A Tactic Gone Wrong

The Mystery of The Narcissistic Newsletter

The Effective Detective was staring at his laptop screen with a look on his face that I knew all too well. His brow was furrowed and his lips pursed as if he had eaten something sour. This did not bode well for our conversation.

“Sir? I am almost afraid to ask what it is you are reviewing.” I ventured, knowing I could not escape so may as well just take the plunge.

“Ah Watson,” The Detective replied,  continuing to stare at the screen, but allowing his brow to loosen a bit and his lips form a slight smile; signs that he was winding up for a lesson. “You are just in time to relieve my frustration before it reached a boiling point.”

“Happy to help sir, and just what is the source of your frustration?” I asked,  feeling slightly more comfortable that the following discussion would be at least relatively calm.

“We’ve discussed tactics versus strategy before, Watson, and you know how my blood pressure rises when I see them done in the wrong order,” the Detective began. “But almost equally capable of producing a headache inducing rise is when they are done in the right order, but the tactic is executed completely wrong.”

“Is there a particular tactic which you are thinking of sir?” I prompted, hoping that the calm would remain.

“Newsletters, Watson, newsletters! An excellent tool to communicate content on a regular basis, but with less pressure than producing multiple presentations during a week such as what we endeavor to do here. However, there is a temptation with such things to stray off into the realm of self-absorption.”


“Talking about oneself Watson! Regaling the reader with where you will be appearing, things you have accomplished, new products you have, or will be shortly releasing. What might be interesting for you (in a self-important way) or possibly to some readers that are close to you, for the vast majority of your readers will border on the boring. If there is one sin you should not commit in marketing, like speaking, it is to be boring.

“But more importantly Watson, the main reason most people will read a newsletter is that they are receiving information that has value to them, although I suppose they could also perceive value in being entertained. Unfortunately, someone talking about their own or their company’s latest accomplishments tends to provide neither of those. If you are going to go to the trouble of producing a newsletter type piece, and perhaps the expense if you produce a hard-copy, then make it valuable to your reader! Provide useful content! After all, you are asking for the most precious thing they have: their time,” finished The Detective with his characteristic flourish.

“But sir, is there no place to share a personal victory or anecdote?” I protested, but quietly.

“Of course Watson, but include it last or sandwich it between useful content. I suppose there might be people interested in such things besides friends and close relations,” admitted The Detective.

“I believe there is room for both, sir.”

“I will concede the point, Watson, let us move on,” said The Detective, ending the discussion.


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