Give me plain over pretty

I watched the movie Capote this weekend.

(Actually, to tell the truth, I fell asleep halfway through. I always do. Never seen the end of a movie.)


Playing Truman Capote was the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. It’s a terrific performance.

One of the things I liked most about Hoffman is that he was not cast out of the same mold as many Hollywood actors. He was not flashily good looking. Indeed, some might say he was not good looking at all.

So that means he had to get by with his acting skills. Which he had in abundance.

In a world dominated by looks, it’s good to see someone who triumphed with talent.

His untimely death was a great loss to the world of entertainment.

I was making notes recently about how your print newsletter should look. (It’s for the chapter on print newsletters for a book my editor and I are putting together – should be available early next year.)

And one of the things I said was that your newsletter doesn’t have to be beautifully designed.

Indeed, it’s often better if it’s not.

Think about this: which is the mail you read, and which is the mail you trash?

I would bet that you read all the letters that look like letters; the mail that appears like it has something important in it.

And you trash much of what looks like promotional material.

Now, I’m not saying that your newsletter should look like the dog wrote it. But I am saying that you don’t need to spend time making it look like a glossy magazine. Unless you are in certain markets where looks are the whole deal, making your newsletter extremely pretty will probably do you more harm than good.

That’s why the newsletters we make are a little plain.

They’re actually designed that way deliberately.

Because that’s what makes them more effective.