How a newsletter publisher accidentally wrote a guide to life

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A newsletter publisher analyzed some 1,140 newsletter ads to see what made the best ones perform. In doing so, he accidentally wrote a guide to life

Keeping themes like clarity, relevance, and knowing your audience front of mind can boost your career, help your relationships, and maybe even let you live your best life.


A recent LinkedIn post from a popular marketing newsletter analyzed the performance of all the ads that they’d sold

The newsletter, Stacked Marketer, looked at some 1,140 newsletter ads that brands had run in their publication, in order to uncover what exactly made the best ones perform as well as they did.

The insights they found are incredible, not only because they have basically cracked the code to what makes a good newsletter ad, but because they apply to anything.

Stay with me as we explore why keeping themes like clarity, relevance, and knowing your audience front of mind can boost your career, help your relationships, and maybe even let you live your best life.


The first key insight Stacked Marketer found is not surprising at all: when it comes to newsletter ads, credibility and trust are essential. Apparently, ads perform better when they establish these before doing anything else.

Putting "social proof" (fancy marketing speak for testimonials) in headlines grabs attention, too.

This all makes sense. Social proof builds authority right away, and gets people to keep reading.

But here's the kicker, keeping credibility, trust and yes, even, social proof front of mind can help you personally as well.

Stay with me.


In this new generative-AI-fuelled era, credentials and testimonials are actually pretty valuable signal that you know what you’re doing

BUT. Many of us are practically hardwired to be modest about nice things others have said about us. We shouldn’t be. If you’re overly modest about this stuff, you’re keeping valuable information off the table.

Are you a professional service provider? Then try weaving some excellent client feedback you’ve recently received into your next meet and greet. Maybe even memorize and quote some nice testimonials you’ve gotten too.

Doing this may feel arrogant and cringe. I promise you, it’s not. They are important signals that will help you prove that you can be trusted, before you even start your pitch.

Look around. Thanks to all sorts of generative AI apps, anyone can make anything on a laptop these days. In our view, people are going to need a reason to believe in other people more than ever. Showcase why people should trust you, early and often.


The second key insight Stacked Marketer found is that clarity and relevance matter far more than cleverness does. Apparently, vague promises don’t work well in ads. Instead, a clear, concise value proposition performs much better.

This principle applies when communicating your skills and value to other people too. Resist the urge to be vague or overly clever. Be crystal clear about what you offer. Remember, relevance builds trust. Clarity creates confidence.

Cleverness, by contrast, can breed confusion.

By the way, this applies to personal relationships too. Trying too hard to impress, rarely strengthens bonds with others.


The third key insight is the power of leveraging proven formulas —though this must be balanced with adaptability (more on that in a second).

The ads analysis found that simply repeating successful approaches (running the same ad over and over again) actually boosts ad performance. One ad they looked at ran repeatedly, for a year, to the same newsletter readers. Every time it ran, it performed well.

But hang on. How does that square with conventional wisdom that says to stay nimble, and to never stop evolving? Well, it kind of doesn't: both are true. The key is recognizing when to optimize established assets versus when to overhaul them.

Bottom line here: resist changing for the sake of change. Rather, track results. If core messaging resonates consistently, find ways to refresh it rather than starting from scratch.

Guess what? People should take this same balanced approach when promoting themselves. If there is something nice that you consistently hear about yourself, share it with others.

You shouldn't ever be at a loss to describe how you're wired when asked. Simply repeat and build upon nice things you've heard about yourself over the years. After all, if you’ve heard them over and over again, they’re probably true.

Leveraging established assets and messaging works.


Experienced marketers know how critical it is to truly know your audience. When messaging resonates with those who receive it, engagement skyrockets.

This applies directly to career advancement, too. If you understand what motivates the decision makers you deal with, you can craft your brand/product/service positioning around their needs.

How? By studying both their priorities and their language. Say you're interviewing. Answering a "what's your greatest strength?" question with your teamwork skills is likely resonate with head coach-style collaborative managers, who love group work.

BUT. Lone wolf, self-starting bosses may prefer to hear about how you love taking initiative, putting your head down, and grinding.

Knowing what motivates the decisionmaker just might get you the job.


A marketing newsletter analyzed over one thousand ads and accidentally wrote a philosophy for life and work.

The top line is clear: Build trust with social proof. Be clear, not clever. Stick with proven formulas. And understand your audience above all.

Great advice for writing ads —or winning new business. advancing your career, and connecting with others.

Or is it?

I mean, carefully crafting your image and your messaging for a specific target audience seems like a pretty calculated way to live your life.

Where is the line between authentic self-expression and strategic positioning?

Only you can answer that.


“I analyzed the performance of 1140 ads that [ran] in the Stacked Marketer newsletter in the last 2 years and I found out [what] makes for a high-performance newsletter ad” »»

Written by Jon Kallus. Any feedback? Simply reply. Like this? Share it!

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