April 19th 2017

The Do Lectures: : How to Make a Newsletter

by Martin O'Toole

Have you ever heard of the Do Lectures? Up until very recently, I hadn't. Which, in hindsight, means I've bloody-well missed out on attending some very cool events and an exceptional level of learning. That said, since I'm a big believer in the idea that you can teach an old dog new tricks, I'm now proud to declare that I AM A DOER!

So what's a 'Doer'? The definition is pretty simple: People who do things are the people we should be listening to. People who do things (Doers) can inspire us to go off and do stuff too.

David & Clare Hieatt kicked off the Do Lectures back in 2008. Inviting useful people from all-manner of sectors and areas of expertise, to talk to relatively intimate groups about what they've done and how they did it - sharing their learnings - in the hope that they might encourage others to become Doers themselves. Sounds obvious? That's what I thought. But there's something about how the Do Lectures operate that genuinely DOES inspire you to DO! Which is why I'm writing about my own experience having had the immense pleasure of seeing David Hieatt speak. On this occasion, the subject was'How a Simple Newsletter Can Transform Your Business'.

First things first: I'm a marketer, so what could we possibly learn about creating a newsletter?! The answer is loads, and the reasons are simple.

I realised some time ago that - like many agencies - we don't do any bloody marketing. Sure we've recently rebranded and our new site is making some serious in-roads in certain areas, but in terms of content marketing, as an agency we do the bear minimum. Plumbers and leaky taps etc. In addition, I/we'd lost faith in what a properly curated/created newsletter can do for your business.

David Hieatt is a very laid back bloke. He's one of those speakers who you can't help but love rather immediately. Calm, straight-talking, warm & friendly, and UTTERLY devoid of any bullshit. As it goes, I turned up to the event with an unplanned hangover having been out with clients the night before. I was the last person into the room and the last to sit down - keeping my head down so as not to draw attention to myself. My plan was going well until David asked every person in the audience to stand up and spend a minute talking about themselves and what they were hoping to get out of the lecture. The moment I spoke, I realised I sounded like a mash-up between Barry White and Gollum and thus had no choice but come clean with the group about my "stinking hangover" right off the bat. Much to my relief, the whole group (David included) was rather forgiving of my somewhat damaged state - chuckling at my honesty. In fact, during the first interval, several people enquired as to the state of my head and offered me painkillers. It was at that point that I realised that the Do Lectures attract a certain type of personality. Bloody nice people who just want to be inspired and to learn more about doing business in a different way.

  1. The Do Lectures Fist of Fury 5
  2. The Do Lectures Fist of Fury 6
  3. The Do Lectures - Fist of Fury 9
  4. The Do Lectures Fist of Fury 3

So without spoiling the format (and giving you the impression you don't need to sign up to this lecture), the upshot of the whole experience was that I realised we were talking about content strategy - with the newsletter being a channel within it - and a cost-effective and measurable channel at that. David talked to us about how him and his team at Hiut Denim Co. had built their newsletter list from 36 to multi-thousands of genuinely engaged customers. He also reminded me that the principle behind a good newsletter is happily married to the basic principle of content marketing: coining a phrase by the legend that is Gary Vaynerchuk: "jab, jab, jab, right hook". Or in far simpler terms, "give, give, give, THEN ask".

We can't expect customers to always be open to our sell. In fact, we can't expect our customers to always be open to interacting with our brand at all. Most of the time, they neither care nor have the time or attention span anyway. But if you consider it, a really well thought out, well written newsletter that they actually requested... Customers do want to interact with your brand; they just want to do it on their own terms and in their own time. Hence good email really can work.

Not only did this particular Do Lecture inspire me to sit down and create a content strategy for my business; it also gave me the tools to do it. David shared countless online resources with the group - from content curation tools like Pocket, to the features & benefits of the wondrous email tool that is Mailchimp - which I'd admittedly forgotten all about.

The Do Lectures - Fist of Fury - Tools for an Easy Life

So in a nutshell, I can absolutely, positively say: do do The Do Lectures. I'll be going back soon enough as it's a business and creative community well worth being part of.

If you've got tight budgets for marketing learning, then you can buy David Hieatt's new book which covers the lecture here.

Oh yeah... With all this in mind, we've just launched our newsletter. It's called The Knuckle Sandwich (see what we did there?). You may be reading this blog because you've already seen issue #1. If not, Mr Hieatt would likely openly scold me if I didn't finish this piece off by adding: sign up to our mailing list here! As I was repeatedly told during my Do Lecture: "All roads must lead to sign up".