Don’t Kick The Habit

There’s a great sandwich shop a couple of miles from my office. Good food, reasonable prices, friendly service, easy parking. It’s a bit out of the way, but always worth the trip. I never go there anymore.

Here’s what happened:

One day about a month ago I went by, and as I got out of my car, I saw a big sign on the window: Closed For Renovations: We Will Re-Open On Monday.

On Monday I made a special point of going over there (I was getting pretty hungry). This time the sign said: Closed For Renovations: We Will Re-Open On Thursday.

When I went back on Thursday, not only was the place still closed, the sign now simply read: Closed For Renovations.

At that point, having now been without a regular lunch spot for a couple of weeks, I decided to search for an alternative. Sure enough, I found another place that’s just about as convenient and just about as good.

Here’s my point:

I’m quite confident that the owners of the first restaurant did the math and knew exactly how much it would cost them in lost revenue for every day they remained closed. What I’m willing to bet they didn’t consider however, is how much future business they would lose (maybe forever) from regular customers like me who in the interim, found another place to eat.

In other words, there comes a point at which shutting down temporarily costs you more than just today’s business — it costs you a piece of tomorrow’s as well.

Here’s why it matters regarding your E-Newsletter:

Lots of companies skip publishing an issue here or there…it’s summertime, it’s the holidays, there’s a company crises, whatever. Although I advise against it if possible (see my newsletter on this topic from last summer), it’s not a disaster, and frankly, most of your readers won’t even notice.

Inertia is the incumbent’s greatest friend, and just as most of us don’t reevaluate each day which TV shows to watch, which newspaper to read or what to eat for breakfast — we pretty much just do what we did yesterday — we won’t drop your newsletter for a single absence. Missing one issue — like being closed for one day if you operate a restaurant — isn’t going to cause your readers to look for an alternative.

If however, you begin to publish infrequently or irregularly, it’s a different story. (Note: here comes the key point of this entire article, so put down your donut and stay with me.)

If your newsletter satisfies an important need in my business or personal life (i.e. you give me essential legal or marketing or financial or whatever-it-is-you-specialize-in information), and you go missing long enough, I’m going to find a replacement.

And at that point, the inertia baton will transfer to your competitor, who, and I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you, probably makes about as good a sandwich as you do.

Bottom Line: Reader relationships are like those old fashioned hand pumps. It’s no surprise that when you stop pumping, the water stops coming out. But that’s not all. When you stop pumping, the remaining water in the pump drops all the way back to the bottom of the well. The next time you want something to drink, you’re back to square one.

You work hard to create a quality newsletter and attract readers, all with the intention of turning some of those readers into future clients. If you ignore them for too long however, they’ll find somebody else to eat lunch with. Bon Appetit!

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