All Apples And No Pie

I don’t know where you live (I don’t even know who you are). If you do, however, reside in Massachusetts, I know one thing: You went apple picking at some point during the last two months.

Unlike other laws which we don’t interpret quite so strictly – stopping at red lights, for example – here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, apple picking is not optional.

Don’t ask, I don’t know why either. But the fact is, come autumn, all permanent residents are obligated to load their children into a vehicle (preferably a minivan) and drive them to a place with the words “Pick Ur Own,” “Orchard” or “Farm” in the name. (Extra credit if it has all three.)

Don’t get me wrong… it’s not a bad experience. And if your children are more familiar with SpongeBob’s undersea home than their own backyard, it’s a nice excuse for visiting nature.

Financially, however, it’s no bargain.

Proponents argue that at $15.00 for a 20 pound bag, the cost per apple is well below what you’ll find in the supermarket. True enough.

What they never mention though, is that no human being ever needs 20 pounds of apples at any given time (particularly after you and your offspring have just spent two hours wandering the orchard, eating every apple in sight).

So you pays your money, you takes your apples, and you drive home, whereupon you jam them into the bottom of the refrigerator, awaiting the day when you will “make a pie.”

Yeah, right.

The problem, I’ve come to realize, is not that apple pies, or apple crisps, or apple sauce are all that hard to make. No my friends, the obstacle to a pantry full of apple-based treats is the need to peel and core the damn things.

And so they sit there, waiting for someone to come along and do the job. Or, more likely, to throw them in the garbage when you need to make room for your Thanksgiving turkey.

This year, however, things at my house were different.

The reason? My sister-in-law Kathie, arrived one Sunday afternoon with an old-fashioned apple peeler and corer. Not only was this thing efficient – I’m not religious, but I used the word “miracle” several times – it was fun too, and we had those things skinless and coreless in about 15 minutes.

Later that evening, and now stuffed with several slices of fresh, warm, apple pie, I got to thinking:
Turning apples into pie is a lot like turning industry knowledge into E-Newsletters… in both cases, there’s an obstacle in the way.

In the case of apples, it’s peeling them. In the case of your E-Newsletter, it’s narrowing your industry knowledge (the apples) into a single, simple, sharp idea each month (the pie).

Because in my experience, the problem with most professional service E-Newsletters is not that the writers don’t know what they’re talking about or have the requisite experience. They do. But they wander around, and cover so much ground, that you, the reader, finally give up and get your pie elsewhere.

Bottom line: All day, every day, I help clients get their E-Newsletters written. And whether I’m writing it for them or simply offering coaching to them, we always begin by agreeing on what the point is. What’s the one message – the simple “aha” – that we want readers to walk away with this month?

Because believe me, if you can’t answer that question in one clear sentence, you’ve got a lot of apples, but no pie.

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