Hi from New York City.
How have you been this year?
I ask because this weekend was Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday about remembering.
Don’t worry this letter is not about religion!
I am talking about this particular holiday because it asks us to look inward and think about the past year.
When I thought about the past year, I realized that the days since mid-March ran through in my memory as if they had been stitched together. They all seemed the same.
Unlike past years, I didn’t have any events or activities to act as time markers. My husband and I didn’t eat out with friends, we didn’t visit family and friends in other cities, and we didn’t take any vacations. Also I didn’t get together with colleagues or go to conferences and other marketing events.
And, yes, friends and colleagues talked about the strange sense of time and their challenges on social media and phone calls.
BUT, to tell the truth, it didn’t sink in that the same thing was happening to me.
I thought I was okay because I’ve worked from home for years.
Also, during this period, our neighborhood was quieter than usual. We had access to good food, and we acted like tourists because the city was empty. Jonah Berger makes this point in his second book, Invisible Influence.
So I didn’t realize that like everyone else, I spent MORE time doing things that I didn’t think about in “the time before”.
- Like washing my hands every time I walked by a sink. And I sang a lot of Happy Birthday!
- Like planning each trip out of the apartment. Now, I think about where I am going, and what I’m going to wear in addition to a face mask.
- Like not just walking into the apartment. Instead I take off my shoes, put the grocery bags down, and carefully remove my mask. Then I wash my hands, mask and the groceries.
Don’t worry if you had plans to do a big project during the COVID lockdown. I did.
In The New York Times, C.J. Hughes interviewed several people who had planned to take up new hobbies. He discovered that many of them abandoned or never finished their projects.
So don’t feel badly! You’re not alone. And I’m saying this to you as much as I am to myself.
As the flowers in the parks and on the sidewalks have wilted, I’ve felt a real need to get out of our New York City neighborhood. Since mid-March until now, we had only gone to places that we could walk to. Because we don’t have a car.
By New York City standards, my husband and I have been more cautious than many, So we didn’t take advantage of doing more as the city has opened up.
So on Saturday, we took the subway to my office on Upper Westside of Manhattan. And I must admit that I was nervous. At the same time, I thought this was funny.
Because living in New York City, I always took the subway. It’s the fastest way to get anywhere in this town.
So my husband and I bought a box of blue nitrile gloves to wear in addition to our masks, which are required on NYC public transportation.
To my surprise, the subway stations and trains made us feel like we were in a foreign city.
During “the before time,” the tile walls of the subway were coated with grime. The subway station stairs and platform often had litter. Like a NYC Hansel and Gretel had left a trail of trash to guide the riders who came after them.
Now you could see that the subway station tiles were white. And most of the graffiti on the billboards and walls was gone.
Like the station, the train cars had no graffiti on the wall or seats. Everyone wore a mask and people left at least one seat between them and people they didn’t know.
What did I learn?
I missed doing things that I had taken for granted because I did them on a regular basis in “the before time.” Even riding the subway.
Uptown people were out and walking on Broadway. It felt almost normal.
They filled the tables on the sidewalk in front of open restaurants. (In New York City, in addition to take-out, restaurants are allowed to serve on the sidewalk and, in some areas, in the street with social distancing. But there is no indoor service. )
At my office, my desk had stacks of mail on it. A friend who lives in the neighborhood had taken it in for me. While most of the mail were bills that I had viewed online, there were a few envelopes I didn’t recognize.
Three of them were business size envelopes with stamps. They all came from the same address in New Jersey. One that I didn’t know. Maybe they were personal???
When I opened them up, I found an old fashioned direct mail letter from an insurance company. They had the same content and a photo of the agent with his contact information.
The letters wanted me to buy insurance for my car and my house. But I don’t have either one.
I wondered if a marketer in this major U.S. insurance company had reviewed the type of offer to send to Manhattan apartment buildings. Unlike email, these letters require printing, insertion, lists and postage. #realcosts.
BUT the best surprise was a handwritten note. Inside was a card with a real letter from an AMG Newsletter reader.
I. Was. Blown. Away.
Sometimes readers respond to this newsletter with an email when they like or dislike something that I wrote.
I’ve NEVER received a handwritten note from a reader before.
Thank you so much Helen from Ohio for taking the time to write!
It really touched me and made me think about the last time I took the time to write a personal note by hand, put a stamp on it, and mailed it.
Just. To. Say. Hi. I. Care. About. You.
Actionable Marketing Lesson:
- Go small and personal. As marketers, we talk a lot about how to personalize our communications. But do we ever take the time to do something really personal? Like the note from Helen.When I sit down to write this newsletter, I always think of one colleague, You. Of course, it’s a marketing persona. But I do pretend that I’m writing to one of my marketing colleagues. It helps me make my writing feel more personal.
Big shout out to Mike Allton, author of Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing for his blog post, 15 Newsletters To Level Up Your Marketing, And You!
Mike gave the AMG Newsletter a shout out as one of the top 15 newsletters in marketing. #YouRock!
Thank you to our new subscribers: Bob, Joseph, Katie, Doug, Hemant, Lilyana, Bup, Pamela, Jade, Muni, Vinu, Joe, Mirza and Dennis.
And if you enjoy reading the AMG Newsletter, I would appreciate it if you forwarded to your friends and colleagues.
P.S.: Want Heidi Cohen to contribute a quote or other commentary to your next article, presentation, video, research and/or book?
Then hit reply to this email and ask.
FEATURED ARTICLE: New Normal Customer Behavior: What You Need To Know
Have you adapted to New Normal Customer Behavior?
Due to the health risks of COVID, people changed their lives quickly and significantly.
Read how this affects marketing in different business segments. Includes data and charts.
FEATURED ARTICLE: Audience
If you only focus on customers and their influencers and end-users, then you miss out on improved marketing promotion at lower costs.
Includes templates and checklists to help you as well as related marketing theory.
FEATURED ARTICLE: Content Marketing World Authors Will Make You Smarter
While I’m not presenting this year, Content Marketing World has moved to October 13-15th. Like many other conferences, it is going virtual so you can attend from the comfort of your favorite device and save on your travel costs.
To help you build your content marketing library, here’s a list of books authored by Content Marketing World presenters.
Let’s think about how to create user-generated content for virtual events.
Marketing Rockstar David Meerman Scott and Michelle Manafy just wrote a book on virtual events. It’s called: Standout Virtual Events: How to create an experience that your audience will love. (If you click on this link, you can read the first chapter for free!)
Photo Credit: NYC Open Streets/Open Restaurants from NYC Department of Transportation
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