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The Reliance on Newsletters : mix the media to build relationships


Every Christmas we used to get a letter from a particular family we knew. We knew them for a short while but we or they moved away. Now we know everything about them. Little Johnny grew up from grubby kid to smelly teenager to monosyllabic student and finally techie guru in a local media company. His sister “Angelica” morphed from squeaky clean to beauty queen to Uni all-star and finally power ranger in cosmetics for the sassy lassy. Mum and Dad proudly described it all in weekly detail. Each and every week of it. Christmas letters to lose your religion over.
Over the years we readers of THE Christmas letter went through a rainbow of emotions. To start, we were in awe. How could one family do all this in one year? How inadequate did we feel? But as the years slipped by and THE Christmas letter continued to land year on year we passed through awe to disbelief, numbed indifference and hysterical screaming. We even tried sending our own letters back – a sort of Tamiflu – hoping that a dose of their own infection would stop the thud on the doormat of THE Christmas letter.
Now don’t get me wrong. We love Christmas letters......from family and close friends. And here’s the rub: if we are not particularly engaged with the letter writer, who is benefitting? The reader or the author? It’s a key question that affects many businesses.
By what quirk of fate did Christmas letters morph into company e-newsletters? I have no idea, but I’d use Superman to turn back time and redirect fate.
I’d love to know how many company newsletters are actually read and valued by the audience. Each pronounces: “if you want to unsubscribe just email back saying “STOP””. Some of us do, but most of us don’t do we? Why....because we might miss something. Yet every month we get irritated by having it proven to us that no indeed we have missed nothing once again, except of course the opportunity to “STOP” a month earlier.
There is a serious point here. In a world of easy to write and send e-newsletters, it’s easy to think your building relationships. But we should be careful, e-newsletters can become as unwanted as e-mails if they don’t add value to the receiver. The key is to use them appropriately and in a concerted manner, reflective of the audiences’ needs not the author’s.
Recently I met a company that gives clients with the ability to develop and host high quality film messages on the clients’ websites: effectively transforming simple websites into all-singing, all-dancing media centres. You may say this is not isn’t conceptually.... but the sheer quality (hi definition), the speed (hours not days), the flexibility (your imagination is the limit) and the ridiculously low cost, open up incredible opportunities for how companies communicate on line and support their sales processes. We need to use them carefully to avoid the overload seen with e-newsletters.
So the issue is not what is technically possible but what is customer relevant. Content and style needs to match the brand of the company, its products and the expectations and media consumption habits of its customers. As we come out of this recession it’s a great time to look at how technology can increase your marketing effectiveness and how you can use it to improve your selling processes to existing and new customer groups.
I have probably received twenty of THE Christmas letters, sent every year consistently and with (historical) affection. However, I don’t feel positively involved. But I have learned not to forget what THE Christmas letter author forgot: there are a lot of other ways of keeping in touch. Mixing the media adds relevance and humanity... humanity builds relationships... relationships develop trust... and trust drives business. Use the technology to complement humanity in building business relationships . Just because you can send an e-newsletter doesn’t mean it’s the only thing to do.