My Old School

A couple of weeks ago, I drove down to Long Island with my 11-year-old daughter Emily, to visit my parents. I have a client in New York City, and since Emily doesn’t see her grandparents all that much, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to combine a family visit with a chance to deduct the cost of the entire trip.

On our second day there, I asked Emily if she was interested in visiting my old high school. She thought it sounded like fun, so away we went, hoping we’d be able to get into the building. Sure enough, with the first day of school just days away, it was buzzing with maintenance people putting on the finishing touches, and we strolled right in.

I hadn’t set foot in that building in almost 30 years (I’m 47, for those of you keeping score at home) and some things, such as the updated library and expanded gymnasium, were quite different.

Other things, however – the blue lockers; the smell of the hallways; even some of the teachers (whose now elderly photos I saw posted on the wall) – hadn’t changed a bit. It was all very familiar, and assuming there’s no law prohibiting bald, wrinkly, high school juniors, I’m sure I could have fit right in all over again.

By the same token, regular, recurring sections in your newsletter – an introductory note, a main article, a quote of the month, etc. – help readers feel comfortable and welcome when your e-mail arrives. Because while it’s true that (for most of us) the average time between publications is 30 days, rather than 30 years, it’s still long enough for readers to become disoriented.

The other benefit of regular, recurring sections is that it makes it easier to write your newsletter (ah, now I’ve got your attention). There’s nothing harder than staring at a blank screen when it comes time to write, and knowing that you’ve got more or less the same handful of sections to populate each month makes the job easier.

One more thing. Because your E-Newsletter is electronic (that’s what the “E” stands for), you can easily include/exclude sections each month. Don’t have a “legal tidbit” (or whatever) this month? Just leave it out. Unlike a print publication, there’s no extra blank page that needs filling and no cost efficiency in printing more pages.

For a look at some examples, follow this link to my web site. Click any of the newsletter images on the right side of the page (after pausing to marvel at the sheer otherworldliness of the accompanying testimonials) and you’ll see plenty of examples of recurring newsletter sections.

As for me, I’ll be rummaging through my parents’ attic, searching for my Sony Walkman, red converse hi-tops, and size 31 Levis.

(Special thanks this month to Paul Baudisch of Keyword Advisors for suggesting this month’s topic. How about you? Got a topic you’d like to see covered in a future issue? Keep it to yourself; I don’t like feedback)

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