Kathleen Booth on Amazing Business Newsletter Strategies

In this episode, we talk with Kathleen Booth from Prevailion about how to create an amazing newsletter that your audience wants to read and engage with.

Are you looking for a way to communicate with your prospects, leads, and customers?

Do you want it to be in a way they love and engage with? Then listen to this episode where Kathleen Booth shares the amazing "C's" to creating an amazing business newsletter strategy for your company.

She also sprinkles in a few examples along the way for you to check out after you are done listening.

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About the Expert

Kathleen Booth

Kathleen Booth of Attila Security, a venture-backed cybersecurity startup providing government and enterprise clients with visibility, control and threat defense across physical, virtual, and cloud applications.

Kathleen was named by TopRank as one of the 50 Top B2B Marketing Influencers in 2019, she also hosts The Inbound Success Podcast and is an avid LinkedIn video creator on topics relating to marketing and entrepreneurship.


Full Transcript

Dan Moyle 0:08
Ready to spend 15 minutes with the experts you admire need strategy sessions from thought leaders brought directly to your ears. Welcome to the sprocket talk 15 minute strategy podcast where every week George B Thomas uncovers the challenges that sales, marketing and service professionals face and of course, the strategies to help them overcome their biggest hurdles. So sit back and set your sights on growth with these bite sized conversations build with your strategy gold, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 15 minute strategy podcasts

George Thomas 0:37
Sprocketeers. I'm excited because I have a friend of many years on this episode with us and also we're talking about a topic that well I've heard through the interwebs that this strategy might be dead but we might have to bring it back first of all, Kathleen, as we get started Kathleen booth, can you please let people know who you are? what you do and now Where are you Do it at

Kathleen Booth 1:00
Yeah, absolutely. I'm so excited to be here. So Kathleen booth, I am Vice President of Marketing at prevail. Ian, we are an early stage cybersecurity company located in Maryland, but about to take over the world. Just you wait, it's gonna happen. Yeah, and I, I come out of over a decade of working in agencies. So it's been kind of fun to sit on the other side now that I'm in house and getting to do all the stuff I've always done for lots of companies for just one company.

George Thomas 1:34
I love that in house and a startup all at the same time. Talk about biting off a big chunk. It's funny though, Kathleen, because as you're in this startup scenario, as you're in this in house scenario, you know, there's all these things you have to build all these things that you have to do. Your mind is probably going around just racing with different strategies, tactics, tools that you've learned in the agency world. And it's funny because today, we're going to talk about One thing that you're probably building and that should be built even though people say that it's probably dead, let's dive into kind of newsletters and how we can actually create newsletters that might not be dead that might be effective. When I asked you about that, and by the way, I could selfishly be asking because I want sprocket talk or impulse creative to have amazing newsletters. Where does your mind go the historical mindset to moving forward?

Kathleen Booth 2:26
Oh, I love this topic so much. And this is like, I'm gonna unleash my inner marketing geek on you. First of all, whenever marketers say anything is dead, don't believe them? Because that's just so wrong. You know, they're things things seem to be dead when people are not doing them. Well. And I think we did go through a long period of time when people weren't and in many cases still aren't doing email newsletters. Well, you know, and, and it's very interesting. I have this theory that that a lot of the blame for that lies The sort of doorstep of companies like Constant Contact and MailChimp, not because they're bad, or because they have bad intentions, actually, they have the best of intentions to make creating great newsletters very accessible for people. But I think what happened was, we we came into this era when newsletters became very templated you know, you had these beautiful, beautiful graphical templates that you could use to put email out and people kind of fell into a check the box mentality of Oh, you know, every newsletter should should be four blocks each should have an image and a little blurb and a Read More link and, you know, we kind of became like marketing robots and just did what we thought was expected of us and, and the originality went out the door. And of course, what that did was it created a sea of sameness in terms of emails, and people whenever whenever you get a lot of the same thing, it's human nature, you gloss over it, you your eyes crossed, they roll into the back of your head and you think Nope, delete. So You know, to me, that's what led to this. But what I've watched happen in the last couple of years is this beautiful renaissance of email newsletters, where we're seeing, you know, smaller newsletters being written in a much more personal and authentic way. We're seeing whole businesses like really big businesses being built around email, think companies like the skim, which, you know, is an enormous like billion dollar success. It's really a just an email newsletter, you know, and you have other companies nipping at its heels like the hustle in the morning brew, building businesses, just around email newsletters, they had the newsletter first and now it's mushrooming into an entire media empire because their newsletter was so successful. So all you have to do is really look at companies like that to understand not only is the email newsletter not dead, it's it's having this incredible comeback and there are such powerful lessons. I think that the Average marketer can learn from looking at those kinds of newsletters as well as others that aren't as famous, but that are just really doing it right. So that's, that's what gets me super excited.

