Although Honeywell has worked in the ad business for most of his professional career, it’s not what he went to school for.
“Like everyone else who went to college in the ’70s, I wanted to be a crusading reporter saving the world after Watergate,” Honeywell says. “But by the time I graduated, there were no jobs, because everyone in the market had a journalism degree.”
Looking for other ways to make money as a writer led him to advertising, where he cut his teeth at an agency before setting out on his own as a freelancer.
“I loved freelancing, but it gets harder to remain relevant,” Honeywell says. “When you’re in your 40s and in advertising, you’re old.”
To get away from the freelancing game and into something more stable, Honeywell and his wife started their own business as a creative services shop.
But as it started to grow, they realized they needed to be intentional about how they added services.
“We saw a lot of old-school agencies die because they didn’t understand digital marketing,” Honeywell says. “We realized our niche was that we understood marketing as well as digital technology, and how they fit together.”
Honeywell’s past as a writer and strategist are now brought to bear on how he writes Well Done’s newsletter. Like Reckard, he believes in the primacy of the end user.
“The stories in our newsletter aren’t really about us,” Honeywell says. “The stories are about how these things might affect the readers that we’re reaching. And thinking of it that way means we show them that we’re smart, relevant, forward-thinking, and, frankly, not bullshitty.”
“People can sniff out a sales stench,” Gonzales says. “If what you write stinks of marketing, your audience stops reading. I don’t think of the newsletter as a sales piece so much as it is a way to let people experience what’s happening at Well Done.”
5 tips for recalibrating your newsletter
- Identify your audience. Always start with your users and consider their experience. Send them content they actually value, not just an obnoxious sales pitch. “When people give you an email address, they give you access to their digital home,” Reckard says. “We make sure we’re respectful of that with the content we send, and make sure it’s something subscribers can use.”
- Bring in the whole team. If your old newsletter isn’t working, it helps to bring in some outside perspectives to represent the best of your agency. “The great thing about having a team approach is that it shows who we are,” says Gonzales. “When you get the newsletter, it feels like you’re getting a little bit of what it’s like to be with our team.” Plus, that one quiet person from accounts could have a really great idea for content.
- Be more interesting. Speaking of great content, keep in mind how easy you are to ignore — especially when you communicate by email. “It’s easy for you to send email, and easy for me to delete it without a second thought,” Honeywell says. If you have something worth saying, say it early.
- Have well-defined roles and a plan for production. If you were writing a newsletter for a client, everyone involved would have a well-defined role, clear deliverables, and deadlines. That shouldn’t change when the newsletter is for your own agency. “It needs to run like a well-oiled machine,” Gonzales says. “You can’t wing it — processes and quality control are required.”
- Be consistent. Part of quality control is making sure that you’re consistent on delivery, both in terms of what you send and when you send it. If your dispatches go out at random intervals, or if you don’t deliver on a promise, you’re teaching people to see you as spam. “Once people forget about you or forget to expect you, it can feel more like an intrusion when you reappear,” Reckard says. “Regularly delivering what people signed up for makes you more welcome.”