As I walked past the “Jimmy Mac Luncheonette” this morning on my way to the post office, I saw a chair positioned out front with a white board propped up on it. Handwritten on the board were these four words: “Cranberry Nut French Toast.”
No price, no “Today’s Breakfast Special” headline, no assurances that they were, “the leading provider of enterprise-wide french toast solutions for the food consuming public.” Just four simple words.
I kept walking, but all the way to the post office I couldn’t stop thinking about the Cranberry Nut French Toast. As I headed back to my office, I came upon Jimmy Mac’s again. This time, as if in a trance, I walked in and sat down at the counter. I didn’t need to see a menu, and when the waitress came over I knew just what I wanted.
A ham sandwich. I’m kidding! Of course I ordered the Cranberry Nut French Toast. And as I sat there eating my breakfast, I thought about what got me into the restaurant in the first place, and why I ordered that particular meal in the second place.
Consider these facts:
• The Cranberry Nut French Toast was not being offered at a reduced price that day.
• The entire Jimmy Mac menu is posted in a glass case outside the restaurant, and yet in all the times I’ve walked by I have never once stopped to look at it.
• I don’t even particularly like cranberries.
And yet I ordered the Cranberry Nut French Toast just as they had hoped.
I’m pretty sure the folks at Jimmy Mac’s Luncheonette don’t put out an E-Newsletter, but if their white board is any indication, I think they’d be pretty good at it. Two reasons:
• They kept it short. Nobody’s going to read an entire menu posted on the street, regardless of how well it’s written. Jimmy Mac’s offered just one item that day and it got my attention.
Many E-Newsletters on the other hand have 6–8 full length articles in them, each with their own links to more information. That’s asking a lot of email readers who (thanks to all the spam) tend to work from the position of, “What can I throw overboard today?” Overly long newsletters are good candidates for deletion.
Similarly, your newsletter should focus on just one main thought or message per issue. Trying to cover too many ideas (regardless of the quality of the information) can be overwhelming. If you want to draw readers in and be remembered, don’t offer so many choices.
• They offered something unusual. I’m pretty sure that a sign reading, “scrambled eggs,” would have had no impact on me. Cranberry Nut French Toast on the other hand was unusual enough that I was as interested in finding out what it was all about as I was in eating it.
By the same token, you should be looking for newsletter topics that are distinctive. If you simply cover the obvious stuff of your specialty (e.g. “Five Year End Tax Saving Tips;” “6 Ways To Conduct An Effective Job Interview,” etc.) you’ll do little to set yourself off from the pack. You don’t have to be controversial (although that does help), but you should pick topics that at least reveal something about your unique perspective on the work you do or the industry in which you do it.
Bottom Line: As you put your E-Newsletter together each month, take it from Jimmy Mac and me and stay mindful of your subscribers. They’re busy people who are looking for reasons to walk right by, and if you don’t give them a quick dose of something useful and unusual with each issue, they may do just that.