In previous articles, I’ve said that you should take care to set reader expectations right up front, and don’t violate those. That supposes you know what you’re going to send them.
You know how you roll your eyes when some business sends you a stupid April Fools joke, and you’re tempted to hit the “This is Spam” button? That’s because you allowed them to put your address on their list because you were interested in their service or product, and a lame joke (no matter the date) doesn’t fit that expectation — so it’s irritating. So make sure you’re clear on what you’re going to send, and stick to your plan.
First, it’s important to send something at least monthly. You don’t want your readers to forget you or forget that they signed up to hear from you regularly. So touch base on a schedule — and that schedule is part of the expectations you should be setting. Yes, it’s OK to say up front that they’ll hear from you “once or twice a month” or “two or three times a week” should that be appropriate for what you’re doing. It doesn’t have to be clockwork, but there should be an idea in mind.
And this doesn’t mean you can’t have a special event where you send a burst of emails, such as in a product launch. The bottom line is whether that’s a natural and normal thing for your audience, or something completely different from what’s expected by that audience.
But What to Send in General?
So many entrepreneurs don’t want to start a list because they’re “not writers” and don’t think they can write compelling, entertaining copy. And that’s truly dumb. For just about any business, email is the most effective — and cost-effective — marketing you can do. If you’re too small to hire a writer (think about how many experienced newspaper writers and editors are looking for work these days!), then get utilitarian.
Like what? If you run a restaurant:
Happy Monday from Café Snooty!
Chef Jimmy got in some beautiful pork this morning for our spectacular pulled pork sandwich. Our special this week is the margarita pizza. If you’re limited on time for lunch, remember you can call ahead so it’s ready when you arrive. Click here to navigate to our Main Street location on Google Maps.
Café Snooty, 1234 Main Street, Yourtown. 505-555-1234
And yeah, the name and location and phone should be included in every email for retail sites. Don’t worry about it being repetitive: keep it at the bottom so it’s out of the way — but there for those who need it.
If you run an online store:
Blue Widgets are back in stock at Example.com!
There’s been quite a run on the Blue Widget, so our crews have been working overtime to ensure you can get all you need. Red remains popular, and is 10 percent off this week at this link. And Blue, which has been in short supply world-wide? Well, we have them! And we’re letting you know first because you signed up for our newsletter. Go direct to [this link] to order, and overnight shipping is available. Coming new next month: Green! We’ll let you know when they come in.
If you run a non-profit:
The Main Street Soup Kitchen served 683 meals last week! Food supplies are good, thanks to a terrific donation of pork butt from Café Snooty. Thursdays continue to be short staffed, since the volunteers from Example.com have a staff meeting every Thursday evening. If you can help serve the hungry any Thursday (you don’t have to commit to every week!), please call Marie direct at 555-2324 to get on the schedule.
Please tell your friends, and thanks so much.
Main Street Soup Kitchen, 1236 Main Street (right across from Café Snooty), Yourtown. Your donations are tax deductible: see [this page] for more.
Get the idea? Short, sweet, to the point. It’s not rocket science: it doesn’t take a lot of effort to write a short paragraph, and you know what you want to accomplish this week. Change it up from message to message so that it’s something new and helpful. Which brings us to…
There’s an Overriding Rule that Always, Always Dictates
Whatever you send, and this is the Overriding Rule for every email you send, is encompassed by this acronym: WIIFM? Which is, What’s In It For Me? Because this is the vital key: This isn’t about you, it’s about your customer — every time. Every time. Every time.
Yeah, it’s an issue for you that your supplier delivered double the pork butt you ordered, but that’s your problem, not your readers’ problem. So when you send out the email, keep in mind: What’s in it for them? In this case, maybe it’s a special on pork sandwiches — something of interest to your customers, rather than crying about your problems. Your customers only want your emails because they want something from you, and it’s up to you to figure out what that is, and deliver it to them every time. They have their own problems, and don’t care about yours. (Can you help solve their problems? That’s golden. Can you help them save money? Sweet. But no one wants to hear you whine.)
If you can honestly say that you’re delivering value to your customer with that email, great: send it. You don’t have to write beautiful prose (unless you have a talent for it), you don’t have to make it amusing (unless you have a talent for that), and you don’t have to make it long (your customer probably appreciates brevity — we’re all busy as hell these days). Just make sure it passes the WIIFM test and get it out there.
Are you having a hard time figuring out what to say? Pop me a note with your business niche, and I’ll see if I can give you some ideas in Part 2 (or Part 3 or…), coming later.