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Written by The Mezzanine Group
on May 16, 2012

In B2B marketing, the e-newsletter is much debated and often maligned. Today I’m going to advocate for them – in part, because at Mezzanine we’ve found them to be very useful tools for our clients when carefully deployed, but also because of how much I learn from the ones I subscribe to.

Now, as any good marketer knows, if you send out a newsletter, it’s important for the content to be relevant, which usually means segmenting your list and creating targeted content for them, always thinking about why they might be reading it. Without this kind of discipline and focus on the audience’s needs, your read rates will plummet. (And no, nobody wants to hear about your company holiday party – keep it tightly focused on the needs of the audience – what’s in it for them?)

But in fact what I’m advocating for is subscribing to newsletters that are off-centre for you – where the content isn’t your usual fare, and it isn’t necessarily 100% on-topic for your business or your role.

If you read this blog regularly, you might have guessed that I’ve been subscribing to Co. Design’s newsletter, which is about the role of design in business, and the business of design. I’m far from a designer - I’m the one who says “whatever you like” when we’re making decisions like choosing a final graphic design for our whitepapers – but that’s exactly why I subscribe. I get exposed to thinking and to questions that I don’t normally get deeply involved with.

Another way to do this same thing is have multiple RSS feeds, or some other way to set up your inbound information flow so that you are regularly exposed to perspectives that are vastly different from yours. What I like about e-newsletter subscription is that it forces things into my attention at odd times. One critical element of this approach, though, is that I never, ever let a backlog get created. If I’m having a busy day, I delete without a second thought. That’s about the same way I use my Twitter feed, but something about the newsletter format forces me to consider information just a little bit differently. (It’s possible, as technology continues to evolve, and my brain continues to fuse with my iPhone in new and strange ways, that I may consider this blog quaint within a few years or even months, I recognize.)

Here are a few interesting blogs and newsletters to consider adding to your reams of emails or feeds:

- The Executive Roundtable – always compellingly curated perspectives on career management.

- Co. Design – really, truly, not just for designers!

- Instant MBA – a quick nugget of wisdom (or not) from a variety of leaders – ten seconds at the end of your day/

(And if you have an iPad, do yourself a favour and investigate Flipboard. It’s an amazing to read this kind of content – accessible, browseable (in the old-fashioned, reading-a-newspaper way), and not at all overwhelming.)

How do you put yourself in the way of new perspectives? How do you find that changing as your use of technologies changes, and your methods of paying attention change as well? What’s surprised you lately, and where did it come from? How do you think your audience is incorporating the messages you are sending them?

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