Most brands have some form of newsletter to connect with customers. But for many brands, more emphasis is placed on getting people to sign up than on giving them a reason to sign up.
Last week David Hieatt, founder of Hiut Denim and the Do Lectures gave a workshop in London on the power of the humble email newsletter. I didn’t go to the workshop, but how he described it got me thinking about this often overlooked communication tool:
“In terms of using social media to grow your business, we are all looking for the next new platform or app. We want to find that magic ‘Multiplier’ that gets our story out to the world…
“A great newsletter can do that. And yet most people ignore it, dismiss it, or if they use it, use it poorly. Yet, this tool, in the right hands, is as powerful as they come…
“I am fascinated by the power of a simple newsletter to grow a business. I am also fascinated that most businesses don’t pay much attention to theirs. It’s an afterthought. A poor cousin.
“But when done right, they become something else. With a strategy, with a simple methodology, they become one of the most effective tools in your digital toolbox. They build community. They build your brand. And they relentlessly build long-term growth. They are pure and utter gold.”
Hiut Denim’s “Scrapbook Chronicles” newsletter is one of the few that I actually read. They send it out every one to three weeks. This would seem like a high frequency to read about denim. But it’s not about denim. It’s about creativity. They think about their jeans as the “uniform of the creative man and woman.” So their newsletter is ultimately about helping those creative people be more creative. And in following that goal, over time the newsletter helps them sell more denim.
A few years ago, David wrote about newsletters in the context of the role of a brand as an editor:
“The job of the editor is to edit. This is one busy world. Attention is what you are after. But time is what no one seems to have. If you want people to spend time, their precious limited time, reading your darn newsletter, it’d better be good. So you need to spend a ton of time on it. Find new things. Find old things. Find amazing things. Put the hours in. Get known for finding great likeminded stuff. As their trusted editor, it is your job to find ‘the gold’ on their behalf. So they don’t have to.”
I like the construct of brands as trusted editors finding “the gold” on behalf of their audience. That editor model gives purpose to having a newsletter in the first place. And differentiates from the rest of the noise.
Here’s another cartoon I drew a few years ago about brand newsletters.
5 CommentsJoin the Discussion
Carlos Sicilia says
Totally agree with the simplicity focus. I already love your work, Tom. But I love it still more cause I’m TOTALLY sure you will NEVER come up with a flashy brand new Marketoonist App for iOs and Android, right, Tom? Haha! I hope so! Best regards from Caracas, Venezuela! God bless you! : )
Richard Warland says
Showing my age Tom, but I wonder why this even needs to be stated…
…but I am a dinosaur who comes from an age when marketing copy was interesting and persuasive!
And Strategy too! 🙂 Don’t worry, Richard. There is a Get-your-fundamentals-right movement coming. P&G focusing on his big brands and selling accessory ones, Digital investment ratio decreasing vs ATL, and P&G, Unilever and Google getting together to clean up the ad ineffective mess on the web… All is needed now, is a bit of training Vs Gadgetry … 🙂
Adam Rogers says
Nice article and great cartoon as always. You are of course 100% right that the motives and intentions of most newsletters are focused purely on the company and company goals. One shift in attitude I try to emphasise to my clients is this; ‘don’t produce content to help you achieve something, produce content to help your customers achieve something’. You don’t want to ‘trick’ someone into doing something, you just want to help customers do whatever it is they want to do.
Love visiting your site every week.
Jennifer Nelson says
You, David Hieatt, and Adam Rogers (great client guidance Adam!) are all right on… and I love to look at examples for inspiration. So in case any other readers do too, here’s a couple: Moo does a solid job with their newsletter, and if you get home delivery of dollar shave club razor heads, you’ll find inside a hard copy newsletter (seemingly intended for reading while on the john), that is clearly created in the spirit of brand as editor/curator, finding gold.