Recently, the word “engineer” came up while I was driving in the car with my 5-year-old son.

I asked him what an engineer is and from the rear view mirror I could see him thinking for a second. Then he said confidently: “An engineer fixes problems that need to be solved.”

Wow, I thought, that was pretty good. “So,” I asked “do you think you would ever be an engineer?

“Well, Mommy, I have been already!” he exclaimed. Confused at what my 5 year old was getting up to while I was at work, I asked him what he meant.

He replied “At the science museum Daddy and I had to design a scooper to pick up as many crocodiles as we could, and we had to keep changing it, but then we got 4 crocodiles…and they gave me a magnet!”

There he was, in his own way, explaining how you need to sometimes make changes to strategy to get the desired result.

I decided to push the conversation a bit further.

My son knows I work at Constant Contact, but I was pretty sure he thought I sat on a computer all day with occasional breaks for skeeball competitions (which do go on here).

I figured this could be my chance to share a bit more about the company I work for and the tools we use to help our customers solve problems.

“Do you know what email marketing is?” I asked.

“…Not really,” he replied.

I asked him about his favorite restaurant, In a Pickle, and whether he would like to know every time they had a new waffle on the menu. (He loves their waffles).

“Yes!” he exclaimed. I asked him how he thought the restaurant could let him know.

“Well,” he said, they could call me, or they could email you or daddy.”

Then I saw him start to think more about it.  After a short pause he asked, “So, could like, a library use this too?”

“A library could tell people when they are selling old books, right?” I said.

He stopped me right there. “But Mommy, I wouldn’t find that interesting. Daddy might, but nope, not me.”

He seemed to relax after I explained to him that libraries would have to ask for permission before adding him to a mailing list.

“What if the toy store let you know every time there was a new Captain America toy, or there was a chance to go play with the latest Power Rangers guns?” I asked.

This time he did an actual happy dance in the back seat. “That, I would love!” he said.

I told him we could ask to sign up for the toy store’s email list, next time we pay them a visit.

“So Mommy, your emails make it easier for people to tell other people about things they want to know about … like, how I want to know about new toys?  I think that’s great because I always want to know about new toys.”

And that was it. My 5-year-old grasping the concept not just of what the company I am a part of does every day for over 600,000 small businesses around the globe, but also why we do it.

It’s all about the connection, and all about the win/win.

Hearing it from my 5-year-old reminded me how simple good business can be:

  • Identify the need
  • Engage with the right people
  • Create a win / win opportunity

And at its core, that’s what good email marketing does. When you find a way to share things that your customers want to hear about, they are engaged, excited, and willing to take action.

Think about your email list. Is it full of people who are truly excited to hear what you have to say? Or do you have a bunch of reluctant 5-year-olds not wanting to hear about a used book sale?

The quality of your list, the willingness of people to engage, the authenticity of the relationship — these are the things that make your campaigns successful.

And if you’re hitting any speedbumps along the way, we’re here to answer questions and provide resources to help you overcome your marketing challenges.

As for my five year old, with email marketing covered, I’m thinking next week we’ll see how he does with tackling the global economy…

We want to hear your email marketing questions! Post them in the comments below.