I Walk The Line

It all began innocently enough. My brother-in-law Holly was over at the house a couple of Sundays ago, when he overheard my wife Linda talking about how much she hated the flowered wallpaper border in our family room – something we inherited when we bought the house four years ago.

Holly pointed out how easy it would be to just pull the whole thing off. Sure enough, the next thing I knew, my entire family was tugging on flowered wallpaper from all directions.

Personally, I had no objection to the death of the flowered wallpaper. Not because I hated it, but because in four years of living here, I’m pretty sure I never noticed it.

What I did notice however – now that the border was gone – was a distinct, six inch wide, seven feet up, white stripe circumnavigating the room; a design feature which had apparently been hiding underneath all these years.

Again, not a huge problem. It simply meant that someone (by which I mean, me) would have to repaint the room one of these days.

“Not so fast, Daddy,” came a voice from about chest level. It belonged to my daughter Emily.

She went on to inform me that her 10th birthday party (with sleepover) was scheduled for that coming Friday night. And, she added, “there is no way on God’s green earth that my friends and I are going to celebrate my 10th birthday (with sleepover) while sitting in a room surrounded by a big, ugly, white, who-snatched-the-wallpaper stripe.”

OK, I may have embellished Emily’s quote a bit, but you get the idea. To preserve family harmony, that room needed to be painted and put back together before Friday night.

And so I did. And so it was.

But here’s why I mention all this. Were it not for the deadline, you and anyone else who walked into that family room would have been staring at a big white stripe for a long time to come. It was only because of the Emily line in the sand that I got it done.

Your E-Newsletter needs a deadline too. Because when it comes to listing the top five reasons why E-Newsletters fail, the first three are not publishing, not publishing and not publishing. In other words, none of the things we talk about here every other week work if you don’t get the thing out the door, month after month after month.

The problem you face is that unlike so much of what you deal with every day in your business life, your E-Newsletter will never be on fire. It can always be pushed back one more day, or “until things settle down around here,” or until who knows when. And before you know it, your monthly newsletter is monthly in name only.

Two suggestions for staying on track:

  • Pick a monthly publication day. First Tuesday, third Thursday, whatever you like. It doesn’t matter really, so long as you commit to it and treat it like a real deadline.
  • Tell everybody what your publication day is. Mention it in your sign-up welcome letter, put it on your web site (you can see what I do here), shout it from the rooftops. The idea is to paint yourself into a corner – to create a situation for yourself where not publishing on time is embarrassing and uncomfortable. That way, maybe you’ll keep doing it.

Bottom Line. One of the things I love about E-Newsletters is that there’s no such thing as an “E-Newsletter Emergency.” If something’s not quite right, you can always put off publication for one more day.

The flip side however, is that this lack of urgency often results in E-Newsletters being moved to the back burner, a place where they languish until, like so many other ambitious marketing efforts, they’re quietly forgotten.

If you want the business building results that this magnificent tool has to offer, you’ve got to make a commitment and stick to it. Emily and I will be watching.

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