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Should you get personal?

Posted by Ilise Benun on

On LinkedIn, I recently started a conversation about getting personal in newsletters based on Deidre Rienzo’s blog post. The post sparked some strong opinions…Janet Falk’s being one of them. Here is Janet’s guest post on this topic. (Watch for Deidre’s rebuttal tomorrow. And chime into the conversation on the LinkedIn post here.)

Ilise Benun recently shared on LinkedIn a guest blog post by Deidre Rienzo. Benun and Rienzo encourage newsletter writers to share personal details as a way to engage readers and gave examples of several colleagues who do so successfully. In their comments, others stated that this technique portrays the newsletter writer as approachable and genuine. The author is someone to connect to and with whom you might want to do business.

Frankly, I disagree. One need not be a curmudgeon to recognize that day-to-day details from newsletter writers’ lives are of limited interest to many readers.

If there is a lesson to be learned from an experience with a restaurant, salesperson or online resource, then yes! Everyone appreciates hands-on advice of a step to take or a pitfall to avoid. We can all take a leaf from someone else’s playbook.

As in most business communication, newsletters are not about ME the consultant or WE the company. They are about YOU, where YOU is the reader, whether a current customer, referral source or prospective client.

An accomplished newsletter writer will remain focused on the reader and how the content will ultimately help the subscriber in one of these ways: SAVE TIME, SAVE MONEY or MAKE MORE MONEY.

Earlier this month, I led a workshop on newsletters and addressed the relationship with readers succinctly: A subscriber’s attention is yours to lose. I stressed that point and repeated it a few times for emphasis, as I do here: A subscriber’s attention is yours to lose. Think about how much work it took to get that person to sign up for the newsletter. Consider the effort expended to keep them engaged and so inspired they will actually share those tips and ideas with people in their circle.

Now, why would anyone jeopardize that relationship by offering material a reader may find irrelevant, leading to a delete or unsubscribe?

Finally, no one is interested in reading the reason a newsletter skipped several issues is because the writer broke a wrist, was busy with client work or had to care for an ailing family member.

How many people wake up in in the morning and think, Gee, I haven’t heard from Janet Falk in ages. I wonder what she is doing. Only one and she is my mother.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Give subscribers insightful ideas, actionable tactics and, above all, respect for their valuable time. In return, they will continue to open, read and forward informative newsletters.

Please, don’t get too personal.

Janet Falk provides Public Relations and Marketing Communications services to law firms, consultants and small businesses that want to attract new clients and retain customers. She helps nonprofit organizations generate media coverage to drive attendance to their events and supporters to their cause. For more information, please visit her website and her LinkedIn profile

  • More in: content marketing, email marketing, email newsletters, Self-Promotion

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