George Thomas 5:11
It's interesting because as I and you actually what's funny is you're kind of getting me excited to think about this. There are so many things firing in my brain right now around newsletters, when you're talking about this sea of sameness, and I love the marketing robots thing. I'll probably pull that out as a clip, and use it. And by the way, listeners, you may want to rewind and just listen to that segment. Again, just get it really as the foundation. But Kathleen, when I was listening to you, a couple of things came to mind. So let's just start here. newsletters historically, when we've gone through this thing, it's all about us kind of selling our things or talking about us. And what I heard was this lean in order this twinge into creativity and even differentiating yourself and I don't even mean differentiating yourself from your customer, or your competitor, but differentiating yourself from yourself. So maybe talk us through like, how can we creatively maybe make our newsletters different? Is it each month? It's different? How do we break this template style that we may have gotten into? Like, where do you go with that?

Kathleen Booth 6:23
Yeah, you know, it's an interesting question. I and I spent a lot of time studying this a little over a year ago, because in my last role, we launched a new email newsletter and I really took a deep dive and even once we launched it, we continue to really study other examples. And so I have some strong feelings about it. I think the first thing is that the essence of what makes a newsletter a newsletter, really is just setting a consistent expectation with your audience that they're going to hear from you at a certain date and time. That's really it right beyond that, a new Letter can be anything, you know, because if you don't have that consistency and that expectation, then what you have is transactional email, you know, email me when you have something to say, right? That's what we expect of marketing, email, sales, emails, etc. But when we subscribe, the very act of subscribing. This goes back to the publisher comment you had earlier. The very act of subscribing is me as a reader saying that I'm going to make this part of my daily ritual or my habit, not even doesn't have to be daily, it could be weekly, but it's going to become a habit for me. And habits only succeed if they are consistent. So that's really it. If you're doing a newsletter, number one you have to commit to, to publishing consistently. When you say you're going to publish if it's Monday at 1130, which is what my podcast is every week, you publish every Monday at 1130 come hell or high water. You know, you set your cadence, it could be monthly, it could be bi weekly, it could be weekly, it could be daily. That doesn't matter as long as you stick with it. So I think that's at the core of it. Beyond that, I feel like we almost need to undo everything we think we know about newsletters, and really think put our reader hat on, think about what we like to read, you know, and if you're like me, you probably do have some newsletters that you subscribe to, and that you love to get and that you don't delete. And what I would suggest is think about what really works for you in those. Now for me, what I can share in the lessons I've taken away that I'm applying to the newsletters, I'm creating, I created before and I'm going to create in this role. The biggest thing is, is some essence of personality and point of view. What I don't like is opening a newsletter that sounds like some again, marketing robot wrote it that comes from info at, you know, I want it to feel like I know the person or the team of people behind it. And, you know, to that end, you can either have your newsletter be written by a single person You know, a couple of great examples of newsletters that do that one is an henleaze, total anarchy, which is phenomenal impact where I used to work, Liz Murphy writes the newsletter there, and she has a very particular, you know, tone of voice that I love. Or you can tell your audience who the team is, and a newsletter that just that really well is the hustle. They actually include the names of all their writers, and sometimes I think they even do pictures. So you feel like you're getting to know the people behind the content. I think that's, that's really the biggest thing for me. I'm moving beyond that. It's, it's, you know, like any great content, it's adding value. It's really delivering something people can use in their lives. And so I would say if you're currently doing a newsletter, and you're just accepting the first three sentences of your content and popping it in and putting a Read More link, you need to revisit your approach. When I look at it I the question that I want to answer for myself, if I'm reading or for my readers, if I'm writing is why should I care? That's not written in the first three sentences of the article you're linking to then write it yourself, create original content for your newsletter, and tell people why they should care. But also, don't be afraid to not limit yourself to just your company's content. You know, if you truly want to deliver value, are there other things happening in the world in the in your industry that your audience should know about? Just include those be all about delivering value. And if you do that, you're always going to win. And that's true of any kind of content as it is for newsletters.

