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E is for Newsletter; J is for John: Leverage Your Contacts for Direct Email Marketing

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Some folks, attorneys perhaps particularly, most of whom don’t want to admit to selling anything, even though it is much their business, find email marketing to be a dirty phrasing, equating almost everything done via this method with the crucible word: spam. Yeah, some directed email is spam; read: the Cialis and Viagra emails you get in your junk email folder (hopefully) . . . um, don’t literally read them . . . Not all directed group email, however, is spammy; some of it can be exceedingly useful. For that sort of useful targeted-to-a-group emailing, the pain is directly proportional to your ability to filter it, and that’s if it comes often enough to merit filtering, as by the creation of a dump folder, using rules. There is some email that is easily restricted in the manner alluded to above: listservs, member organization notices, e.g. There are some other email types, as well, that can be filtered, but that are not necessarily odorous. Into that class steps the regularly-scheduled, but not overly-scheduled e-newsletter.

An e-newsletter scheduled quarterly, by way of example, for distribution to an email contact list, can be an extremely powerful way to reduce a portion of your message for directed consumption. A regularly scheduled e-newsletter, appearing in the inboxes of your closest friends and most treasured clients, will keep you top of mind, and will provide you with a continuing level of visibility, in delivering your consistent, branded content.

There are two starkly different temptations surrounding the distribution of an e-newsletter: one meaning too much, the other too little. In our information age, we are bombarded with hundreds of pieces of usable and forwardable news and tips every day. These are not all fodder for your e-newsletter, or direct marketing campaign. You must be certain not to make your e-newsletter too long, because nobody will read to the end. (Seriously. Trust me.) Neither should you send information too frequently, whether via an overscheduled e-newsletter, or via other emails, thus surrounding and overwhelming the distribution of your e-newsletter. Of course, the doubtful obverse of a coin is the not pushing forward enough of information, or too infrequently scheduling releases. Just as too much information paints you annoying, too little information colors you irrelevant. Quite obviously, your investment in the process is what drives the process. If you are not making certain that you are remaining closely tied to a consistent production and release schedule, your e-newsletter will be forgotten, or never remembered. This may, also, directly hinge upon your ability to create content for your other production outlets. If you are utilizing your blog posts as featured content for your e-newsletter, well, your failure to post to your blog equals a failure of content plug-ins for your e-newsletter.

This content question is one that is frequently on the lips, figuratively, of our clients. Well, isn’t it tough to derive content? Certainly. Actually producing something, and even producing somethings, consistently, is difficult; but, there are tricks for that trade. When producing and disseminating an e-newsletter, you should create a template platform that contains some combination of your logo and contact information and disclaimer and other suitable and useful information, including a nifty and eye-catching color scheme. Once you’ve developed your template, you should take care to develop, at each issue, your foreground theme. Each e-newsletter of yours should have a settled theme; it’s much easier to aggregate content on this basis than haphazardly. The two supra suggestions are obvious timesavers. As to what links and information you’ll include in your e-newsletter, there are two useful timesaving options there, as well. First, you should not draft new content for your e-newsletter, save for perhaps an overarching introduction, and some short, internal introductions. Use what you have already done/link out to what you have already done. The easy fix here is to prominently feature topic-aggregated series of blog posts. Second, you should include useful content drafted by others, be those others colleagues, those who have posted useful information or reputable news sources. People love it when others deem their writing useful/interesting/well-done enough to broadcast to a new, unique set of followers. Don’t flout copyright, getting permission for reproduction when you need same; but, do highlight the work of others when appropriate. If the content game is just impossible from a time (you’re too busy practicing law) or technique (you don’t like to write, or you don’t feel that you write well) standpoint, there are options for content generation. Ghost writers are available, in a number of forms, for straight content generation. Just make certain that you are selecting reputable persons, reviewing final drafts and that you maintain ultimate administrative control over your publication engines. Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly offers a unique program for the generation of entire newsletters or e-newsletters, for the generation of content for newsletters or e-newsletters and for the design and construction of newsletters and e-newsletters. You can find out more about the service here. Best of all, LOMAP clients get 20% off. The caveat here is to make certain that, even if you are using content generation services, that it is not an excuse to completely disengage, and to let things run on, on autopilot. You should make certain that you apply at least some personalization to your e-newsletter or e-newsletter content. Folks can generally sniff out entire cans of material pretty quickly these days, if for no other reason that there is so much out there. Enough small tweaks, however, can distinguish a canned product from a canned-spam product.

The use of e-newsletters can be advantageous for firms both old and new. For starting attorneys, it provides an opportunity to leverage an existing contact base, which is more likely to exist in email form than not, in 2010. Even if your contact list is comprised entirely of family and friends, that is a start; and, where can you get better good will, and word of mouth, anyway? As your practice grows, grow your emailing list along with it. And, when your firm is established, you can utilize your emailing list and e-newsletter provision for some extended purposes. Generally, you can reside at the tops of the minds of your emailing list inclusions by broadcasting more regular content, like an e-newsletter. Regular reminders of your existence and the quality of your work will help to generate referrals. Keep in mind that your best source of referrals is your roster of existing clients and colleagues; providing general updates by way of your e-newsletter keeps in the forefront of those valuable minds your presence and specialty, making it more likely that they will refer future cases, and clients, to you.

