Last week we talked about the futility of sending out self-serving newsletters that completely ignore the recipients’ interests and needs (you can read it HERE). Francisco Gonzalez summed it up by quoting his mentor who used to say, “This is clearly a case of suppository marketing, because it only pleases the person administering it.” Damn!! I wish I had that eloquent economy of language.
Besides being stuffed full of self-serving blather, there’s another common attribute that most newsletters share that also reduces or eliminates readership — their inherent newsletter-ness.
Let me explain:
I used to receive a monthly newsletter from a friend of mine. Because I was interested in what she was doing, and because she was my friend, I was always eager to read what she sent out. So each month I’d open my email to find her newsletter waiting there all fresh and hopeful.
It was what you would expect — a good-looking page layout with a masthead, headlines, three or four articles, and even a video box with an inviting “Play” arrow smack dab in the middle.
It was handsome, it was attractive, and it was carefully crafted.
It scared the hell out of me.
I mean, who has the time to read all that stuff? Especially right freaking now, when I’m so busy doing something else.
So I did what I think you would do, too. I clicked the email shut with the promise that “I’d get to it later.”
Then, over the next week or two, I’d see the newsletter sitting forlornly in my email box and remind myself that I needed to get around to reading it already.
But then a month would pass by and her next newsletter would appear. So I’d go through the whole guilty avoidance dance all over again, dragging the older newsletter into the trash and promising that this time I really would read the new one.
Finally I got up the nerve to do something about my guilty secret. I confessed my crimes to my friend and made a recommendation that I thought would increase her readership. Instead of sending such elaborate and content-laden mailings, I suggested, what would happen if she sent out a single article at a time? And what if, instead of sending them monthly, she sent out the single articles once a week?
After some arguing, my friend agreed to try the new schedule and format. And guess what? Her readership went way up. More people opened her newly slimmed down mailings and more people responded to them. Plus, she found that once her newsletter was shorter, more people forwarded them to others so her distribution list grew as well.
The fact that the mailings were now easier to produce and distribute was an extra bonus that helped her get excited about the project all over again. And the new format substantially reduced the pressure she had felt about sending out a four-page newsletter month after month.
But most importantly, by increasing her readership, simplifying her newsletters made the program all the more valuable to her business. Which proved once again that less is more (and also proves how we make our clients’ brands and businesses more valuable).