a conference or in a webinar. It's something our data tells us to do, having the experience of doing something.

It means making more than a feeble stab and giving up if we fail. Not letting ourselves drown in communication requests or deferring change because we don't have the time to do it. You have to make the time. You won't find it.

If you fail, congratulations! It means you did something. You didn't just talk it to death. Fail fast, then start over. I've had three times as many failures as successes. But each one taught me how to move forward to reach the winning side of my strategy.

 3. Praise

Praise your customers. In email we often focus on the channel's promotional power. This item is on sale, this special rate is expiring, that event is coming up. When we overuse it, we devalue our relationships with our customers.

This mindset of praise cascades in different ways. If you respect your customers, you thank them for their macro and micro conversion events. Incorporate your authenticity into your messages. Recognize your loyal customers and praise them for staying with you.

Praise your team. It's so important to get your team members together regularly so you can thank them for their work.

In my last team meeting before we broke for the holidays in 2021, I thanked each member for everything we achieved in 2021. In about ("checks watch") 20 minutes I'll be meeting them again for the first time in 2022, and I will be thanking them again before talking about what we'll be working on this year.

When you praise your co-workers, make it authentic. Incorporate regular thanks into your meeting schedule. Send notes to team members in the moment.

This immediate, specific praise goes a long way, whether it's in a post-It note, a Slack message or a public call-out in your daily stand-up meeting or call. Making regular efforts to recognize my teams' greatness has always been a key component of my management career.

Praise yourself. That's how we gain importance for the channel and within the company. Take pride in what you do and talk about it in discussion lists like Only Influencers and LinkedIn. If your budget or company policy prevent you from speaking at conferences or on webinars, put up a post that says "Here's what I did and here's how it succeeded."

Praise the channel. You are an email marketer. Be proud of that. Stay in this profession for a while. Too many of us move on after a few years. Stick around for a while and give yourself a chance to achieve greatness.

I have been in email for 20+ years and I have loved every moment of it. Email has great opportunities and advantages for those of us who stay in. We could use more people to stick around and keep driving the conversation forward.

But if you do move on, show respect for the people on your team and the customers you leave behind. Document everything you accomplished and how you did it.

Wrapping up

I didn't write a predictions column this year because I don't have a clue how things will go. Nobody does. "Buckle up and hang on" is not a prediction!

I hope my three words help you define your goals for 2022. But don't copy mine. They won't reflect what your email program, or your personal development, needs to have a successful year.

As you come up with your words, don't just write words down and go on your way. Think about what your mission statement for each word should be.

Thanks to Chris Brogan for his three-word goal structure! (Read his 2022 column here.) It helped me kick off the new year, and I hope it helps you, too. I'm looking forward to seeing you during the course of the year as we (hopefully) return to conferences like the Email Innovations Summit and other in-person events. If I see you, I'll buy the first round.

stephanie klepacki GEIqN Aon Q unsplash 600Photo by Stephanie Klepacki on Unsplash