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My Marketings Learnings from Creating My Own Newsletter pt. 3/? - Getting Feedback

In my first post chronicling creating a newsletter from scratch, I shared how creating a logo isn't an instantaneous event, and how much it affects the foundation of everything else (e.g., the website, social media, the newsletter).

In my second post on this adventure, I shared my experience on enabling people to sign-up for the newsletter.

Now, I thought I'd write about getting feedback.

First - Standing Naked on Stage

As a professional marketer, I aim to get as much attention as possible - on a product or an executive or company. But I am actually shy to the spotlight. It's been a personal challenge of mine to share this thing with people, even friends and family. I was very happy to talk about the idea, but then putting something in front of people felt like going out on stage with a spotlight on me. I'm in marketing. Newsletters, websites, writing - it's what I help companies do, and here I am showing myself bare.

Nonetheless, I gritted my teeth and asked the nicest people I know first. Being my friends, they very kindly agreed to take a look and give me feedback on my very rough first stab.

I actually also asked some old bosses, which as I write this I realize is risky. I do want to work with these people again. But I also profoundly respect and admire their opinion.

One stumbling block that set me back a full week was simply putting names into MailChimp. First, I did it manually, and there are a couple of ways to put names into MailChimp. I put in my friends' names several different ways, and learned that the newsletter was landing in their inboxes (all gmail accounts) in different places - some in a special Promotions folder, some in their primary inbox, some in spam. So, I had to play detective and figure out why. Secondly, I deleted a few of these names and tried to start over. MailChimp doesn't want you to permanently delete people and then add them back in. Understandably, this would allow someone to "unsubscribe" and an admin to overrule that person's preference. MailChimp wants the person to resubscribe themselves. So, I had to go back to my kind and generous friends whom I had deleted (though not telling them, because I thought it was back-end stuff) and explain what I'd done and ask them if they would be willing to sign-up again. I suppose it's not a big deal, but again, I felt like I was fumbling through a basic process that one would expect a marketer with my experience to know. There are lots of technical mechanics that I'm deeply appreciating right now.

Besides, originally, I was only asking for their feedback on the newsletter content, and by now I had a landing page and sign-up information and I did actually want their thoughts on the process from beginning to the content. Though, I did feel like I was asking them to come to two dress rehearsals.

Second - What Feedback to Incorporate vs. Leave Behind

So, now with not only the content coming together and a landing page, I had to weigh through the feedback. And as of writing this, I am still asking for and collecting feedback from trusted friends and mentors, though I am opening the lens a bit more as I feel a bit more confident with refinements from round 1 of feedback.

Ninety percent of the feedback so far has been incredibly helpful, insightful and informative. Such as thoughts on tone, what not to forget, how it's rendering on their devices (keeping in mind that I don't have every possible device out there).

I have made decisions on what input to incorporate and what to leave behind. A lot of the "leave behind" was more like "not right now." For example, sophisticated ideas for dynamic content or expensive ideas that exceeded my budget. Some of the suggestions were just unrealistic in consideration of my 1-man operation putting not a lot of money into this.

I've also now had the perspective to stand back and reflect on WHO I asked for feedback. As mentioned, at first I simply started with my nicest friends, whom I didn't entirely mind standing bare in front of.

As I've gathered their feedback, I've realized that all of them work for GIANT companies with big budgets and a robust circle of talent in their departments. So, when they make technical suggestions, it comes from their experience asking a colleague to whip something up, because it's their job.

The other unintended common denominator of my early pool has been that they are all sports-fans. My little newsletter, Elevator Sports Talk, is specifically for the person NOT reading the sports pages. So, for example, one person said they wished they knew more about cricket and rugby. Someone else said they wanted to know the home team vs. the away team and even more detail (as opposed to my ~3-min.-read). These are people who have apps on their phone buzzing with every sports headline. I had no idea how many people in my immediate circle are intense sports fans -- because we never talk about sports, because I can't hold that conversation very well. :)

And as mentioned, I'm still taking feedback, though now I'm now I'm giving a bit of guidance when asking for feedback, such as, "Will you please look at the landing page?" and "I'm not changing the color from green. I'm now very attached to the primary color being green."

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