Have you read the Slate’s latest article on podcasting? If you haven’t, check it out. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Slate doubles down on podcasts

Done? Good.

Now, here’s a problem…

Why did the Slate’s podcasts do so well when the Times and the Boston Globe flopped?

It’s the same reason that people don’t read your e-mails, or your letters. Or, come to that, any of your advertising.

Sorry to put this so harshly…

But they just don’t want to listen to you.

And this doesn’t just apply to the people who pound their lists with ad after ad.

If your e-mails are full of useful content, but also about as engaging as old bathwater, you’re not going to get much response.

You’ve got to get people engaged. You’ve got to get people excited. You’ve got to get them listening.

If your customer actively listens to what you have to say, they will listen to EVERYTHING you have to say. Including the advert you drop into the middle of your chat.

That’s why when you e-mail your customer list, sending them ad after ad is short term thinking. You need to build up a relationship. That means be interesting. Have opinions. Crack a couple of jokes. Be human.

Listen to the Slate and it’s like listening to a radio show – you enjoy it. You agree with the presenter. You’ve got a relationship with them. The Boston Globe put out a staid news broadcast, and while you might listen to it to get the information you’re not going to form a relationship with a newsreader – they’re just not engaging enough.

You’ll turn a few people off. That’s fine. Because the ones you keep will be far more responsive.

The Vorlons had the right idea. (Remember Babylon 5? Storytelling on truly epic scale. Still not as good as Firefly.)

Their signature question to all the characters was: Who are you?

So try asking that question yourself: who are you to your customers, and who do you want to be?