How to Write A Newsletter – Forget About Useful Content, Write Stuff They’ll Read

by John McIntyre

When I was 16 years old I worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken with my best friend, Andy.

Andy was a fun kid, but he was the type that your parents would groan when you would hang out with him. It seemed like he was always into mischief and trouble.

Or maybe it was me that was the bad influence. Who can remember 20 years ago?

In any case, our KFC had a drive through window. Inside the restaurant we had headsets. You push a button and talk with the customer outside in their car in walkie-talkie fashion. Simple as that.

Well, one night the Assistant Manager, Fernando, was talking with us.

He pointed to the headsets we were wearing and said, “Hey guys, you know those headsets work over at the Taco Bell, right?”

And then he walked away.

I’ll ask you a very simple question: What are two mischievous 16 year olds supposed to do when they get information like that?

The next night found Andy and I hiding in the bushes outside Taco Bell.

We had snatched a headset from KFC and we were ready to test some theories on what type of communication is most effective.

In drives car number one.

Inside the Taco Bell employee asks, “Welcome to Taco Bell, what can I get you?”

Person in car- “I’d like a beef soft taco…”

Time for our experiment…

Andy hit the button to interrupt the flow of communication and asked, “Would you like us to spit in that taco for you?”

The person in the car was confused. An exclamation of budding anger came from the car. From our vantage point we could see the person in the car starting to get angry and lean out of the car towards the microphone as he was starting to yell.

Andy hit the button again, “Relax, sir. Pull up to the window and we can shove the taco in your face for you.”

Screeching tires let us know he was going to take his complaint to the pick up window.

The next car pulled in, unawares of what had just happened.

This time it was my turn.

I battled the Taco Bell employee for time on the headset and had a pretty similar conversation with the car behind. They quickly hit the gas to go up to the window to have their words face-to-face as well.

It was about this time that the police showed up and our little experiment was done.

(Editorial Note: Please don’t judge us too harshly. If you know any 16 year old boys I can guarantee you every one of them would do something like this given the opportunity.)

But my 16 year old mind was able to get a great marketing lesson from this.

I learned very quickly that in the battle of competing communication the voice that is more disruptive, more unexpected, even more entertaining is likely the one that will win.

It’s this lesson that I use when I’m writing newsletters for my business.

I started my dog training business over a decade ago at the age of 25. I had been studying every marketing guru I could find back then so I knew to grow an email list.

And I emailed that list with newsletters just like the gurus told me to do.

I would write articles about dog training topics that were well thought out. I would give helpful tips and information. I would do how-to spots.

In other words, I provided a ton of excellent content in my email newsletters.

What was the result?

Next to nothing. My newsletters would rarely get sales, the open rates were minuscule, and they had almost no impact.

But a big shift happened a few years ago. I decided to simply be entertaining in my newsletters.

I took stories from my life that were interesting or funny or entertaining. I would simply tell the story and then somehow relate it to a dog training principle at the end and then make an offer. Exactly like I did at the beginning of this article.

I send out one to two newsletters a week now. You want to know the results? I’ve seen three main results:

1– I sell something EVERY time I send out a newsletter. Sometimes it’s related to the offer and sometimes it’s not.

When it’s not related to the offer the reason I get the sale is simply because I’m staying in front of the prospect and staying interesting.

2– Our referrals are way up. WAY up. We’ve alway had good referrals because we do a good job.

But you know how it is.

A service provider does something good for you, you like them, but as time goes on you think about them less and refer to them less.

But when I’m in their inbox every week and they get used to seeing me there I maintain a small slice of their subconscious. It becomes VERY easy to refer to the guy who you liked and who stays at the top of awareness with funny stories and interesting anecdotes.

3– We get way more repeat business.

If you’ve studied marketing you know the only three ways to grow a business are to: get more customers, get higher ticket values, or get customers to buy from you more often.

It’s not as easy as you would think to get people to buy from you over and over.

Just because someone likes you and what you do doesn’t mean that they’re instantly remembering you each time they’ve got a need.

Staying in front of them tomorrow, next month, next year, and five years from now is a virtual guarantee that you’ll get more repeat business.

I don’t know anyone that’s going to continually open and read educational emails, no matter how much they need education.

I do know, however, that people will continue to open entertaining emails as long as you stay in their inbox.

This is a copywriting for dummies guest post by Ty Brown. Ty tripled his business in two and a half years using stories and storytelling. Now he speaks, writes,  coaches, and consults with other businesses on how to do the same. Find him at Ty the Speaker.

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