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Edition 12

Trust me, stories are the answer ...

The gorgeous and way too fashionable for a daggy mum like me shoulder bag I got for my birthday last year recently had a very unwelcome visitor.

I bet you’ve heard a million jokes about women’s handbags and the amount of very important things (or stuff!!) they carry around in them.

Well I’m here to tell you that what happened to me and my new bag recently was no laughing matter.

Over-sized bags are apparently pretty fashionable at the moment (And you thought you had nothing to learn from this E-newsletter?) which suits me just fine since as the mum of Ashlyn, 3, and Lucas, 18 months, I need to carry a lot of stuff.

After every outing I spend a good few minutes emptying my bag of half eaten rice cracker packets, muesli bar wrappers and old wipes and tissues used to clean hands and faces along the way.

Then I sling my bag onto the stairs near our front door ready to be packed up again the next morning for another adventure.

On this particular day, somewhere between the two weeks of mayhem in our house that is Ashlyn’s birthday and Christmas, I was feeling pretty busy and maybe just a little harassed.

So I chucked my bag on the stairs thinking I’d clean it out later.

Course, later didn’t actually happen ‘til the next morning.

When I went to pick up my bag in preparation for another outing I was surprised to see one lonely rice cracker sitting on the stair beside it.

Seemed a bit odd, couldn’t remember the kids hanging around my bag at all that morning.


A little curious I started picking bits and pieces out of the top and recognised with horror the little signs of nibbling on the half a fruit bar I pulled out, then the rest of the rice crackers.

It pains me to admit that the old beach house we’ve been renovating in our seaside village of Binningup, Western Australia does attract the odd mouse – and not the style of Brown Mouse featured in my logo who I like to think is an attractive mixture of cool and cute.

In the days leading up to this moment we’d caught a few in our traps of the type who are more a mixture of EEEEEEEEE and UUUUUUUUU!!!

Anyways, back to my bag, and my hands are now trembling as I fish everything out one piece at a time in manner of husband changing nappy, trying not to get a single atom of baby poo on himself.

I pull out the last spare t-shirt and Yep, there it is. A little brown mouse staring right back at me.

Next thing I’m dancing around on the front lawn (much to the amusement of two blokes across the street working on my neighbour’s new limestone retaining wall), hanging my bag upside down as far away from my body as my arms will allow, waiting for my intruder to drop out.

He (or she) did and scurried away in the blink of an eye.

I have not been able to look at my astonishingly beautiful mocha Guess bag the same way since.

Pretty good story don’t you think?

That dear reader, is one very vital ingredient when it comes to developing your own E-newsletter.

Before you try to argue with me here’s some facts you just can’t ignore.

It’s just about impossible for you to sell anything to a potential customer unless they trust you. People do business with other people they know, people they like and people they trust.

Personal stories that demonstrate you are a real human being are an extremely effective tool for building trust.

And before you say it, which I know you’re about to because almost every prospective client I’ve ever discussed my E-newsletter with has done, No! Don’t ignore the power of story-telling because you think readers of your E-newsletter are too busy to read something so long-winded.

Do you clients or customers read the paper? Watch television? Surf the net? Go running? Spend time in the garden? Of course.

The fact is we’re all busy but if something is valuable to us, we’ll make time for it.

Read that again because I’ve just handed you the keys to the universe of successful E-newsletters.

We’re all busy but if something is valuable to us, we’ll make time for it.

Make your E-newsletter valuable to your readers. It’s a topic you’ve heard me rabbit on about a million times before.

But today’s edition is about using stories to build trust so here’s my tips to get you started.

Stories don’t have to be funny! Your stories should reflect who you are. A software developer friend of mine doesn’t have a funny bone in his body so creating an E-newsletter for him that cracks jokes just wouldn’t sound like him – wouldn’t be authentic.

Use lots of details to make your stories more believable. Notice my use of “half eaten rice cracker packets”, “stairs by the front door” and “neighbour’s new limestone retaining wall”. All of this detail helps ignite your reader’s imagination. They can imagine a similar situation happening to themselves and they make a connection with you.

Open your story with a line that sounds just a bit crazy but drops your reader right into the guts of the story to the point where they just can’t resist reading on.

Write your story down or type it out so it sounds exactly the same as it would if you were telling a bunch of friends over a plate of barbecue sausages. Note my use of spoken word language like “Yep”, “’til” and “poo”. All stuff I actually say!

Here’s the bottom line.

The vast majority of people don’t care how long you’ve been in business, how much experience you’ve got, how many certificates you’ve got on your wall or how many awards you’ve won.

They just want to know if they can trust you.

Give them the chance to make that call by getting to know you over a period of time with a permission-based E-newsletter starring authentic, personal stories.

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

© Copyright 2008 Brown Mouse Communications

All rights reserved. You may reproduce this article by including this copyright and if reproducing electronically, including a link to

Check out our previous editions

Why not check out some of the previous editions of Mouse Mail!