Happy Anniversary To Me

You hold in your hands (sort of) the 200th edition of this newsletter. It’s the bicentennial. It’s equal to the number of NASCAR races won by Richard Petty. It’s 1,400 in dog newsletters.

Eight and a half years, every other week, through wind, rain, sleet, snow, dead of night and two presidential elections.

Any way you slice it, that’s a lot of newsletters. More specifically, that’s a lot of topics, words and content.

I mention this today because one question that I get a lot, particularly from people who are thinking about or who have just started publishing their own E-Newsletter is, “How’d you get to be so good lookin’?”

The other question I often hear is, “What if we run out of things to write about?”

“What,” they ask, “do we do when we’ve exhausted our limited supply of expert information?”

It’s a great question. And, I’ve come to discover, one that accounts for why so many people and companies never bother launching an E-Newsletter in the first place. Because if you’re standing here at the starting line, and you can only think of five or six or 12 things to write about, what’s the point of even beginning?

As usual, I’ve got great news for you. As I’ll explain in a minute, if you can make a subtle shift in the way you think of newsletter content, you can go from “not enough to write about” to a lifetime supply.

First a bit of background…

Most companies approach their E-Newsletter as if they were writing a book. They start with a topic (i.e. their area of expertise), and proceed to make a list (book chapters) of everything they know about that topic.

To use the example of an executive recruiter, the list might include “How to read a resume,” “How to conduct a job interview,” “How to negotiate a compensation package.”

Nothing wrong with that – these are all topics which give that recruiter an opportunity to demonstrate her knowledge and point of view. Most companies, in fact, spend the first year or two on these “how to” topics.

The problem is that when people are asked to come up with a list of topics (I ask all my clients, so I know), they can’t usually get much beyond 25 or so. That’s fine if you’re writing book chapters, but it’s a long way from infinity, which is basically what you need if your E-Newsletter is going to be your go to marketing tool for years to come.

So that’s the problem. You only have so much expert information and sooner or later the supply dries up.

Okay, here’s the Subtle Shift Solution (the SSS) I mentioned earlier:

Stop thinking of your newsletter as a tool for sharing information and start thinking of your newsletter as a tool for sharing your point of view.

(I told you it was subtle.) Why? Because information is limited; point of view goes on forever.

Here’s what I mean. Let’s take that same executive recruiter. She can only write one “how to” newsletter on evaluating resumes.

But, if she has a belief related to recruiting – let’s say, just to make something up, she’s passionate about the value of matching the perfect person with the perfect job, because she’s found that when that happens, the person flourishes, the company prospers and everybody wins – she can talk about that in many, many newsletters.

She can tell the story about placing Joe in a great job and how his life changed for the better. She can tell the story about the company that started a telecommuting program so that it could attract a broader range of high quality people. She can tell the story about the client company that went bankrupt because it treated its employees terribly and by the time it realized what was happening, it was too late.

The point is, when you have a point of view, it becomes a lens through which you can offer perspective on a virtually unlimited number of situations. If you give away information, on the other hand – even if it’s good information – the supply is necessarily limited.

So step number one is to get yourself a point of view. Spend time thinking about and clarifying the things you believe (not the facts you know) about the work you do and the industry you work in.

Here are some of mine, for example:

  • Relationship, authenticity and top-of-mindedness matter more than expertise when professional service providers are chosen.
  • Doing what you’re naturally good at is the most efficient and enjoyable path to success.
  • It’s easier to stand out by narrowing your focus than by proving you’re better.

Step number two is to look for and write about situations where your point of view is being applied well (or being blatantly ignored). These can be things you experience first hand, but you can also write about things you see in the news, read in books, or wherever.

For those of you who like math, it looks like this: Point of view X Situation = Compelling newsletter.

But wait, there’s even more good news (it just goes on and on today). Not only will this approach give you an endless supply of content, you’ll also end up writing newsletters which are more persuasive and more effective in bringing you clients.

Why? Because prospective clients care more about who you are than what you know. Writing about how to read a resume doesn’t reveal that; writing about the company that let success slip through its hands because it took its employees for granted, and how angry it made you feel, does.

Bottom line: In most professions, the difference between a seasoned expert and a newly minted college grad isn’t information. It’s perspective.

If you want readers to see you as the industry leading professional that you are, and if you want to sleep peacefully knowing you’ll never, ever run out of things to write about, write with a point of view in mind.

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