GROW

Need a Better Newsletter? Think Like a Drug Dealer

Email newsletters aren't that different from drugs--if they're any good, that is.
Advertisement

Sure, it sounds crazy to draw parallels between drug dealing and email newsletters, but let’s face it - drug dealers are pretty entrepreneurial. Actually, drug dealing is the very definition of a cutthroat industry. Just one slip-up, and a drug dealer will lose a customer (or perhaps their life). And it’s not like drug dealers can get new customers just by buying commercial time in the next episode of The Big Bang Theory. Drug dealers constantly need to rely on new ways to get their product out there, and to keep their revenues going.

Let’s explore this: 

Content Needs to be Addictive

 Anything you put out there has to be something people will try at least once. Then it has to benefit them (or they have to think it does), so that they’ll want it again and again. Ever had an amazing sales quarter and then just decide, “Oh well, that one sales quarter was awesome. I don’t need another one. No worries. I’m happy to go back to my previous sales quarter. The one where I brought in 35% less.” Of course not. No entrepreneur thinks that way.

Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is a simple newsletter, but it’s filled with information that helps people improve their business. When you answer a HARO query from a journalist, and that journalist interviews you or quotes you, your business gets exposure, which almost always translates into increased visibility and higher sales. Once that happens, you want more of it. HARO is a creation people want, over and over again.

If the Quality Is Poor, They Won’t Come Back

The beauty of social media lies in how easy it is for anyone to create content. The downfall of social media lies in how easy it is for anyone to create content.

Today, almost anyone can create an email newsletter and blast it out to hundreds of people in a short amount of time. So you do it, and you have great results. Then you realize that you need to do this every single week, and that freaks you out, so you stop. Freaking out is bad.

There is a better way. It comes down to an age-old rule my mom taught me: “Speak only when you have something to say.” That means producing compelling content only when you have compelling content to produce. Don’t try to “fill the pipeline” when there’s nothing interesting to share.

One of the quickest ways to get me to unsubscribe from any email newsletter is to send me a newsletter that tells me you have nothing interesting to talk about. While I appreciate that you’re trying to “reach out” to me as a customer, if I’m spending time to open and read your newsletter, I expect, at the very least, to find information worth my time.

Interesting content could be a sales discount or an interesting statistic I can share. If you don’t have anything interesting to say, wait before you reach out. You want to be known for compelling content that people anxiously await, rather than, “Oh, another crappy newsletter. Delete.” Or worse, “Unsubscribe.”

Your Stuff Has To Be Better and More Compelling Than Anyone Else’s

I have something approaching 150,000 Twitter followers. But I only follow about 700 people back. It’s not because I’m rude, and it’s certainly not because I don’t care about what they have to say. It’s simply a question of time management. If I followed all 75,000 people, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with a single one. Our brains can only process so much, which is why people are only willing to subscribe to a finite amount of content.

The people I do follow, however, have proven themselves, time and time again, to produce compelling content, content that’s interesting to me, content I can digest to make my life better, content that offers me solutions to problems I either did or didn’t know I had.  Your content has to be compelling enough to consistently inform, intrigue, and satiate your followers. We invite interesting people, companies, and brands into our lives to make our lives more interesting. Be one of those.

Stalk the Competition

Which emails do I read religiously, as soon as they come out? Those from my competitors. I check to see what they’re doing, and how they’re doing it. I sometimes even order product from them to test it out. If it sucks, I know I’m doing ok. If it’s awesome, I know it’s time to up my game. It’s incredibly simple to do, really.

I know some entrepreneurs who won’t do this. Their rationale is that they could be spending all that time making their business better.

I disagree, totally. No matter how good your business is, if you’re not monitoring your competition, you’re losing to them. Those who don’t learn from their competitors are doomed to be eaten by them.

 

Last updated: Sep 27, 2012

PETER SHANKMAN | Small business evangelist, Vocus

Peter Shankman is vice president and small-business evangelist for Vocus. He is the founder of Help A Reporter Out (HARO), which was acquired by Vocus in 2010.




Register on Inc.com today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments
EMAIL
PASSWORD
EMAIL
FIRST NAME
LAST NAME
EMAIL
PASSWORD

Or sign up using: