CMI: How Do You Craft ‘Epic’ Email Newsletters?

The Content Marketing Institute just announced via email on 3/28/14 that they decided to stop publishing their newsletter in its current form.The Content Marketing Institute just announced via email on 3/28/14 that “we have decided to stop publishing this email in its current form — but we will continue to have a newsletter.” CMI later added:

Right now, the team is getting together and putting together a plan for something that helps you with your job or your life in some way. Anything less simply won’t do.

I guess I’m asking for your patience … and your feedback. I’m not sure when we will come out with a new version for you to see (how long does it take to get to epic?).

Great question. How long does it take to get to “epic,” and why is Joe Pulizzi, one of the leaders of the content marketing discipline, rethinking the CMI newsletter approach?

CMI has been at the forefront of reminding marketers that their content, whatever medium, must provide value to their audience to remain competitive.

Victim of Its Own Success

Why change approach? It isn’t that email newsletters or brand journalism are no longer effective. I think the answer is that the CMI newsletter is a victim of its own success.

By the very nature of CMI’s stated mission of “advancing the practice of content marketing,” the site covers everything from technology to metrics to social to search to debate. The site is an excellent resource for marketers reaching people through targeted content development. Yet, you have to wonder if a newsletter covering so many topics was relevant to readers?

Perhaps part of the solution is simple and straightforward: Segment the list.

That’s just half of it, though. How does one get to “epic”? It is revealing that Pulizzi writes, “something that helps you with your job or your life in some way.”

EPIC = Personal

To be epic you have to connect on a deeply personal level. This doesn’t mean invading your audience’s privacy. It means that you, the marketer, must up your game to create content that, frankly, teases the edge of your own comfort level. It requires trust. The kind of trust you extend with compassion and a hope, without guarantee, that your audience will respond in kind.

No, this isn’t a call to reveal all. It’s a call to be real.

“Being real” doesn’t mean dropping manners. It doesn’t mean creating content just for the sake of controversy and attention. Rather, it’s the opposite of the sleek, slimy marketing person cliché. It’s person-to-person, and it’s meaningful.

It requires that you, the marketer, take the personal and craft it into something sincere and useful to your audience. This is the root of content marketing, but most marketers can and should go farther.

This means approaching content development from an epic perspective and mindset:

  • Empathetic: Content that demonstrates you’ve listened first and have heard your audience’s true wants and needs
  • Proactive: Content that anticipates audience wants and needs and delivers it
  • Inspiring: Content that sparks a subtle but powerful internal shift — of perspective, of potential, of possibility — because you succeeded in your efforts to be empathetic and proactive
  • Connection: Content that fuses a sense of kinship, immediately or over time, between people, not just brands.

I appreciate that Pulizzi is rethinking his approach in pursuit of even greater results. Epic content isn’t about reformatting newsletters. It is all about creating content that connects us on a deeper, more personal level.

 Disclosure: I have previously contributed to CMI’s website and magazine.

Image: Content Marketing Institute

About Katie McCaskey

Katie McCaskey is SixEstate’s content director. She tests real-world application of content marketing techniques using the cafe she co-owns as a laboratory. She was Tech Editor of Chief Content Officer, 2010-2011, and contributes to the Content Marketing Institute. Connect with her on Google+ or @KatieMcCaskey.

  

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