Note from Sarah: This article was originally sent via my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers receive essay style pieces like this before anyone else. Click here to subscribe!
For years, I said, “I’ve tried writing a newsletter, and it didn’t work.” Over and over I would say this. And I used it as a reason why I didn’t commit the mental bandwidth to my newsletter, even though I knew (louder for the folks in the back) that the only online marketing properties I really owned were my website and my mailing list.
What was my problem then?
1) I wasn’t really trying.
2) I didn’t have a reasonable measure for “working.”
What does this mean? Well, first of all, while I did send out newsletters, I never tried to actually find a voice and point of view for it. Which is quite ridiculous, because I’d always blogged up a storm and it’s literally the same thing. Literally literally, not figuratively literally. Not trying.
Then, I had this notion that my newsletter had to be like everyone else’s, and it had to lead to some kind of measurable link to business revenue. Which was a metric I wasn’t comfortable, but that’s what all the people said was the way to measure a newsletter’s success. Not working.
Why am I telling you all this stuff about my newsletter in my, well, newsletter? (Whoa, meta!)
It’s because I hear “I tried [marketing thing] and it didn’t work” all the time.
And, yeah, sometimes a tactic doesn’t fit your overall strategy (for example, as much as I personally enjoy Pinterest, it’s not a great tactic for my business at this time), but much of the time what I discover is that a tactic hasn’t worked for someone for a few common reasons:
They didn’t give it enough time. Blogging, for example, takes time to build trust and subsequent authority. I tell people to not even look at their metrics for a quarter after starting a content marketing campaign around blogging.
It’s a tactic they truly hate doing. Not a fan of writing? Don’t build your entire marketing strategy around writing blog content—maybe starting a podcast is a better fit for you. Be aware of what your strengths are and lean into that.
Not giving themselves permission to dedicate time each week to the marketing thing. It’s very easy to push marketing down the road, especially if you’re business with your clients/customers/supporters/whatever. My time for creating my newsletter and blog and associated promo (for example, setting up blog posts in MissingLettr) is non-negotiable.
They’re measuring the wrong thing. 🙋🏻♀️You may struggle to tie a specific revenue goal to your marketing thing. But, what you’ll may start to see if more people are using your exact language, for example, when they reach out to you. Or you experience fewer pre-sales questions because people already know because they’ve been listing. You get the picture.
Their expectations aren’t quite right. Most sustainable marketing efforts are also not particularly fast. Which kind of sucks. It’s also kind of awesome because the slowness = that it can also pay off for years and years. But it can be frustrating if you’re not patient. (Something I struggle with myself!) I’ve had people reach out to SM+Co about redesigning a website that’s been live for under a month because “it’s not working.” That’s not nearly enough time to know something is or is not “working.”
All of these things are understandable, and, frankly, pretty normal. But if you give yourself a break, make sure you’ve selecting the marketing thing that’s right for you, something you can do, and then see it through—I finally got this through my stubborn noggin with this newsletter and I’m consistently seeing all kinds of things that can be called “results” that I never even imagined when I decided to dedicate myself to a quarter (then six months, now a year) of Friday newsletters.
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