‘Bore me and I block you’ – how to make your newsletters interesting

About a year ago I got really into Twitter. Maybe a little too much into it. Huge timesuck. I'm still on it, but I ration myself. Now I waste time on Facebook. But I tell yer – it's rough and tough in the Twitterverse! Some people on there really work it. They post many times…

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Newsletters: the bar is pretty low. Really.

I got a call on Tuesday from someone who is thinking of joining my newsletter service for real estate agents. She's been receiving emails from me (not these, but others you can sign up for on my websites.) But she said something that disconcerted me. "The information is great, but it's kind of putting me…

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How to Get Your Newsletter Articles Read – the Easy Way

"Service journalism" is the reliable older sister of the newspaper world. If it wore clothes, it would wear a cardigan. With pockets. It sure ain't glamorous. There are no scoops (such as they are these days), and there are no celebrity interviews or witty columns. Service journalism is the simple reporting of stuff that's useful,…

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Why Some Businesses Succeed and Some Don’t

A bit of a rant this morning. Here's the thing. There are no doubt lots of businesses sitting around complaining right now. The economy's bad, customers are gone – and when customers do call, all they want is the cheapest price. And then there are others that are doing just fine. What's the difference? Hear…

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How to Be Like Oprah

I got the shock of my life on the internet last night. There on my favorite news website was a big, blue headline: "Oprah Talk Show Going Off Air." Now, I know she had Sarah Palin on this week, but it can't have been that bad. I thought Oprah was stronger than that. +++ Turns…

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The Perils of Newsletter Personalization

Yesterday I received a Facebook "be my friend" request. It went like this: "$Name$$, Facebook considered you as a friend. I enjoy meeting like minded people, hope you feel the same." Personalization is a wonderful thing. And so is technology. Mix them and you have a powerful cocktail – or a recipe for disaster. +++…

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When 1 + 1 = 3

As someone smart enough to be reading this blog, you know math. So that means you understand that: 1 + 1 = 3 And 1 + 1 + 1 = 9 And 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = a-heck-of-a-lot This isn't some kind of wacky math. It's the power of groups. They work…

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The trouble with ‘newsletters’

I hate it when people ask me the question: So what is it you do? A cocktail of adrenaline and tears rushes through my veins. Do I give my pitch speech? "I help businesses build profitable, long-term relationships with their clients." That often works only in an elevator. Or do I just come out and…

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The efficient newsletter article

The chicken has 11 parts, I was told with huge authority by the 16-year-old KFC employee. That was why I would receive only two breasts – the rest of my order would be made up of the other nine parts of chicken. I guess that's fair, although I've wondered ever since what constituted that odd…

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Beware the Apostrophist – Your Newsletter and Those Pesky Typos

I'm glad the Apostrophist doesn't read this blog. He'd beafter me with his big, black Sharpie – and I'd be introuble. More about this grammar vigilante in a sec. The thing is, when I re-read one of these messages a day ortwo after I've posted it, I always spot a typo or seven. That makes…

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Newspaper columns, 17 kumquats, and a famous ‘you’

If you think some movie stars are prima donnas ("I requested 17 polished kumquats in the scarlet dish, not 16, not 18, you imbecile! You're fired!"), then you haven't met a newspaper columnist. There's something about being charged will filling ten inches of virgin newsprint each week that does horrible things to the ego. Newspaper…

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The Vatican’s Astronomer

If you read the title of this post, you might have had the same two questions that popped into my head when I first heard about the Vatican's astronomer. First, I didn't know that the Vatican had an astronomer. And second: What is the Vatican doing with an astronomer anyway? Then maybe you had a…

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The dilemma of the trusted advisor

Last Friday I went to see my accountant. Then I walked next door to visit my lawyer. I would have seen my doctor too – to get the full triumvirate and 200 extra frequent flier miles – but I had an appointment with him the week before. I like seeing my professional advisors. They know…

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Email Newsletter Open Rates – and Your Mother

If you sent an email to your mother, would she open it? Probably. (I know a good Freudian analyst for those who said no.) That's the point I make to clients when they question me about email newsletter open rates. The second thing I ask is: how can you make your newsletter as relevant to…

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A bear in the kitchen and your local newsletter

Most summers, the Haliburton Echo carries a story that goes something like this: A local homeowner wakes to the sound of crashing and rustling. On going to investigate, she discovers a large black bear – its head buried in a box of cornflakes. So with great derring-do, the homeowner shoos the bear out of her…

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Arrogant newspapers, upstarts in t-shirts, and the practice of resilience

If I owned stock in one of GPS companies – like Garmin or Magellan – I'd be crying into my cup holders right now. Why? Because Google has moved into the neighborhood with a better, cooler sat nav system for cell phones. Oh, and it's free. Notice how this kind of thing seems to happen…

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The David Beckham of Punctuation

Next time you're planning to book the Kennedy Center for a stand-up comedy show, remember one thing: you can use the F-word a maximum of 41 times. This isn't my observation, of course. It belongs to comic Lewis Black, who says he wasn't allowed to record an HBO special at the venue because someone at…

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The Newsletter Audacity of Hope

Today is the first anniversary of Barack Obama's election victory. Now don't worry. I'm not going to launch a political rant about President Obama's qualities – or lack of them. But you remember his slogan: Yes We Can. It's often said that the two most powerful motivators are fear and hope. Just think of all…

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The Freedom to Choose Sweeping Leaves

The other day I spent two hours sweeping up leaves. Now, as anyone who knows anything about running a business would say: that's a dumb thing for an entrepreneur to do. After all, I could have paid a student $30 to do that and instead invest the time making more money for my business. Indeed,…

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Worst Parking Job and a ‘Random Act of Kindness’

At risk of sounding like one of those annoying people who bombard you with links to funny and cute stuff they've found around the Internet that you've "just gotta see…" …. Well, you've just gotta see the video at the bottom of this post. But don't go there yet. Here's the story. A security video…

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