The Key to Powerful E-mail Marketing: “The Lawnmower Kid”

Hey there,

I’ve written a story for you about a kid, his lawn mowing business, and his neighbor.

…But it’s not just any story.

See, hidden inside is one of the most powerful lessons for e-mail marketing lessons that I was ever taught. Now, I could just come out and explain it – but with a story I can show you this concept in action, and help you understand it even greater.

So without further ado…

Lawn-Mower Kid (By: David Tendrich ;))

In a small suburban neighborhood, in a small city of the good ole U.S. of A there was a boy who mowed lawns in the summer.

He would mow 5 yards a week at $20 each. For an 11 year old – that was pretty good mulah. But something in him always wanted to do better.

One day, his neighbor approached him…

“Did you know…” the man said, “That if you do this one little thing – you’ll get twice as many paying customers this week.”

Well, the kid was all ears, as you can imagine. And he didn’t blink once as the man talked to him. He just stood there, eyes wide as full moons, taking it all in.

The kid tried out the tactic that the man taught him…

And got 3 new paying customers that week.

Now, that’s not quite double the amount he started with, 5, but it was darn close enough. It was a failure the kid could live with.

He felt on top of the world.

Until, a week later, the man came back…

“Mister! Mister! It worked! It worked!” the boy beamed.

“I’m so happy to hear that, kid. But you know, the best part is that you took action on the ideas. Otherwise it’s just talking and jibber jabber.”

The kid smiled.

“Say, how about I teach you something else this week? This time you could triple the number of houses you mow.”

So the boy listened. And he acted on what he heard. And in one week’s time not only did he have 24 houses…

…He was paying another kid to mow them for him!

The boy was making money while sipping on lemonade all day!

"Yeah... Lemonade..."

And then the man came back.

“Mister! You wouldn’t believe it! I have 24 houses – and a friend of mine mows them all! That idea you gave me worked so great!”

The man smiled.

“I’m so glad to hear that,” he said, “Say… I happened to see one of the houses your friend mowed, and he did a mighty fine job… How much do you charge? I’d like to hire your services to mow my yard.”

The boy arched an eyebrow, “Mister – your money is no good here. You’re the reason I have as many houses as I do – and why I’m not doing a single ounce of work to collect the money from them. I’ll pay my friend to mow your house for the whole rest of the summer. Thank you for all you’ve taught me.”

The man smiled, tipped his hat to the boy, and went on his way.

So… Did you catch the single most important secret of successful internet marketing?

Wanna go back and look again? Or do you think you got it?

I can boil it down for you in 4 little words…

Giving. Leads. To. Getting.

It’s as simple as that.

The man gave something of great value to the boy. In fact, he did it twice. And when the man asked for something – the boy jumped to his aid.

He thankfully jumped to his aid.

Think of the last time someone did something really nice for you. Didn’t you want to appreciate them back by doing something for them?

Like when a stranger opens a restaurant door for you – don’t you want to do something in return?

Or when a friend gets you an awesome gift for your birthday – don’t you just want to one-up them and get them something even better?

That force that makes you want to give back has been called the “Law of Reciprocity.”

The Cycle of Reciprocation

It works in e-mail marketing too…

The key to successful e-mail marketing is to constantly provide awesome, free content to your subscribers. What happens is they get that same, “Wow – I wanna do something in return” feeling building up in them.

Keep providing it until their “law of reciprocity gauge” hits overload.

Then you pitch them your product or services and out of the desire to give back, and out of trust for you because you always come through with the content…

They start buying from you like crazy!

But the key is in the value, and in the desire to really help.

If you don’t genuinely care – then this all kinda falls apart – because people can see right through it.

So keep providing value.

Often when I talk about this, someone will ask me how much value can you provide before offering someone the chance to buy your product.

While there’s no “set in stone” rule for this, until you get the feel of it you can follow this simple plan:

Something Free –> Something else Free –> A bonus –> A product

That’s the gist of it. Just make sure the “free” stuff is GOOD.

A lot of people don’t provide as much free stuff in between pitches – but I like to really provide people with great value before I ask them for a sale.

I want them to have no doubt in their mind that my product is extremely effective – because they see how effective my free content is.

Now, I do have one rule of thumb that I suggest you follow…

I only provide content that I feel is worthy of being paid for.

Rule of "Thumb" ...haha

For instance, I only provide the quality of content that I would to my private coaching clients.

You can stand out really easily if you do that – because 99% of internet marketers give away junk.

Which gives you a golden opportunity to be the Hero of Your Niche!

Give away for free what people would gladly pay for. They’ll really appreciate you – and want to return the favor.

So what’s your take on all of this?

How do you personally view the law of reciprocity, and how to use it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Feel free to share in a comment.


16 Replies to “The Key to Powerful E-mail Marketing: “The Lawnmower Kid””

  1. Great story. I totally agree. Reading the story I wanted to know what tips the man gave the boy – LOL…(so what are those tips? 😉 ).

