Archive for November, 2011

What is the best timing for an email marketing campaign?

November 25th, 2011

The research for this remains a bit fuzzy. Should you send weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? Do you risk losing subscribers if you send “too often”?

There are two basic types of email marketing: direct selling, and relationship building. Direct selling is, for example, those emails you get from stores like Land’s End offering free shipping and a 25% discount on everything until the end of the month. (Believe me, I know–I ordered gloves, a silk chemise, and a gorgeous burnt orange pea coat immediately–but, never mind.)

Emails focused on relationship building may have, as their larger goal, an increase in revenue, or patients or clients, but they are not seeking an immediate purchase. I’m sure you see these in your inbox from time to time. A winery, for example, may want to educate and engage readers as much as to make a lot of sales. This is partly because the world of wine itself assumes a degree of interest, knowledge, and sophistication.

A weekly email from Linen Source, or the afore-mentioned Land’s End, or another favorite, Absolute Socks, is simply an alert to the chance to buy on line. I’m not being asked to think, meditate, support a cause, or educate myself. I like the products, and I like to be reminded, and I don’t hesitate to delete–after all, the Socks people are just doing their job, right?

But to hear more than once a month from a group that is mainly building a relationship is more likely to be an annoyance than anything else. So, be careful!

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Writing elevator speeches: tips when you are in difficulty

November 22nd, 2011

Who has no difficulty coming up with a pithy, short, easily memorized elevator speech? Raise your hands! Oh, there’s one person in the back. Tell us how you arrived at your elevator speech? Your mother helped you? Really? Did she charge you anything? No, she just knows you really well! Someone else? There, under the poster of Napolean Bonaparte–tell us how you put your speech together. You paid a consultant? Wow. Was it worth it? What did this consultant do? They looked at your website and emailed a couple of choices to you? Were you happy with the results? No?

You get my drift, I hope. There’s a challenge to capturing the essence of who you are. If you are a hospital, you already have a very good mission statement, right? But if you are an individual, you need others to tell you what you see. An elevator speech is a little like the answer to the question, Who am I? It touches on a part of you that may not show up in your financials. That’s why an elevator speech should never be written only by one person.

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How to write elevator speeches (more)

November 17th, 2011

I don’t think just one person can write an elevator speech. You need the back and forth of a group (and a little wine or some other relaxant even if it’s just iced tea) because the other members either know you, or are getting to know you and have observations and perspectives that will enrich the speech.

Remember than an elevator speech is a very brief statement, with a subject, verb, object, and some prepositional phrases (e.g. “I compose music for high school marching bands.”

You need, absolutely, to start with phrases, nouns, verbs. If you try to start by constructing a perfect sentence, forget it. Your focus will be on the words, not the ideas. So do a lot with post-its, or a big piece of paper that you write phrases and ideas on. At the start, you are looking for emotions, the feelings that tell you whether you are on to something or not.

Throw things up in the air and see how your colleague, team member, feels about them. If he or she says “No absolutely not that is not me,” respect that and move on.

When you feel like you are starting to see a sentence emerge, read it out loud and see how everyone reacts. Then go back to the beginning again.

Next time: When you run into obstacles.

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How and why to write elevator speeches

November 14th, 2011

About a year ago my five beloved business round table colleagues and I spent an evening in a cottage on Falmouth (that’s on Cape Cod for those of you not yet in the know) and with a bottle of white wine we hunkered down and produced elevator speeches for each of us.

Now I have to say that I had always turned up my nose a bit at the concept of an elevator speech. Superficial! No substance! (What a snob.) And at the same time, I see now, I was having a tough time capturing in a few words the essence of what my work is about.

One of us took notes, all of us drank, and we went back and forth, coming up with words and phrases, rejecting and accepting them, until we were all satisfied. And then, we had to memorize them! And we still test each other: “So what exactly do you do for a living?”

It was an evening to remember.

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One more thing about footnotes in newsletters

November 10th, 2011

(Can you imagine that there is actually more to say?) There is a place for footnotes if you want to be humorous–the Talking Back Footnote. This is the one in which, instead of dryly giving the source for a quote or bit of data, the footnote makes its own comment, takes on a life of its own. I first saw this 100 years ago in an essay by Brooks Atkinson, who wrote much about Ralph Waldo Emerson and produced a very funny and argumentative dialogue between the footnotes and the author.

But really, how much more can you say about footnotes and newsletters? My advice is, 99 percent of the time stay away from them.

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Do footnotes have a place in newsletters?

November 7th, 2011

You remember footnotes, right? Those funny little small font bits of information at the end of the page, or the end of the article, giving credit to sources, offering URLs for further study of the data. I write articles for one member magazine which must have footnotes; for another, footnotes are verboten. What about a newsletter, though? Can you imagine a style in which footnotes would enhance the message?

As always, it has to do with your content and your audience! Are you a foreign auto repair shop? Nothing scholarly about you, right? Your own expertise is enough of a source. But if you are a medical devices start-up, presenting data to make the case for your latest design, perhaps footnotes will enhance your message. Think about it.

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I take back what I said about personal information in bios

November 3rd, 2011

All right, all right, I’m sorry. But I have to admit that there is still another angle on personal information. I’ve been arguing that what ever you say about yourself should be relevant in some way to the client’s interests: the favorite wine of a wine purveyor, the dermatologist’s interest in clothing for the beach, the physical therapist who loves cross-country skiing.

But, what if the purpose of your bio is, in part, to convey the culture of your business or clinic? Is it important for your clients to know how lively, funny, quick off the mark you are? Then, you might want to do this not only with your tone (short sentences, exclamation marks, witty observations) but also with some oddball facts: Your creative director eats broccoli pizza for breakfast or your accountant’s favorite comic is (was) George Carlin.

In other words, facts like these say “Here’s what it’s like to be with us–we’re an energetic, humorous bunch–in addition to all our impressive credentials.

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