Marketing with your telephone poles

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I’m from the generation that used landlines as our first phones. In my Toledo hometown, telephone poles were a big part of our community. They were everywhere because we needed them to carry information.

The poles got used for a lot more than that. Enterprising people reeled in customers via the phone poles, and light poles, too. The poles got posters and handbills stapled and taped on them. In the same way, a big part of your author newsletter infrastructure can link first-time readers to your art and your products.

At this moment, you’d be tempted to skip downward, some of you. “I don’t need a newsletter,” or “I don’t like newsletters,” or, “to be honest, I worry I’d be no good at making a newsletter.”

You should get over that and keep reading, if you believe any of that. Everyone needs to stay in touch with readers, prospects, and their community. I started in newspapers, back when they were the most crucial community connection.

Onward to the advice about your telephone poles. Those are the confirmation emails that your email company (like MailChimp or MailerLite) sends to new subscribers. “Just checking to be sure you subscribed,” is what these telephone poles do.

They could say a lot more and do a lot better job of connecting new readers. David Gaughran shared this tip in his latest newsletter.

He customizes his confirmation email so it includes a link to his own website, or to a spot where he gives something away.

MailerLite lets him “change the destination URL of the confirmation button to a private page on my site. I embed an unlisted YouTube video on that page, welcoming my readers to my list. I ask readers to add me to their Gmail contacts in a message underneath the embedded video.”

Other destinations might be your latest release on Amazon. Or a series page if you have more than one book. You might even make the first book free or cheap.

He’s uses a Jedi master-caliber webpage that new subscribers will land upon when they click a button in that confirmation email. His webpage even includes a tip on how to ensure that his emails stay out of your junk mailbox.

Why you’d care: Connecting to a reader through a newsletter is empowering and encouraging. You don’t have to write a whole book and publish it every time to connect. One paragraph and a useful-fun link will retain a reader’s interest. Always, leave them with more than “here’s where you buy my books.” You can be the helpful scout; I like that persona best. Gaughran is all that and more.

There are four things that a good newsletter email should deliver. The fuzziest and the most fun is entertainment. Read about the other three and plug them into your newsletters.

After more than 40 years of writing nonfiction and reporting news, I can help you with your author newsletter. Let’s explore what we’d learn together — basic things like “why do I need an email service provider account,” and which emailing company is the best bargain.

Publishing is something we’re taking the reins on ourselves. Newsletters crack the whip in the publishing business.

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