I may as well just come right out and admit it… I’m a country music fan.
Frankly, it just kind of snuck up on me. There I was, minding my own business, listening to Rock ‘N Roll and a little bit of oldies, when I started catching myself singing along with the occasional country song on the radio. Not a lot mind you, just a random song here and there.
Over time however, my country music habit got more serious. Eventually (I think it was about a year ago), I dedicated one of the six radio buttons in my car (button #5) to a local country station.
And while I have yet to purchase any country music CDs or (heaven forbid) attend a live country music concert, I have to say that there’s something about this music that I like. And that something, I’ve realized, has a lot to do with what makes for effective E-Newsletter content.
Here’s what I mean…
- Country music is easy to understand.
- Country music is upbeat.
- Country music is catchy and clever.
Not only are the stories fantastically simple, the words themselves are always (always) completely intelligible.
Unlike so many other music genres where you may not know the actual words to even your favorite songs (and even when you find out what they are, you still don’t have a clue as to what the author was trying to say), with country, the words and meaning are as clear as a summer’s night on a Tennessee peanut farm (or whatever).
By the same token, E-Newsletter content needs to be clear and simple. Your readers are in a hurry and prone to skimming, and this is not the place to impress people with your large vocabulary or Shakespearean writing style.
I know, I know, it’s got a reputation for being all about bad news, but I don’t really know why. Because while there are certainly plenty of sad songs, in general, I find country music to be incredibly optimistic and decidedly fun (How serious can you be with a big hat on?), something which again sets it apart from most of what you’re likely to find on the radio.
One thing I notice with a lot of E-Newsletters is that they’re alarmingly negative. It’s fine to disagree with something – and if you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while you know my belief in the importance of taking a strong position – but try to avoid making complaints and criticism the basis from which you write.
Remember that when your E-Newsletter arrives, you’re asking people to stop what they’re doing and take a few minutes to read what you’ve got to say. Personally, I think you’ve got a better chance at achieving this if your E-Newsletter is thought of as “something which brightens my day,” as opposed to “something which rekindles my interest in committing suicide.”
With song titles that are more often than not a play on words (e.g. “All My Ex’es Live in Texas,” “She’s Actin’ Single, I’m Drinkin’ Doubles” and my personal favorite, “When Your Phone Don’t Ring It Will Be Me Who Ain’t Calling You Still”), and lyrics that often seem like they were written just because they’re fun to sing along with (e.g. “Could ya would ya ain’t ya gonna if I asked you would ya wanna be my baby tonight”), the people who write this stuff pay close attention to how the words fit together.
Here too, and beyond the useful content that must necessarily be at the heart of any business communication, you’ve got to remember that your readers are dying of boredom. They’re forced to wade through piles of mundane junk every single work day just to get to the information they need, and if you can lift them out of that with some foot tapping, boot stompin’, gotta-show-this-to-somebody-else wit, you’ll have a winner on your hands.
Bottom Line: You don’t have to like country music to appreciate why it’s so popular. Just make your newsletter equally easy, optimistic and catchy, and you’ll never want for readers. Yee-hah.