September 11, 2001 Volume 1 Issue 16
Groundhog Day is 6 (maybe 7) times a year
Sometime way back the idea of a newsletter was "invented".
I love 'em. Always have. And expect to even more in this decade.
Why? Well, because most often they're a quick read. Readers Digest and USAToday style. The message in a compact package - to the point. The real challenge is retaining the interest without as much time or space to tell the story.
Another challenge with newsletters is keeping them going. Getting the first one out is tough ... and then it gets worse! I know this to be true - as for 2 years I cranked out a newsletter for my business. I've also done it for clients. And, what you're reading this minute is a weekly E-zine newsletter. Electronic, vs. paper. Same challenge.
Bill Blinn is a writer. A radio broadcaster. A WebMaster. With a heavy dose of marketing to go with his pocket-protector techy side. He has his own Technology Corner E-zine, tied to his Sunday morning radio show. I know all this to be true - because Bill is the guy who makes certain you get this E-zine each week. And keeps my web sites, and those of several clients, up to date.
Bill also cranks out the newsletter titled The Morning Groundhog. He does this for Proficient Computing Solutions ... a company he has worked for for a couple of decades. Several times during each of the last 4 or 5 years a new 4 page version has hit the mail box.
There are always 2-3 serious articles, several pure "news" items, a Funny Business cartoon. Bill says "There's virtually no hype in the publication. We tell about new products we're offering. We try to provide information that will be useful to the reader."
Yet ... there is this small print; Official And Ominous-Looking Small Print With A Long Headline That We Put Here So You Will Think The Morning Groundhog Is A Very Important Publication. Which, of course, it is!
When you dig behind the headline you find this, which, when you know Bill, "sounds" just like him;
"The Morning Groundhog is dedicated to clients and friend
And then Bill shares more about the name; "The first issue was scheduled to roll around the first of February, so we decided to call it The Morning Groundhog. The theory was we'd change the name to something more appropriate with the first 'real issue'. It's still The Morning Groundhog, complete with a sketch of a groundhog drinking a cup of coffee from a PCS mug."
So, now you know why the name. And so much for plans, too. Now, you also know why I named this article as I did. The real Groundhog Day of February 2 each year is 1 ... and 6 issues of this newsletter equals 7.
Here's what I learned from Bill about The Morning Groundhog and how it comes together. More, or less ... every other month.
"The newsletter is priority #11 on my list of top 10 must-do items. So, it has to be something that goes together rather quickly and easily. I use Ventura Publisher, which is probably the most underrated, under-appreciated, unknown piece of software in the history of computing."
Comment; it seems the newsletter is ALWAYS missing from the top 10 to do list. Which is one reason it is hard to pull together on a schedule. Bill has a large company of "friends" who put it off and put it off.
Later Bill says this; "We considered doing the newsletter quarterly, but that's too long between issues. Monthly isn't enough time between issues. So it became bi-monthly by default."
Love it! Because Bill is so correct. Right-on, William!
Next, I asked if the paper version is put online. Here is the answer; "Yes, and no. Some of the back issues have made it to the website, but not the past year's worth." This is sad. Sure, it's a time thing. Still, in this computer era, a computer company would do well to have their newsletter where we could all get to it.
I asked Bill how he finds stories. "Some of the stories are the result of conversations with people in sales, technical support or client support. 'What's new' articles come from sales. 'How to' articles from tech support. I develop most of the new technology articles based on reports I've done for my radio program." Bill almost always includes a marketing article, too ... most often one of mine. Thank you.
Bill was born and raised in what we Americans like to call the "mid-west". He has the worth ethic that automatically is associated with that part of the country. Bill also has a sense of humor. A big sense of humor. His E-mail messages have an ever rotating quotation. Mix of funny ... every so often something more serious.
And that's how Bill - and me, too! - think a newsletter should read. Serious, with a bit of smile, maybe even a laugh, tossed in. Bill says it best; "The newsletters I've liked the most are the ones who don't take themselves too seriously. They take the information seriously. They take their customers seriously. But they poke a little fun at themselves."
Newsletters are here to stay. The week I'm writing this I signed up, online, for specific E-zine newsletters from 3 different magazine business publications I like. In fact, I can see myself NOT renewing the paper versions of these very good business news and information sources. I'm hooked on newsletters.
A follow-up on newsletters
All of us "belong" to groups. Associations and clubs. At church, school, work ... and of course, play.
The main article above is about newsletters. So, I looked at the groups I'm active in ... and found all of them have a newsletter. The Arizona Direct Marketing Association (www.AzDMA.org) and the Los Angeles Direct Marketing Association (www.LAdma.org) each produce a wonderful multi-page monthly letter for their members and friends.
The L.A. #1 Harley Owners Group (www.LA1hog.com) out of southern California do, too. As do a number of those we buy from. A business printer. A list/database house. A office supply house.
Each is paper. Some are black/white, some 2 color, some 4 color. All with graphics and photography. Some post on their web site ... others do not.
Every day I receive E-zines. Some from the marketing business are pure news reports 5 times a week. Such as from Direct and DM News. Some are once a week, others every 2 or 4 weeks. I was looking for a pattern ... and did not find one. Because each pub and each audience is truly "different".
What is consistent is newsletters are "in". You might want to jump on the train.
The Baker's Dozen
Long ago I learned lists worked.
Worked in my seminars ... people took notes in 1, 2, 3, order. And then high-lighted those points important to them. Lists work for me, too. To remember things. When I list A, B, C I'm much more likely to get things done right, the first time. In order. On time.
At the same time the popular "list of 10" is boring to me. So, my lists of marketing, direct marketing and sales ideas have 13 ... The Baker's Dozen.
Nearly 3 years ago I began a series of writings - lists - each with 13 points. A new collection is posted on my web site every 4 weeks - 13 times a year. Every so often I'll mention one here. And "hot link" it, so, if you're interested, you can get the full story.
This time it's my take on one of the year's "hot" topics ... E-mail marketing. "Click" here and EnJoy! 13 Platinum e-mail Marketing Concepts.
by ROCKINGHAM*JUTKINS*marketing, all rights reserved.