I’m a cartoonist. This is my tenth year blogging. My work has been mentioned in big media including Wall St. Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, and The Guardian. It’s been mentioned in bestselling books like Groundswell and Tribes. And it’s been mentioned on thousands of blogs, including many of the big, A-Lister ones.
That’s all well and good, I suppose. We artist types can use all the PR we can get.
But looking back, it occurs to me that none of that “hot PR media action” has moved my business forward nearly as quickly or effectively as this one simple thing:
My newsletter subscribers telling their friends about my newsletter, and suggesting that they sign up.
No, really, that’s it. That is the money shot. When that happens, my business grows, end of story.
More traditional media PR … well, that can work, sometimes.
You never know. The results are always foggy at best, and it’s always a lot of voraciously time-consuming, pain-in-the-ass work to make something happen. And even then, it may not actually increase sales.
I know getting mentioned in huge media outlets is sexy and all, but seriously, hear me out. I’ve been at this for a while.
Traditional PR works, when it works. Most of the time though, it doesn’t. Same with traditional advertising.
But my list telling their friends — that never fails.
Make it easy
Another thing I’ve learned the hard way is: I cannot make my subscriber list tell their friends about the newsletter, no matter how hard I try to apply my Jedi mind tricks.
All I can do is make it easy for them to share. All I can do is make it as friction-free as possible.
So this is what I did to achieve that: I created a simple link on the bottom of the newsletter.
Hello from Hugh: Please share this link with your friends.
If their friends get the link and click on it, the page has a personal message from me.
One of your friends sent you the link to this page, and so here you are. Welcome!
My name is Hugh. I’m a cartoonist. I have a newsletter, “Hugh’s Daily Cartoon,” which I send out five mornings a week. A wee chuckle in your inbox, to start your day off on the right foot (so to speak). I hope you will subscribe.
Nothing fancy. Nothing complicated. Just a short and sincere message from me. I also threw in a few cartoons, just to give them something fun to read, other than my sales pitch.
A recommendation from a friend carries more weight than a hundred media recommendations.
It’s the simplicity, stupid
If my subscribers aren’t telling their friends, I’m doing something wrong, end of story.
If I’m not making it as easy and friction-free as possible to get my list to tell their friends, I’m doing something wrong.
You read Copyblogger, you’re a member of The Third Tribe, and you probably read a bunch of other savvy marketing folks. Great! They have a lot of killer stuff worth knowing about. Tons of it.
But just for a minute, forget all that and let me ask you two simple questions:
- Is your list telling their friends about you? I mean, really telling them?
- Have you made it as easy and friction-free as humanly possible for your list to tell their friends?
Until you can honestly say “Yes” to both questions, you have a severe marketing problem that no cutting-edge marketing theory — Copyblogger’s or anyone else’s — will ever solve.
About the Author: Hugh MacLeod is a cartoonist who blogs over at gapingvoid.com. He makes his living by selling fine art prints, doing Cube Grenade commissioned art work and sending out daily cartoons on Hugh’s Daily Frickin’ Newsletter.