My wife and I were in Atlanta last week visiting our son Evan who moved there from Memphis a few months ago.
Wow. What a great city. And it didn’t hurt that the weather was beautiful, bringing people outside for all kinds of eating, drinking, walking, pedaling, and scootering activities.
I knew when we headed down there that I’d uncover some story fodder worthy of inclusion in this newsletter.
But, rather than just writing it as I usually do, I’d like to walk you through the process I generally use and that I encourage you to borrow.
Step #1: Find Something Interesting
I came home with three possibilities:
#1. It’s a very dog-friendly city. There were dogs everywhere – restaurants, bars, on the bike paths. I’m pretty sure one of our waiters was even a dog, but it was hard to be certain with his mask on.
#2. The airline was overbooked. So they offered money in exchange for giving up our seats. In what amounted to a public auction, they started at $400 and a hotel room for anyone who would delay until the next morning. The final seat giver-upper walked away with $800 (it wasn’t me).
#3. We saw the Crash Test Dummies perform. The band had a bunch of hits in the 90s. We saw them in a little dinner club and they were great.
Note that while it’s easy to find interesting things when travelling since everything is new, that’s not at all necessary.
You can write about overdue library books, visiting an ailing parent, or getting stuck shoveling your driveway when the plow guy fails to show up.
All you need is something of interest that gives you an opening for a conversation. It doesn’t need to be Bigfoot-sighting-level noteworthiness.
Think about the things that you mention in passing to friends when you’re having a beer or eating lunch together. Over the past week, I’ve shared all three of my Atlanta observations with friends and clients.
Step #2. Make a Connection
Of course, your newsletter readers don’t really care about your dog, airplane, or aging rocker experiences.
So, your job is to find the connection between the random story and a useful business lesson or insight within your area of expertise.
I could have written about how the extreme dog-friendliness of Atlanta reflects the city’s personality AND … that your newsletter also needs a personality.
I could have written about the airline’s very public, step-by-step increase in the price offered for a seat AND … how this is not at all how pricing works when selling a professional service.
I could have written about how the Crash Test Dummies, while unknown to the next generation, are stars among a certain demographic AND… how this demonstrates the importance of speaking to a particular audience when writing a newsletter.
You get the picture. You tell the story and connect some element of that to …
Step #3. Share the Insight
Once you’ve connected the story, you’re off and running. The rest of the newsletter is elaborating on the “business lesson”:
How to add personality to your newsletter.
Things to consider when pricing a professional service.
Why audience matters and how to pinpoint yours.
Two Things Worth Noting
Thing #1. Most B2B newsletters skip the first two steps. They just start right in on explaining some business concept.
That’s fine. But it’s a lot less interesting and, even more important, a lot less unusual.
Any marketing consultant can write about personality, pricing, and audience. Not nearly as well as I can, of course, but more or less.
However, I’m the only person on Earth who can tell firsthand stories of what I did in Atlanta last weekend.
Your expertise is not unique. Your life is.
Thing #2. When you make stories part of your content, you’ll never run out of things to say.
I’ve written more than 500 of these newsletters. I’ve only got about 30 ideas.
But, because I keep using different experiences and observations as the opening to the concepts, it’s always fresh.
You’ll eventually run out of business insights. You’ll never run out of stories.
Here’s the bottom line.
Humans are hardwired to pay attention to stories.
When you use them in your newsletter – and presentations, and marketing, and podcasts, and, and… – you’ll find it easier to write, easier to be remembered, and easier to keep people interested in whatever it is you have to say.
- Have you ever seen the Crash Test Dummies?
- How about Bigfoot (extra credit if it was at the same time)?
- Did you know that Atlanta spelled backwards is almost the same? Discuss.
Share your answers below…