I had lunch a few weeks ago with an old friend from high school. The last time I saw Nancy was 11 years ago, when she was standing in the receiving line of my wedding. It was great to see her again, and despite the time gap, we had no problem catching up on the big stuff — marriage, kids, careers, etc. When it came time to have a real conversation however, there wasn’t all that much to talk about.
The fact is, it’s hard to have a real, personal relationship with somebody who you only talk to once a decade. Which brings us (more or less) to this week’s topic:
How often should an electronic newsletter be published?
I have little trouble convincing my clients of the wisdom in sending an electronic newsletter to their customers and potential customers (see Trash The Holiday Cards! for more thoughts on this). It benefits the reader by providing useful information; it positions the company as an expert in its field; and — most importantly — it sustains and builds an ongoing relationship.
What they don’t like however, is my insistence that they publish the newsletter at least once each month.
Look at it this way: If you buy into the idea that relationship building is the reason for doing these things in the first place, then you have to give frequency its due. It’s my belief that in this medium (the Internet), with this vehicle (the e-newsletter), you’ve got to be in front of your audience a minimum of 12 times each year to have any impact. Anything less than that and you’re not in a relationship; you’re simply sending an update and sharing news (remember the Nancy story).
I know how hard it can be to sit down and write, but I’m happy to say that there is good news. I promise you that the more frequently you write, the easier it will be to think of something meaningful to say (Huh?!).
You heard me. Ask any professional writer and they will tell you that one of the keys to having something to say and for the words to flow, is to write regularly and frequently. Like exercise, the more you do it, the easier it gets.
One last tip: Pick a publication schedule and stick to it religiously. When you’re on a schedule, your audience begins to sense a rhythm. Not only does that make it easier for them to connect with you, but they will begin to anticipate — and therefore, pay attention to — your newsletter. There’s a reason that the Boston Globe doesn’t come out “approximately every day.”
And finally, believe it or not, having a firm schedule will eliminate the feeling that your next newsletter is always hanging over your head waiting to be written. When it’s regularly scheduled, it just becomes a regular part of your work and the mental pain of continually putting it off goes away. Honest.