Just Do It!

“Don’t worry, be crappy”

— Guy Kawasaki
Rules for Revolutionaries

I had a meeting with a prospective client last week on the subject of developing an electronic newsletter for his company.

Although he was completely sold on the value of incorporating an enewsletter into his marketing mix, I realized as we spoke that he was starting to get overwhelmed by the complexity of what was involved:

Defining the audience; finding an appropriate tone; developing topics; collecting email addresses; whether to send HTML or plain text; measuring success; dealing with privacy issues, tying it back to the company web site, etc. There are a lot of decisions to be made and parts that have to fit together, and he was concerned that it would take months to get everything figured out.

I was happy to give him the good news: In an electronic world, trial and error wins out over perfection.

In fact, my rule of thumb is that we launch when everything is about 80% right.

Here’s why:

• There are a lot of moving parts to an enewsletter. There are “send us feedback” buttons; “subscribe to this newsletter” buttons; links to web pages; and various formatting issues that come into play depending on the computer configuration of each individual subscriber. There are too many variables to figure everything out up front, and it’s more productive to set it up, try it out, and make changes as you go.

• There’s always next month. Even the most aggressive senders of printed company newsletters rarely publish more often than quarterly — it’s just too expensive. When the semiannual or annual issue comes out therefore, it’s a big event, and any errors made are around for a long time. With a more frequently published electronic newsletter however, the next, better issue is never more than a month away. It begins to feel more like a process than a “thing” that is built and shipped.

• “Electronic Forgiveness” is still very high. We’ve all been conditioned to expect perfection in the printed world. Books, brochures, printed newsletters, etc. are “supposed” to be perfect, and the company that sends out one of these with a typo is potentially doing more harm than good. Online however, we run into problems every day. Formatting glitches, links that don’t work, screens that lock up, documents that won’t open, etc. Online, there is much more emphasis on what you’ve got to say, than on how you look (my kind of world).

Bottom Line: Don’t wait for perfection. Launch your newsletter today, and get to work on improving it with every issue!

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