George Thomas 10:32
Yeah, I love this. So so far, newsletter strategy, creativity, consistency, and then the word that was in that last section that kept ringing to the top of my head was conversational, right. So when people talk about newsletters being dead sure if it's your latest three blog articles, or your CTA for your product or service, or something that just looks like you stamped it in there in some automated way. Yeah, might be dead, but what Kathleen is talking about is actually Taking time to nurture a message of value that you're sending out to people. And Kathleen, this is the thing that you said that I was like, Oh my gosh, from a marketing mindset, when they hit that subscribe button, they're not saying to you, I want to be on your list. They're literally saying, I want you to be part of my day. Now it's yours to lose. And are you the one that's losing it versus gaining that relationship that they're saying that they want when you hit that subscribe, Kathleen, as the last question in this 15 minute strategy podcast, I just want to lean in and ask this because you started to go in this direction. And I think some people maybe need to unlock their brain a little bit more towards this and maybe even we can help them in ways that they can do this. The other see, we've got creativity, we've got consistency, we've got conversation. So let's lean into curation. Like how can we leverage that as part of the conversation or content that we're using inside of our newsletters?

Kathleen Booth 11:59
Yeah. You know, it's it, I think, again, when if you if you go back to always putting delivering value first, one of the things I think about is, you know, what is it that I'm reading and listening to and looking at, that's helping me learn and become better at my job and are those things that my audience would benefit from? I think oftentimes your audience just kind of wants to get into your head and understand, you know, what inspires you there's a reason they're reading your content they're trying to learn from you. So not only is a great newsletter about sharing what you already know, but I think it can be about sharing how you're learning and becoming better at what you know, you know, that's, that's a way to kind of leapfrog and get right to the to the core of things. So I love that you know, open up the kimono as they say, and let people into your own learning process. And I feel like that's a home run every single time. I love that the whole mentality of kind of documentation but the side of everything that is Around, you're moving forward. So final question before we give you the opportunity to let people connect with you and whatnot, because I said it was a minute ago, but I lied. And it's my show so I can keep on going. If somebody's sitting here, right now they're listening this they have a, you know, a newsletter sending out and after listening to this, they're like, I absolutely hate it. What are the next steps? How do they move forward? What have you seen in a way of like transitioning or killing or starting new like, talk us through that little piece of how do we move forward with a true newsletter strategy that is amazing and that people are going to love. I think the biggest thing honestly is getting out of your own way. Marketers tend to approach their work with this feeling of like fitness is how things have always been done. So this is how I will do it. And you need to somehow throw that out the window and the little trick that I use That helps me with that a lot is something that email marketers call the rule of one, which is you have to approach it as though you are writing to one very specific person. And I have a particular friend who doesn't work in my industry that I like to use for this. And her name is Jen. And I'll say if I was writing this to Jen, what would I put in here? You can do the same thing with newsletters, you know, because if you truly want your newsletter to bring authentically, it needs to really sound like something you would write. And this is scary for a lot of marketers and a lot of business people in general because they think, Oh, you know, am I going to not sound professional, if I write in my newsletter the way I would write to a friend, don't worry about that. Some of the most successful very, very professional newsletters do this. If you want to see a great example check out the CB insights newsletter. There's a guy named annonce Sandoval i think is his name who writes it. And he This is a major technology analyst firm that people pay a lot of money to and he signs off every newsletter saying I love you, a nonde. I mean, nothing could be less quote unquote professional but but is more beautifully personal than that, right? And he's doing it and they have over half a million subscribers. So think about that rule of one, picture a friend in your head and rewrite your newsletter as though you were writing it to that friend. And if it doesn't sound like something you would actually say to that person. Those are the pieces you need to scrap and restart with.

George Thomas 15:29
I love that. viewers and listeners, you might want to just rewind and listen to this podcast again, if you haven't been taking notes and jotting down all the great examples that Kathleen has been sprinkling like a pro along the way, like that's where you should start. Do that research like she did over a year ago. Kathleen, if people have questions about newsletter about marketing or just want to talk to you, where do you want to send them

Kathleen Booth 15:52
so people are free to reach out to me wherever I love talking about this stuff if you can't tell. Of course you can always tweet me at Work mommy work, but you're also welcome to send me an email. Kathy slack@gmail.com that's k th s as in Stuart l a t as in thomas@gmail.com. That's my personal email. I check it every day. And I will definitely write you back.

George Thomas 16:17
I love it by the way best Twitter handle ever. I'm just gonna throw that out there. I love it. Now folks, here's the thing. Do your research, think conversation think creativity, think curation, but don't don't think newsletter email bots and we'll see you on the next episode.

Dan Moyle 16:35
Did you enjoy this episode of the 15 minute strategy podcast we'd love to know. leave a rating and written review wherever you listen to your favorite shows and keep that learning going by visiting sprocket talk comm sign up for your free membership and in that membership area you can find bundled episodes where we combine like strategies to help you grow better make the world better and share this episode with your friends and co workers who may be battling this same obstacle. You can always reach out to George B. Thomas On Twitter with questions or guest suggestions or just to talk about your favorite Marvel superhero, go out into the world and leverage this strategy for your success. And we'll see you on the next episode of the 15 minute strategy podcast.