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I’ll get right to the point: For the past six months, I’ve been trying to cancel the water delivery to my office – but I just can’t do it.
Not only has the price kept going up, but they've installed a real kitchen in my office building. I’m no longer faced with having to refill my water glass in the men’s room, a fallback option that always struck me as a bad idea.
Now, there’s a kitchen right down the hall, outfitted with a real sink and access to all the cold water you could ever want.
But I still haven’t picked up the phone and cancelled. You know why? It’s because the guy who delivers my water is so damn friendly.
No matter how cold or hot it is outside, no matter how many of those heavy containers he’s got on his back, the man never stops smiling and he’s never too busy to stop and chat.
The funny thing is, if six years ago, the people at Poland Spring had tried to sell me on the concept of water delivery by highlighting how friendly their truck drivers were, I would have laughed in their soggy faces.
But now, and despite a cheaper, more convenient option, it’s the reason I’m still a customer.
Guess what – your E-Newsletter works the same way.
No stranger signs up because they want to get to know you better – they don’t care about you. Or your dog. Or your kids.
They come for the water, or the useful information and a solution to their problems.
But along the way, and if all goes well, a funny thing happens: They get attached to you as an individual.
Sure, you still need to give them the information they come for. But over time, the differentiator – the stickiness that holds their attention and makes them think twice about moving on – is the human being who delivers the product.
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What’s that mean for your newsletter? I can think of at least two things:
#1: You need to tell stories and share personal tidbits when you write.
I know, I know, your brother-in-law with the MBA warned you of the dangers of appearing “unprofessional.”
The thing is, appearing unprofessional is a much smaller and less likely to occur problem than the big one you already have: The information you possess, within your field of expertise, is no different than that of your competitors. Everybody is selling the same water.
When you tell stories and share personal information, on the other hand, you become my delivery man. I see you as a human being. A likeable expert, if you will.
#2: You need to write the way you talk.
Uh oh, here comes the brother-in-law again. But here as well, your readers can’t make a personal connection with someone who says things like, “we have a proven track record of supercalifragilized best practice stakeholder solutions.”
Big companies get this. Their ads use words that are clear and simple. They understand that common, everyday language is what builds connection. And connection is what helps people buy. Why else would they hire a British lizard to try and sell you insurance?
You, happily, don’t need a lizard. As a solo professional, you’ve already got an authentic, friendly, human voice, sitting right there below your nose. Time to start using it.
Here’s the bottom line. Humans like to do business with other humans. We like to connect, we like to chat, we like to smile, we like to shake hands.
Yes, we need to do business as we go.
But if you can figure out a way to deliver a friendly bit of yourself alongside every gallon of useful water, you’ll keep people coming back for more, even when they’re faced with cheaper, more convenient options.
Give my best to your brother-in-law.
Michael Katz is a Boston-based marketing consultant and founder of Blue Penguin Development. He specializes in developing email newsletters for professional service firms. Download a free copy of his latest book, "It Sure Beats Working: 29 Quirky Stories and Practical Business Lessons for the First-Time, Mid-Life, Solo Professional," when you subscribe to his free, twice-monthly newsletter here.