Assuming I make it through the next day and a half without saying anything really stupid, tomorrow, at exactly 6:00 pm, my wife Linda and I will have been married for 17 years (in a row).
Frankly, and despite the frequent company of three children, two mothers-in-law and one dog, I’m not all that surprised that we’ve made it this far. I must say, we’re a pretty good match.
We are however, quite different, particularly when it comes to our respective interest in “the details.”
…When Linda buys new shoes, she wears them around the house for a few days before cutting the tags off, so that she can return them if they don’t feel quite right. When I buy new shoes, I wear them out of the store.
…When Linda orders food in a restaurant, she has many questions and requests. When I order food in a restaurant, I frequently forget what I asked for by the time it arrives.
…When Linda leaves the kids with a babysitter, she provides a long list of foods to be eaten, homework to be done and activities to avoid. When I leave the kids with a babysitter, I simply request that they be kept alive until I return.
Just between you and me, I don’t deny that my inability to focus in on small details (e.g. “What should we name the new baby?”), and my tendency to oversimplify even the most complex problems, can be a source of frustration for Linda, who often needs my input on a given topic.
That said, and despite the negative implications that oversimplification can have in a relationship, I’ve come to realize that this natural inclination of mine is actually a distinct advantage in writing an E-Newsletter.
The problem with most E-Newsletters is “too much.” Too much detail, too many points being made, too many words being used. Too much, too much, too much.
Few people have time or interest in learning everything you know about your chosen profession. Even if they did, that’s not why you publish a newsletter. You do it to position yourself as expert, make a human connection with your readers and stay top of mind, so that when a prospective client has a need that you can satisfy, you get the call.
In practice, that means doing three things (there’s probably a few more, but I’m oversimplifying again):
- Isolate one idea. If you can’t sum up the central point of each edition of your newsletter in a handful of words, you’ve got too much in there. That’s not such bad news – take one idea and save the rest for a future issue(s).
- Seek to educate, rather than impress. If you can approach your newsletter as a tool for helping your readers better understand the ins and outs of your area of expertise, you’re on the right track. Too many companies on the other hand, seem more interested in demonstrating how much they know – big words, detailed arguments, blah, blah, blah. Don’t worry… if you succeed in giving me a simple insight that I didn’t have before, I’ll believe you’re an expert anyway.
- Boil it down. Your audience may be capable of plowing through a detailed document, but whether they want to or not is another story. Remember, your newsletter arrives in the middle of the work day along with dozens of other emails, most of which are short and casual. Think in terms of a tasty snack which leaves them hungry for more, rather than an eight course meal which has them running for the men’s room (sorry, bad metaphor).
Bottom Line. There are many situations in which providing lots and lots of detail works in your favor. Writing an effective E-Newsletter however, is not one of them. In this case, focus instead on providing brief, simple, easily understood chunks, with the promise of more to come next time.
P.S. If you see Linda, wish her a happy 17th from me.