Slip Sliding Away

I went out running the other day, the morning after a pretty good snowfall. The streets had been plowed overnight, and had I been driving, I’m sure I would have described the roads as “clean.”

Running however, it was a completely different story. Although most of the snow had been removed, there remained a thin layer on top of the pavement (readers from tropical climates, try and stay with me). And so with each step I took, my foot slipped back just a bit. Not a lot, maybe a quarter of an inch or so.

A quarter of an inch doesn’t seem like very much, until you consider how many steps are taken in 30 minutes of running. By the time I made it back home, not only was I more tired than usual, but my “half hour” run had taken me about 40 minutes.

Today’s newsletter is devoted to the little things. The “quarter inch” factors that go into each issue, and that taken by themselves month by month, don’t matter all that much. Strung together over time however, they make a big difference in whether or not you get the kind of traction you’re looking for.

Here then are 5 admittedly small suggestions for long term E-Newsletter success:

• “Sign” Each Newsletter. Remember, your newsletter is an opportunity to reveal the human side of your organization. Rather than just starting right in with the content itself, take some time to say hello and make a personal connection. Complete the introduction by signing your name, reinforcing the idea that this is more than just an exchange of factual information.

• Respond Quickly To Feedback. Whether a comment, suggestion or even a request for removal, the faster you can respond to input from readers, the more of it you’ll get in the future. I do my best to schedule my time so that I’m in my office on the day my newsletter hits, ready and waiting to interact with anybody who makes the effort to click the “reply” button (go ahead, try me).

• Put A Copyright Notice In Your Newsletter. A copyright notice (e.g. Copyright © 2003, Blue Penguin Development) accomplishes two things:

First, it warns people not to steal your thoughts. The Internet still has a frontier mentality, and people who would never steal things in the offline world can sometimes forget themselves and reuse content without permission (a couple of years ago I discovered that one of my newsletters was used — almost word for word — as the ad copy in an email marketing piece from a company I had never heard of).

Second, a copyright notice says, “this is valuable information and I’m an expert.” It reinforces the significance of what you’re doing in the minds of readers who assume that, “if it’s copyrighted, it must be valuable.”

• Include Your Complete Contact Information In Every Issue. The arrival of your newsletter in the email box of a potential client at just the right time may prompt a phone call with questions about your services. Make sure therefore that when the urge hits, your reader has no problem figuring out how to get a hold of you! Include your email, web site, mailing address and (most importantly) phone number in every issue.

• Make It Appallingly Easy To Get Off Your Mailing List. I know, only a fool would conclude that a life without your words of wisdom is worth living, but it does happen. Ironically, one of the best ways to keep people on your list is to make it clear that they can leave at any time, and putting road blocks in their way never works to your advantage.

Bottom Line. There are few big bangs in E-Newsletters; nothing you do or say in any given issue is likely to move the needle very much. Frankly, that’s what I like about them. Like snowflakes, they don’t amount to a whole lot one at a time, but taken together they become a blizzard that can forever change your business.

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