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Be anything but predictable

When you publish a newsletter, it’s important to be consistent (and we’ll talk more about that next week). However, it’s the kiss of death to a newsletter to be predictable.

Izzy (my 18-month old yellow Lab) and I have been spending an inordinate amount of time on training for the last six months. He’s a big dog (about 75 pounds), and he’s nearly as headstrong as I am. Which means he can easily drag me down the street (all 5’2″ of me :-) ) when he sees something he wants to chase after.

Recently, I was bemoaning his continued lack of consistent good behavior to a trainer friend and she told me something I hadn’t realized…

You’ve got to be consistent with the consequences (and expectations) but inconsistent with the rewards.

At, Mark talks about random rewards as they’re applied on Nanny 911. He says, “Gambling is addictive because while it operates within a set of rules, it’s unpredictable.”

And that’s precisely how your newsletter should be (though *addictive* isn’t really the goal).

You want readers to anticipate each issue of your newsletter because they’re curious about what you’ll talk about this time. Because they can’t wait to dive in.

But that can be hard when you’re writing a company newsletter because you have a limited number of topics to write about. For instance, every time you open your copy of Newsletters in Focus, you know I’m going to talk about newsletters.

So, how can you be unpredictable with your newsletter rewards?

By considering your newsletter from your readers’ point of view. What do they *expect* when they open each issue? How might you shake things up?

Your Challenge: Today, make a list of 15 ways you can be unpredictable in future issues of your newsletter. Perhaps you could offer readers a random reward for taking action. Or maybe you could *not* invite feedback in some of your issues.

Take a look at several back issues of your newsletter and see what you might make special by NOT doing it every time. (Don’t review a book in every issue, only feature a client testimonial in every third issue, etc.) Drop all the ads once a month, or devote half of one issue to recommending a great resource you’ve recently discovered.

Shake things up in your newsletter and you’ll keep your readers on their toes, eagerly watching their inbox for your next issue.

But, what about consistency? Watch for that next time ;-) .

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About the Author

Jessica helps independent professionals become Indispensable Experts through powerful publishing programs. She works with clients one-on-one as a newsletter designer and writer and in groups through the Newsletter Spa.

Email Jessica directly, to find out more.

One Response to “Be anything but predictable”

  1. Newsletters in Focus: Year Long Publishing Program » Q & A: Readers Want to Read Between the Lines Says:

    [...] t way to make a difference in your numbers is to shake things up. For suggestions on that, see this issue on avoiding predictability. Extend this unpredictability beyond the content in the ne [...]

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