Thursday, August 15, 2013

Five Guidelines to Make Your Newsletter More Effective

Hello My Savvy Children! It's time for a little e-lovin' from me to you and today we're going to lift up the e-newsletter.
So, good news! Savvy actors are sharing their successes through e-blasts, letting the world know about the great projects they're helping to bring into the world.
In fact, MANY of them are.
Okay, so many of them are that my inbox is wading a bit in the tide of "Just wanted to let you know what I'm up to"s.
I'm feeling like they're coming at me. I want to feel like they're inviting me in.
Hey, I'm a newsletter guy too. In fact, EVERY time I send out a newsletter, I book work from it. Every. Time.
And when I lapse, I get e-mails from friends asking if they've been dropped from the list.
Because e-newsletters are more effective when they're done right. And now Papa Doug's gonna show you how through five guidelines.
1. Start with your brand
Most e-newsletters I receive are big exclamation points where every experience was just the best!!!!
Being positive is a beautiful thing, but we are not all drawn that way. Return to those adjectives that describe what you sell as a performer and then WRITE WITH YOUR OWN VOICE.
Are you a geek? Revel in delicious detail.
Are you ethereal? Choose breathy language that comes from feeling.
Are you blunt? Choose percussive language and short sentences.
Gossipy? Political? Bone-dry? Curmudgeonly?
Speak from your brand... and then format your newsletter with colors and a font to match.
2. Get to the point.
Hey, your e-newsletter is a marketing tool.
Get to the point.
That's why I'm going to use really efficient bullet points in this section.
  • Bullet points will direct the eye to where you want it to go.
  • Keep it brief.
  • Challenge yourself to keep it to one pane (so they don't have to scroll down.)
  • Make your subject line useful. "Doug Shapiro starting his 13th season with The Barnstormers" is stronger than "update."
  • Provide contact information so they know how to find you for work leads.
  • Provide a picture to make associating your face with your name easier.
  • Provide links to your shows that make ticket purchasing easier.
3. Be considerate
You want everyone who receives your newsletter to be glad about it, right? Well, you can assure that with some basic consideration for their needs.
Make it easy for people to unsubscribe ( MailChimp is great for sending bulk mail and makes it easy to unsubscribe.)
Only send to Industry folks who are very familiar with and enjoy you. Agents and casting directors receive hundreds, even thousands of e-mails per day and it's highly unlikely that they'll open anything from someone of whom they're not a big fan already.
Give credit to others who made your successes possible. (I'd like to thank Rebecca Soler who gave the great subject line and window pane advice in her fantastic seminar.)
Also, make sure that every picture or video you provide is linked through a website rather than in the body of the e-mail. You don't want to clog up their inbox!
4. Be consistent
My FOD's get a little antsy now if they haven't heard from me every two or three months. So, keep those e-newsletters coming on whatever consistent basis you choose.
That said, save up your successes. No need to barrage people with your glorious successes every time something happens. It's exhausting for them and for you. Spread out your e-lovin' to your fans over a consistent time frame.
5. Be a good host
You can either choose to shout information at people or invite them into the life party you're throwing. Make them feel like they're a part of something.
Just like an effective audition or job interview, choose to set an environment that welcomes your fans into an experience. I refer to my audience as FOD's. (Friends/Family of Doug) and start by inviting them to kick, back, relax, and enjoy the e-journey.
How do you create a welcoming environment? By keeping your e-newsletter about your readers and not about yourself. When you send out information dumps of all your accomplishments, it projects desperation.
Become sensitive to the difference between "I played the lead in this show" and "Joe Director [with link to director's website] brought the best work out of our entire ensemble." Both say you're working, but only the latter shows you're enrolling other great people on your journey. So, use the opportunity to hold up your colleagues. I choose to list the actors and design crew for every project I do, with links to their websites. It increases my readers' involvement because they recognize their colleagues and e-mail me back with "Hey! You know Alexandra de Suze! I love Alexandra de Suze!"
While you're at it, be the go-to person for whatever it is you love.
Are you passionate about new music theatre work? Feature a music theatre writing team like Carner & Gregor. Crazy about baby animals? Link to Old time radio comedy? Link to a Jack Benny video on YouTube. Connect with your readers about something other than the shows in which you're performing.
So, Savvy Actors, be your own Marketing Director and create an e-newsletter that sings with your essence without just crowing about your successes. Effective marketers choose information that is useful to their audience over information they just really want to share. Now get busy and share it!

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