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Edition 1

Drop your defences, possum, for E-newsletter success

Inspiration for my E-newsletter turns up in the weirdest places and at the most inconvenient times! But before sharing this month's tips with you I must recount the following rather amusing story ...

The garden of my home in the seaside village of Binningup, Western Australia is lined along both sides with beautiful native peppermint trees. Some people hate them because they are a haven for blood hungry mosquitoes but I love 'em despite the fact my arms, legs and even ears (yeah I know!) seem to be the equivalent of chocolate in mozzie land.

It turns out the other creatures who love peppi trees are Australia's rare and endangered ring-tail possums who, it also turns out, have a bit to tell us about successful E-newsletters. As you can imagine, this all rates very highly with me.

Peppi trees do have a major drawback though. Around 11pm every night my ridiculously bouncy three-year-old cocker spaniel Holly waits in anticipation for passing possums to run along the fence so she can bark like mad. You would think the furry little mites would just keep running but no, they freeze in fright so Holly just keeps on barking until my poor husband Jayson rolls out of bed to hurry them along with a gentle broomstick near their possum bottoms.

One night though this daily summer ritual was interrupted by a possum that found itself trapped underneath our raised back deck. Holly as you would expect was barking up a storm making us very popular with the neighbours, particularly as it was 1am.

Wearing just boxer shorts and gardening gloves (huh!) Jayson attempted to rescue the possum but not feeling in a terribly grateful mood it promptly wee-ed on him before clamping down on the soft bit of skin between his thumb and forefinger. Ouch!

Despite Jayson's obvious disgust the poor possum was really only using the best defence mechanisms it had at its disposal to stop an immediate threat, from coming any closer.

Now you my patient reader might be thinking I spend way too much time pondering the subject but as my cranky husband was washing the possum wee off his arms and chest I started to think how the possum's defence mechanism related to E-newsletters.

A common question from clients when seeking to build their E-newsletter subscriber list is: "How do I stop potential readers from hitting the delete button?".

Our subjects are bombarded with more email every day than they know what to do with and their instinctive defence mechanism in dealing with it is to just hit delete, delete, delete.

But it is possible to overcome a potential reader's natural defences, halt that trigger finger and have them not only open your email, but read it, enjoy it, forward it on and regularly subscribe until one day it becomes an essential part of their life.

"How do I make my E-newsletter essential?" you're shouting at me.

Well here's the big tip you've been waiting for.

Drop your own defences and share yourself with your readers.

Share your expertise openly and willingly without any regard for what you might receive in return. Provide your readers with information they will value.

US E-newsletter guru and marketing expert Michael Katz (link to bluepenguin) says: "Biased self-promotions disguised as "information" only push prospects away. Instead, recognise that a commitment to helping people do their jobs, run their companies or live their lives better – without demanding anything in return – is a frighteningly compelling way to grow your business."

In sharing your knowledge though, don't allow the message to be lost in industry jargon and overly formal language. Writing the same simple way you speak is the tastiest recipe for communicating with your clients. A clever way to check yourself here is to read your E-newsletter out loud and if you can do it without cringing or worse still, laughing…you've done well.

Finally, add some of your own unique self into the mix. Chuck in some of those "isms" that only you can get away with saying (a good friend of mine loves calling his mates mammals?...a term of endearment he reckons!), tell anecdotes, give opinions and inject some personality. After all, there's probably a paddock of competitors who can deliver your particular service as well as you can, but only you will be the one to win the work when your client not only knows you can get the job done but comes to know and trust you as well.

Brown Mouse Communications helps small business owners build trust and win sales through high quality, individualised email newsletters.

© Copyright 2008 Brown Mouse Communications

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