    It’s hard to be nice to people if you don’t really care…it does come off as fake – I think we’ve all ran across that many many times.

    Let me ask you this – how can you really be super caring and genuine if you’re in a niche just for the sake of marketing a product to them, as opposed to building relationships?


    1. Hey Clint,

      Yeah dude… About 99% of cashiers are like that lol…

      Anyway, about your question…

      I think I should’ve qualified what KIND of list I was talking about – because there are a few different kinds.

      One kind is like what I have here – where you want to build a relationship with your subscribers and really get to know them. This really applies to that kind.

      The other kind is where you just provide information, and pitch products in between. These are the “set it and forget it” lists that people build, and set up an autoresponder series for a year or longer that has content and affiliate pitches built into it.

      Even with content-based lists (the second kind) – you can still be super caring and genuine.

      Because when you think about it… No matter what the niche is – that person joined because they have a problem.

      So you can genuinely care about helping a person solve a problem – even if you’re not passionate about the subject that they’re looking for info on.

      Make sense?

      Hope this answers your question man! Thanks for posting it 😉


  2. Thanks for the awesome tips man. It feels good to make people feel good. What kind of things do you (or other people on here who already do this) recommend giving away for free to show appreciation?

    1. Hey Jared,

      The things you give away can be anything, really. They can also be things you already do for free but are valuable. Some examples of what we give away are e-books, audios, videos, etc. Really any kind of thing that you would feel really good getting yourself if someone gave them to you. The content in these give aways should really be “meaty” content…the stuff people pay money to learn. The way you find out what that is is by getting in touch with your target market, finding out what problem they have, and creating a free product that solves that problem.

      What kind of business are you in?

  3. Hey!

    I liked your story a lot. I was expecting a different ending so you caught me off guard there. Maybe that’s because I never read post titles in blogs but just start reading without knowing what I’m reading about :-).

    What you wrote about works great for email marketing, but also with interpersonal relationships, like you said. I think when you have a genuine interest in human beings, and how they behave, and operate, and when you want to meet more people who are friendly and caring, you’ll just naturally act in a way that’s open and inviting…Like I know when we go out to eat we introduce ourselves to the waiters and we ask how they’re doing a lot…even if you’re not comfortable doing that, I think the more stuff like that you do the more open you become and the more you attract people like that into your life.

    I really think the law of reciprocity only works when you give just to give, without expecting anything in return.

    1. Hey,

      I think you really hit the nail on the head when you said…

      “I really think the law of reciprocity only works when you give just to give, without expecting anything in return.”

      I can think of a handful of people who list every favor they’ve ever done for me before asking me for something…

      The thing is, it’s so obvious what they’re doing – and it makes me feel like they did me those “favors” just to have some kind of leverage over me.

      The way I feel… If you’re gonna do something nice for someone – just do it! And never throw it back at them.

      Just my 2 cents 🙂


  4. Great principal. Have you heard of the book the go giver? It’s really in line with what you’re talking about.

  5. hey David!
    It’s A great Story And It can apply in our Daily Life…but it’s a gr8 story for learning marketing tips:)

    I gOt ur Points yeah First tym we have to give free for getting our Customers and make them comfortable.

    1. Hey,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

      And yeah – I totally agree. I apply this to my daily life all the time. It really surprises people some times when you’re just genuinely nice to them.

  6. David,

    Hey there. Great article.

    We all know about reciprocity, but very seldom do we
    actually do anything with it. I tell my clients to do it, then the other day, I come up with this long email, telling them I’ll send them personalized postcards and a newsletter and all they have to do is send me $147 a month.

    Problem is one doctor writes back in an email and says, “Hey, lose my email address.” WHAM! That gets me to thinking.

    I am asking them to pay me money, way before GIVING.


    I forgot, what I know works.

    Thanks to a great marketer like you… I pulled the email, and I’m working on giving them 12 content ridden, high-impact, newsletters and articles that will be worth buying, but I’m giving them for FREE.

    All because of YOU!

    I am going to work on the relationship first, then worry about making the money
    in the backend… IF they decide I’m there go-to-guy.

    I have to tell you though, your stuff is as good as anyone’s. Don’t you ever forget that either David.

    It’s fun being a copywriter, and a marketer because all you have to do is write the way you talk and think the way you want to communicate and always have the other person’s best interest at heart, and you’re going to be successful.

    Great to know you and tell your brother, the Master Marketer – I’ll be getting in contact with him.

    Your the best.

    Keep up the good work David.

    Dr. Carney

    1. Hey Doc…

      I know I need a good kick in the butt too sometimes 😉

      Getting that e-mail sounds like it did the trick.

      …I couldn’t agree more about what you said about building the relationship FIRST and then worrying about making sales.

      The cool thing is… I’m sure you’ll provide them such great content that there’ll be no way you won’t become their go-to guy.

      Best of luck with your “remembered” approach 🙂

      Keep me updated.

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