In Search Of The Fab Four

Today’s newsletter is so valuable, that I frankly wouldn’t blame you if after reading it, you felt compelled to take $5.00 out of your wallet, stuff it in an envelope and send it directly to us (if you work for a company with over 100 employees, what the hell, make it an even $20).

Here’s why: Last issue we spoke about the importance of quality content in making your newsletter memorable, shareable, and ultimately valuable to your business. Many of you wrote back to say, “Thanks, but. . . How do we do that?!”

And so this week, I share with you the Penguin Principles. The four guidelines which we use to make sure that all the newsletters we’re involved in stay on track. Here they are:

1. Make it useful. With a business to business newsletter in particular, it’s difficult to get any traction with readers if you don’t give them some kind of actionable “aha” with every issue you send. They are barraged with emails, and eager to click the delete button as often as possible. Your goal therefore, is to give them pause. To make them live in fear that if they delete your newsletter, they will miss some insight that would have made a significant impact on their success. Useful information rises to the top of the pile, and when your newsletter is on top, you need not worry about how big the pile is.

2. Make it interesting. I don’t know who started the rumor that significant and profitable businesses must also be serious and boring, but it seems to have caught on nonetheless. That’s good news for you and me. Because with all the dry as dust E-Newsletters out there all trying to sound like the front page of the Wall Street Journal, we can make our newsletters shine with little effort. Personal anecdotes, conversational language and the occasional joke here and there will keep your readers involved long enough for them to hear the “real” information you’re trying to give them. They probably won’t read it just because it’s interesting, but they certainly won’t read it if it’s not.

3. Make it simple. An effective newsletter isn’t a doctoral thesis; it’s not even a case study. It’s what I like to call, “a nugget.” One insight or tip or concept that your readers can take in, understand, and hopefully remember long enough to put into practice. If you give me too much information (even if it’s good), I’m likely to stockpile your newsletters until I delete them in one, “I’ll never get around to reading these old ones anyway” frenzy. Give your readers something they can understand and remember.

4. Make it Authentic. Done right, your E-Newsletter is the voice of your company. It reflects your unique personality and culture, whatever that happens to be. I’ve walked into enough companies to know that each of them — even the ones in seemingly straight laced, hard to differentiate industries — has it’s own language, pace, sense of humor and approach. Don’t hide all that in an effort to sound “professional.” Marketing is the opposite of fitting in — do yourself a favor and fit out !

That’s it for this issue. I hope you found it useful, interesting, simple and authentic (I’ll be waiting at my mailbox if you need me).

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