Why Newsletters Fail

Maybe you’ve noticed … here in America, we’ve got two distinct types of holidays.

First, you’ve got your “A-list’ celebrations. Things like Labor Day, New Years, 4th of July, and Thanksgiving. Among their fellow commemorative events, these are the heavyweights, the celebrities.

If there were a People Magazine of Holidays (not that I am suggesting this), you’d see New Year’s Day on the cover frequently, looking thin and pale while entering a rehab facility in Arizona.

Next, and much lower in the pecking order, are the auxiliary holidays.

These are the ones – Columbus Day, President’s Day, Veteran’s Day, to name just a few – who, while certainly more famous than you or I, still have to keep their day jobs to make ends meet.

They’re the everyman holidays, perpetually in the shadow of their sunglasses-wearing, paparazzi-dodging, A-list counterparts.

Here in Massachusetts, a place that has always celebrated the hard-working underdog, we decided many years ago to take it one step further and conjure up our own, proprietary, secondary holiday. We call it Patriots’ Day.

Patriots’ Day commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord, which took place on April 19, 1775, and whose occurrence marked the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

For most of its history, Patriots’ Day was celebrated on April 19th, to honor those who fought that day for our county’s independence. Back in the late sixties, however, it was decided that Patriots’ Day would always fall on a Monday, to honor those who needed a three-day weekend.

Around here, Patriots’ Day is also known as “Marathon Monday,” because on it, every year, the Boston Marathon is held. And, as luck would have it, the start of the marathon occurs not 50 yards from my office window, here in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

So, you’re probably wondering, “What’s the best thing about having an internationally acclaimed, world class sporting event take place in your town each year?’

“Is it the thrill of seeing the fastest runners on Earth set off on a heroic, 26.2-mile journey?”

“Is it the chance to rub elbows with celebrities and dignitaries who arrive for the event?”

“Is it the mind-boggling-ness of seeing your high school football field covered in wall-to-wall porta-potties?’

No, no, and okay, maybe a little.

But the truth is, the best thing about living in the town where the Boston Marathon starts is that every year, no matter what, the place gets spruced up from top to bottom.

We sweep all the streets; we repair and touch up all the statues; we repaint all the crosswalks and parking spots; we mow the lawns and put down new mulch. It’s like having your daughter’s wedding in your backyard… every year.

In fact, having now lived here for 20 years, I’ve come to realize that what I’m witnessing each spring, in the days leading up to the marathon, is the benefit of a firm deadline.

Unlike neighboring towns that debate when and how much of this kind of routine maintenance to perform, in our town it happens every year NO MATTER WHAT. The marathon date is in stone and everyone does what it takes to get ready.

Your newsletter, unfortunately, has no such deadline. It’s never due today, and the truth is, if you publish one day late, or two days late, or a week late, few people will notice.

So you keep putting it off for other priorities.

You’ve got a proposal due… newsletter gets put off. You’re waiting until your new web site launches so you can announce it… newsletter gets put off. Your daughter is getting married in the backyard… newsletter gets put off.

It’s a mistake.

It’s a mistake because if you truly believe (as I do) in the magical marketing magnificence of staying in frequent contact with the people you know, then you need to actually stay in frequent contact with the people you know (am I going too fast for you?).

In other words, you need to publish regularly.

The solution? Give yourself a firm deadline

Third Friday of the month; second Wednesday of the month; one day before the monthly networking meeting you never fail to attend. It doesn’t matter what your deadline is – so long as you have one.

Then, once you pick a deadline, publicize it – on the newsletter sign-up page, in the newsletter’s welcome letter, in the signature of your email. Do whatever you can to paint yourself into a corner so you have no option but to publish on time.

Among my newsletter-publishing clients, the ones who see the most success – invitations to speak; requests for comment from other publications; reshares, likes, and comments on social media; and of course, inbound leads – are the ones that never miss a beat.

Here’s the bottom line.

Among the top five reasons that email newsletter fail, three of them are “not publishing regularly.”

Pick a date, give it the respect it deserves, and stick to it. Don’t make me send a drunken New Year’s Day to your office.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever been drunk on New Year’s Day?
  2. We don’t believe you.
  3. What things do you do to get your marketing done regularly?

Share your answers below…

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12 thoughts on “Why Newsletters Fail

  1. Karenna Colcroft

    I’m severely allergic to alcohol, so no, I never have actually been drunk on New Year’s Day or any other day. I can *act* completely drunk without drinking, though, so there’s that.

    I have my author newsletter set to go on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month, and I stick to that even if I feel like I “don’t have anything to say” or other life stuff happens. I can schedule the newsletter in advance most of the time, so I write it when I have the time to write it and just schedule it to go out on the days I’ve announced.

  2. Lana

    Yep, always have a deadline and stick to it. I’ve worked in publishing where we had no other choice. (Not gonna answer question 1). I’m sorry for your loss 🙁

  3. Bonnie

    Sending my deepest sympathy at the loss of your mama. She is lovely. By the smile on her face in that photo, she is not only happy but proud of her loving son.

  4. Patti Hermes

    1. No, most of my life I’ve worked NYE, from babysitting to bartending to designated driver. I’ve never regretted it.
    2. Really
    3. Marketing in the morning, as in First.

    Sorry for your loss. We’re never ready to lose our parents, no matter how old we get.


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