Repeating repetition repeatedly isn’t necessarily a bad thing

repetition of question mark

Many people have a strong aversion to repetition. It isn’t that they can’t tolerate others repeating a message; it’s that they don’t want to risk echoing their previous efforts when developing their marketing communications materials. The concern about repetition crops up most often in planning for ongoing marketing programs, such as social media or customer … Read more

Solving the mystery: who killed our newsletter?

newsletter killed mystery

Remember when we started it? It was so exciting. The company was finally going to let customers know everything that was important. Each department had to contribute something. Management agonized for hours over the name. Sales came up with key customers to profile. The graphic designer presented a breathtaking layout. Finally, 20,000 emails arrived on … Read more

Talking to yourself is useless

One of my most successful projects began when I received an assignment to rescue a doomed newsletter for companies providing towing services to a motor club’s members. The newsletter wasn’t being read and the motor club didn’t understand why. It was full of valuable and important information, but nobody seemed to be paying attention, and … Read more


One of the lessons I learned during my ad agency days was the value of a good “swipe” file. A swipe file is simply a file (or box) where you throw ads, articles, brochures – anything you like or think is particularly effective. When you were given a tough assignment, you’d sift through the swipe … Read more


One of the many lessons I learned during my ad agency days was the importance of a good “swipe” file. Never heard the term? It’s simply a file (or box) where you threw ads, articles, brochures – anything you liked or thought was particularly effective. When you were given a tough assignment, you’d sift through the swipe … Read more


Amoco Motor Club was prepared to scrap what it had once hoped would become a powerful marketing tool. The motor club contracted with more than 7,000 service stations and towing companies to provide emergency road services to its members, and the marketing team had created a bimonthly publication called Pro Tower to convey key information to those companies. The need was urgent, because changes in automotive design were affecting the way vehicles needed to be towed, and traditional towing methods could result in damage to some models.

An advertising agency had been angling for business from the motor club, and the manager threw the newsletter out as an opportunity. If the agency could find a way to make it work (especially at a lower cost), Amoco would open the door to more projects. But prospects were bleak. A telephone survey discovered that most recipients didn’t even remember seeing the publication, and those who did invariably hated it. “It’s nothing bunch of PR about who got promoted at Amoco,” one griped. When asked what he’d rather read, he explained that he was trying to stay in business and needed serious, useful advice.

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Whether you’re distributing a regular email blast to customers or mailing a good-old-fashioned printed piece, newsletters (or whatever you choose to call a regular message to your stakeholders) are one of the best ways to stay connected with and on the minds of the people who matter to your business.

I’ve noticed that many companies agonize over one aspect of these publications: when to distribute them. And no, I don’t have a magic answer. Most of the time, exactly when you send it is far less important than the fact that you do send it. There may be a time of the week or month during which your average recipient is more receptive to your messages, so common sense would tell you that’s a good time.

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How can you supply critical information to your clients and prospects when they’re already overwhelmed with information?

The Olive LLP accounting and consulting firm (now part of BKD LLP) wanted to keep top executives at financial institutions abreast of news and provide information about new services.

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In a recent entry, I mentioned the value of a good swipe file for newsletter development. Another very handy tool is what are known as “evergreen” articles.

What’s an evergreen article? It’s simply a story that provides general information, will always be appropriate for the audience, and isn’t time-sensitive.

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