The Penguin And The Hare

My father runs six miles a day, six or seven days a week. As amazing as that is for an 81 year old man, what I find most impressive about my dad’s running regimen is that he’s been doing it now for nearly 30 years.

In the rain, the snow, or the heat; whether getting up at 4:45 in the morning to run before work when he had a full time job, or “sleeping in” until 5:30 now that he’s retired; he’s been out there running nearly every day since Nixon was in the White House.

There are a lot of similarities between an effective exercise program and an effective E-Newsletter, and one of them has to do with consistency. In both cases, there’s a cost to getting off schedule.

• First of all, like exercise, publishing your newsletter will never be today’s top priority. As a result, if you put yourself in the position of having to weigh the value of writing it today vs. taking care of some other important opportunity or problem of the moment, your newsletter will rarely win.

My father doesn’t wake up each morning and consider whether or not he wants to run that day. He made one decision long ago, and three decades later he’s simply following the schedule.

Similarly, the reason I’m sitting in my office at 9:15 on a Thursday night writing this isn’t because I like working late. It’s because I’m hiding until my wife has taken care of putting the kids to bed. No, I’m kidding, it’s because I know that if I stick to my “every other Friday” publication schedule, the marketing of my business will take care of itself.

• The second similarity between exercise and newsletter publishing is that in both cases, no single event has very much value. Running six miles once won’t get you in shape, and publishing one newsletter won’t bring you any business.

But, string together six miles a day, six days a week, 52 weeks a year for 30 years (roughly the equivalent of 6 round trips between New York and Bangkok, minus the frequent flyer miles), and it starts to add up.

Like exercise, relationship building is organic. You can’t speed it up and you can’t take a short cut — but if you’re systematic and give it some time, it’s magical.

So here are my recommendations regarding your company E-Newsletter:

• If you’re still out there talking about how, “we know it’s important but we haven’t had the time,” either stop talking about it or give birth to it.

• If you’ve already launched it, decide on a publication schedule and stick to it for one year, no matter what. Then evaluate its benefit.

Don’t make me send my dad over there.

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