There Is No Right Answer
Yesterday, I spoke to a potential client on the phone. We had already met in person, exchanged emails, and talked in detail about the work he’s considering paying me to do. His main question yesterday: What’s the difference in a blog and a newsletter?
It was an interesting conversation for lots of reasons. On the surface, the answer to his question seems pretty simple. But his real question, the one he didn’t know how to ask, was different. What he really wanted to know was how to use his blog posts and he email list differently for marketing. He couldn’t quite grasp the difference between subscribing to a blog so that you get an email when there is a new post, and a newsletter. I’m not sure he understood it any better when we hung up.
We have more marketing tools than ever before. Most are easy to access, and many are either free or very low-cost. How do you choose which ones to use? What is going to make the biggest impact in the least amount of
time? (Note: I didn’t say for the least amount of money. These days an investment of time is often more costly than an investment of dollars.)
“It depends” is generally not what business people trained during a different era and comfortable with a different set of rules want to hear. They want me to sell them something. They want me to list all the reasons they should use email marketing, or social media, or whatever they are thinking about doing, and make them feel good about it the way someone selling ad space might have done at a different time.
But blog posts are not ads and email newsletters are not direct mail, and social media is not the same as Chamber of Commerce networking events – and ad space is still relevant. The digital marketing tools at your disposal can be used successfully in lots of different ways. Your personality, or your brand depending on the size of your organization, plays a huge role in how you should approach marketing. If you prefer a suit and tie, you are probably going to be more comfortable using LinkedIn than Twitter. That’s a broad generalization, but sometimes those are useful.
The individuals who are most successful in digital marketing are not afraid to be who they are, warts and all. If who you are is buttoned-up, perfectly coifed, and pulled together all of the time, then you should choose a niche that celebrates rigidity and formality. Everyone else will most likely find you a little boring. Sorry to be brutal, but it’s true. Humans who make mistakes, laugh, cry, and succeed despite struggles are interesting. They have stories to tell and people like stories.
I’m still struggling with how to explain clearly, simply, and accurately why my potential client should generate different content for his blog and his newsletter because what he really needs to do is share his story – with an audience likely to find it interesting.