Lessons learned: blog tactics for e-newsletters.
I’m writing this in the wake of ClickZ’s first Weblog Business Strategies Conference, which I chaired. The purpose of the conference, as the first one ever to address the business aspects of Weblogs (a.k.a. blogs), was to find out how corporations can benefit from the best of what blogs are all about.
I have to tell, the event did not disappoint. It was wild and wooly, controversial and calm, knowledge sharing and taking, all rolled into one. We were lucky enough to have some of the best blog minds in the business -- Dave Winer, David Weinberger, Jason Shellon, Tony Perkins, Doc Searls -- and many more speakers and attendees who made it into a fabulous event. (For a summary, our blog is here.)
I learned a lot I want to share with you... starting with this thought:
Crossing the Chasm... Again
Geoffrey Moore, in his book "Crossing the Chasm," talks about the gap between early and mainstream markets. That’s kind of where we are now, with blogs and business. It’s a chasm, but it won’t last long.
The quickest way to build a bridge is to understand blogs and the unique characteristics they can offer businesses. Tony Perkins of AlwaysOn called the current blog thought leaders a "cult," and Christopher Lydon formerly of National Public Radio said these folks were often "too techie" and (among other things) "rude." As true as those comments may be, we newsletter publishers have a lot to learn from the blogosphere:
Dare to Cross
By now you’re probably saying, "Forget it, this is a chasm neither I nor my company are crossing!" Yes, it may be unrealistic to think your newsletter would ever share any of these traits, at least in their purest form. But look at the underlying lessons. Corporations large and small pride themselves on creating an image bigger than life. Along the way, we’ve lost touch with not only ourselves but also the people we communicate with. If companies don’t move toward authenticity, personal voice, passion, freer speech, truth, and reality, they’ll continue to loose touch with customers.
Do you dare start your company down this path? Can you find someone in your company who’s passionate? Who has true, unedited knowledge to share? Maybe you’re not ready to go out in the world with a full-fledged blog, but at least give this person voice in the form of a column with at last two or three blog characteristics. Let this person reach out and touch your customers in a new way. See what the response is like. Your newsletter readers will welcome the freshness and reward you with renewed interest -- in not only your newsletter but also your company.
I dare you. Try it, and let me know how you’re doing.
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Kathleen Goodwin is the former CEO of IMN (formerly iMakeNews), specializing in customer acquisition and retention through permission-based e-newsletters. For nine years, she was vice president of marketing for Ziff-Davis' publishing division, where she oversaw the marketing of all print publications and their early online siblings. She also serves as an advisor to early-stage companies and has been responsible for several successful new-business launches.
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