I’ve been meaning to dictate/write this letter to you for some time. I’ve been reading your pieces for at least a few years, and while we are of the same age (more or less as I am almost 68), radically different growing up experiences. I have to apologize to you that you only got 700 new subscribers. I should’ve put a link in and it would have been much higher. Next time I will.
Will the new readers stick? Hard to say… I am not sure that your tribe and my tribe are all that different, but then again I’m not sure who your tribe is. And that’s where your writing speaks to me. You talk about musicians finding listeners and giving them what they want. We think about expanding our investment information junkie tribe and making them feel included, feeding their information needs. We actually hired a person this year whose entire job description is to make new readers, who sign up for my free letter, feel appreciated and wanted. Hopefully they will buy something. Eventually. Like a musician, I appeal to a certain audience/tribe. It’s an interesting business model and not unlike the music business. Really, the investment publishing business has a dozen different genres as different as country music and hip-hop.
If we should ever find ourselves in the same ZIP Code, I think you might be fascinated to sit down and compare the experiences that I go through in Internet marketing investments and newsletters and the music business. I make my marketing team read your letter religiously.
It’s lines like this from today’s letter that inspire me: We don’t need much, but we do need great. Every week when I sit down as I have for soon to be 18 years, I look at a blank screen and say, “dear gods, don’t let the magic stop now.” I started with a few thousand names back in 2000 and the letter just took off. I did a few things right, got lucky on more things.
I read you because you remind me that my focus has to be on the quality of my writing material that I give to my readers in the experience they have. And everyone on my team has to have that same focus. Seven books and five bestsellers and a million readers later I haven’t made a dent in your world, and likely never would or will accept that I do drive traffic when I mention a name. No reason for you to read me or know me.
But mostly, your letter was the reason you got 700 new readers. People far outside the music business intuitively understand that attention is everything. And you seemingly effortlessly just let the words of wisdom roll off your fingers on the screen helping us focus on what we should be focused on which is making sure that we deserve the attention of our readers. And so they searched for your name on Google and subscribed. From my experience, readers who have to work to get to you or your best subscribers. And they become the most loyal. I will likely read that letter on attention once a month for many years.
Frankly, from reading you it sounds like those in the music business are a bunch of whiners. Their business changes over a few decades. They should be in a business where Google changes the search parameters every three years and you go from being the number one to somewhere on page 37. Overnight. And then the same damn thing happens again three years after you claw yourself back up to where you are on page 1 again, meeting their new parameters which are again just changed and so every penny you spent on SEO is down the drain. And bitching to Google does absolutely no good so you just deal with it. Because they’re in the business of trying to improve their customer experience.
And then you find yourself putting in a six-figure budget just for the ability to be able to send out millions of email addresses a week without being flagged as spam. Wasn’t even in the budget line 4 years ago. Now we are spending mid-six figures just growing our list. Five years ago we grew organically. Then Boom, the world changed. One of my main competitors is down 80% on their deliverability and income. And these guys are pros, having been around 30 years. Early Internet pioneers and then everything just changed. And then changed again. My executive team fully expects to have to reinvent the entire business delivery model every 3 to 4 years now.
Getting attention and follow through is much harder today than 15-10-5 or even two years ago. We seem to run harder just to stay in the same place, let alone grow the business.
I know I’ve only got 25,000 followers on Twitter. I find Twitter to be mostly noise as far as revenue production. But you’re right, I will get somebody on my team starting to focus on getting more twitter followers. There’s no reason I shouldn’t have a hundred thousand with some effort. It’s probably good for the branding and all, but still not sure how you make money out of it. We keep trying to figure out how to monetize Facebook. We know we have to do it to stay relevant but damn it’s not easy. It’s like being on CNBC or FOXBusiness or Bloomberg. Its validation but as far as I can tell it does almost nothing for increasing my readership. Honestly? I get more viewers from putting a link in my letter to the segment I was on than they probably have watching it to begin with. Business news aggregators? They are changing even faster.
My cell phone is ___-___-____ and you are welcome to call. I am writing a book on how the world will change over the next 20 years I would love to pick your brain.
All the best and good luck on the health front!
With warm regards,
2900 McKinnon, 1708
Dallas, TX 75201