It is difficult, however, to execute an e-newsletter straight out of your inbox. The development of a template can be a pain. Transmission via cc:, bcc: or emailing lists are difficult, at times respecting both the process and execution. If you’re looking to develop consistent and impressive e-newslettering, and associated
othering, campaigns, your best bet is to invest in delivery of your message through a direct emailing marketing service. The two leading providers are Constant Contact and iContact. Although the CEOs of the respective companies may disagree, both products are substantially the same. Both are cheap (roughly $15/month for 500 email addresses). Both offer professional delivery, without strings of email addresses being included somewhere within the message. Both offer a professional look, through templating and html delivery. Both offer professional management tools, including sharing options within emails, archive to a public website and opt-out spam management features, so that you may not run afoul of the CAN-SPAM Act. The spam management tools alone are worth it, given that it can be very difficult to manage opt-out’s on your own.

Do we really believe in this stuff? Yeah. Do we have a e-newsletter, too? Of course we do. Check out our archive here. Was this all just an excuse to pimp our e-newsletter? Definitely. Did I mention that we have an archive that you can view, where we aggregate all of our historical newsletters? Oh, I did? If you like the e-newsletter archive, and want to subscribe to our emailing list, so that you can receive fresh, virtual copies of new editions of our e-newsletter (as well as a monthly installment of the ABA’s fine “Law Practice Today” ezine), fill out the contact form at the lower left-hand corner of the frontpage of our website.

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Liner Notes

Elton John has, for quite some time now, been known mostly for crooning slow jams meant to inspire Disney characters to get it on and for being the other old dude performing with Billy Joel in a series of dueling piano-style concerts. This version of Elton the performer is not bad; but, I much prefer the early version of Elton John, you know, the pre-dressed up like Donald Duck Eton John. The hardest rocking Elton does now is likely an up-tempo version of “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”; but, Elton, back in the day, could really lay it down. The sweet-spot for crazy-good Elton John music (as opposed to good Elton John music) is established from the beginning of his career (1969) out to the mid-seventies (1975). In that seven-year period, Elton released 10 studio albums of exceptional quality. (Who does this anymore (well)? That’s almost two records per year.) Most people (not me) seem to agree that 1973’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is Elton’s greatest work; but, taken as a collective, the 1969-1975 Elton John catalogue stacks favorably against the most vibrant and creative periods of music’s greatest performers. Not only did this seven-year snatch mark the creation of some sublime album tracks, the entire set of albums work masterfully, individually, as cohesive units, even including a concept album, the last of which referenced can be difficult to pull off under the best of circumstances. Several years ago, I purchased, on CD, the entire remastered Elton John catalogue representing the years 1969-1975. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to those CDs at this point, or how many times one found its way onto the CD player after a night’s worth of boozy partying, carousing performances leading to rousing performances. I loved those CDs, especially because they had imprints of record albums on them, all different colors. And, although my Elton John CD collection has, in being caught up in the march of time, been converted to my Elton John iTunes collection, I can assure you that my play count numbers for albums and songs remains high.

Let’s, then, do a little early career retrospective for Elton Hercules John né Reginald Kenneth Dwight, and present studio album releases in chronological order, with representative tracks following:

(Yes, I know that Bernie Taupin wrote most of the famous songs.)

(I have, in more recent years, grown to develop quite a fondness for country music. When I was younger, I eschewed country music. Only, I was already listening to it. I am surprised, in looking back, to find the intermittent country flavorings of some of my favorite singers, like James Taylor and Billy Joel and even the Beatles. Hell, Elton John produced an entire country & western-style album–but I’m getting ahead of myself, though not too far.)

Empty Sky (1969): with “Lady Samantha” and “Val-Hala

Elton John (1970): with “Your Song” and “No Shoe Strings On Louise

Tumbleweed Connection (1970): with “Into the Old Man’s Shoes” (bonus track on reissue; I know, this is cheating–but, isn’t it sick that a song of this quality didn’t even make the original album) and “Son of Your Father” (This is the country & western concept album.)

Madman Across the Water (1971): with “Holiday Inn” and “Rotten Peaches

Honky Chateau (1972): with “Susie (Dramas)” and “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters

Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player (1973): with “Elderberry Wine” and “Midnight Creeper

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973): “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Funeral for a Friend/Loves Lies Bleeding

Caribou (1974): with “The Bitch Is Back” and “Step Into Christmas” (which, roughly thirty years later, gave birth to the “Step Into Christmas” dance)

Captain Fantastic a
nd the Brown Dirt Cowboy
(1975): with “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy” and “Philadelphia Freedom

Rock of the Westies (1975): with “Island Girl” and “Grow Some Funk of Your Own

(Included in the early corpus of John are two excellent live albums: 17-11-70 (1971) (dated in the British way) and Here and There (1976), the former a recorded radio show performance, the latter an ambitious project, featuring concerts delivered “here” (London) and “there” (New York), the highlight of the New York show being John Lennon guesting with Elton on a few songs. (The Backstory: (Elton) John extracted a promise from John (Lennon) that, if (Elton) John sang backup on John (Lennon)’s “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night”, and the song went #1, John (Lennon) would appear on stage with (Elton) John, appearances on three songs during the New York City side of the Here and There album being the upshot of (Elton) John’s predictive power and faith.)

Following the release of the Rock of the Westies album, Elton founded his own record label and released Blue Moves, a double album. Blue Moves was different in tone from nearly all of Elton’s prior albums, and represented what would become a permanent shift to soft rock, ending the Elton John era, as I knew it, or came to know it.

CATEGORIES: Client Relations | Law Firm Management | Law Practice Startup | Marketing | Planning | Risk Management | Technology

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