I don’t know about you, but around my house, things get pretty hectic this time of year. We’re an interfaith family, which means that compared to most people, we’ve got twice as many holidays to celebrate (thankfully, we don’t have twice as many relatives).
This past Tuesday night — while putting away the Hannukah decorations to make room for the Christmas decorations — I made a startling discovery. Stuck to the back of our well worn copy of Herschel and The Hannukah Goblins was my December Visa bill (don’t ask, I don’t know how it got there either). I tore open the envelope and looked inside. . . it was due the next day.
“This is a problem,” I explained to my five year old son Jonathan. “Even if we drop it in the mailbox tonight, there’s no way it will get there tomorrow.”
Fortunately, Jonathan had a simple solution: “Why don’t we just put two stamps on the envelope so that it gets there two times as fast?”
He had a good point. After all, if one stamp buys you two day delivery, shouldn’t two stamps cut the time in half? Unfortunately, and despite the fact that his thinking was perfectly logical, in practice this wasn’t going to work (Hmmm, maybe he has a future in consulting).
I mention this today, because I see many people applying the same logical (but equally flawed) thinking to improving E-Newsletter results:“If I could double the size of my list, I’d double my newsletter’s effectiveness.” Here too, it’s not necessarily the case.
If your newsletter isn’t making the phone ring with new clients, putting it in front of twice as many people may only result in twice as many people not calling you(or as that famous country music song goes, “If your phone don’t ring, it will be me who ain’t calling you still”).
Instead, as the year comes to a close, I recommend taking time to reevaluate your newsletter, to make sure it’s still on the right track. Here are three questions worth asking:
• Has my target audience changed? Hopefully, when you launched your newsletter way back when, you took the time to identify a clear target audience (if you didn’t, this article might be helpful). Over time however, it may have shifted. Maybe the people you identified as potential buyers of your service are no longer your target. If you want your newsletter to make the phone ring with “good clients,” you need to make sure you’re still talking to people who fit that description.
• Does my newsletter highlight my expertise? Make a list of the topics you’ve covered over the past 12 months. Compare this to the things you claim to know and the areas in which you claim to specialize. How does it match up? Remember that the purpose of covering a topic area in your newsletter is to subtly demonstrate to readers a knowledge and expertise in a particular area (so that they call you first when they have a matching need). If your topics misrepresent the work you do, you will attract people who want what you don’t have (and vice versa).
• Am I taking a position? Whatever your industry, nobody’s interested in one more middle of the road, been-said-a-thousand-times-before essay. If you want readers to get to know you (and call you), you need to develop a point of view and share it with each newsletter. Look for the places where you break ranks with your peers and make sure these opinions are coming through loud and clear when you write.
Bottom Line. If you want better results, produce a better newsletter (and worry less about growing your subscriber list). The end of the year is a perfect time to reevaluate, refocus, and make sure that all your E-Newsletter elements are pulling in the same direction!
Happy holidays to you and your family (see you in three weeks!).