The Cardinal Sin of Newsletters

   I got a request recently from a colleague to "help us improve our newsletter." Here are a few thoughts from the ensuing conversation that should apply to everyone:

   I generally don't save back-issues of mailings... but I did find an old mailing from last fall on streetcars. Reading right to left and top to bottom, the first thing I see in both that newsletter and your letter today is the left sidebar, which is a pitch for your company... in this case, "Experienced Design Professionals," and previously "We Can Enhance Your Home Designs." Being perpetually short of bandwidth, I'm always scanning the first few words of a document to see whether it's something useful for me. If it is, I'll read more. If not, I stop there.

   So when I scan both of these and see that it's a mailing from a friend apparently pitching their services, I quickly conclude that because our relationship is that of colleagues rather than designer-client, it's probably not going to contain information that's useful to me... and so I put it away. But when I went back a minute ago and clicked to view the entire streetcar article, I find that it's excellent, and very useful!

   Unfortunately, because you embedded something useful within an apparent sales pitch, I never got to the useful stuff. I'd suggest that you reverse the sequence, and embed your sales pitch within useful stuff... let the useful stuff be the first thing that is seen. If so, then it may get forwarded broadly, carrying your sales pitch with it. But as it is, it likely gets put away quickly.

© 2012 The Guild Foundation Press