How to prepare a business newsletter
Constant Contact With Your Clients: How to Prepare a Business Newsletter
There are many articles written describing the advantages to mailing your own newsletter. Few of them, however, detail how to prepare a successful one that will appeal to your clients and encourage their business. A poorly created newsletter can actually serve to drive your clients away. Follow these six easy steps to a successful company newsletter, and your business relationships will vastly improve.
1. DECIDE YOUR MARKET. You must decide who will receive your newsletter. Do you want to send them to all of your clients, or just a special few? Do you want to send out multiple newsletters – one for small businesses, one for residential clients, and one for large businesses? Do you want to serve only one of these groups, perhaps the one who gives you the most profits – or the one whose profit margin you would like to increase? How you slant your newsletter will depend on your market. However you do it, I would suggest you speak with the customer – either by phone, email, snail mail, or by allowing them to sign up at your web site – before sending the newsletter. Otherwise, you increase the chances that it will be thrown in the trash – and it does you no good there.
2. DECIDE YOUR PURPOSE. What is the reason you are writing the newsletter? Do you want to keep your clients abreast of industry news and products? Do you want to relay how major happenings, such as Katrina or Congress, affect your company or field? Do you want to put out a newsletter of local happenings to tie yourself more firmly to the community? The focus of your newsletter should remain consistent. Or you can choose to be inconsistent – perhaps you consistently give each newsletter a different topic to revolve around. Either way, your customers want you to be dependable. Pick a purpose and stay with it – and make it broad enough to last for years.
3. DECIDE YOUR NAME. Once you have decided on a market and a purpose, you can pick a name that aptly summarizes your mission. This name should be memorable, should convey what you strive to achieve, and should catch the readers interest. Most readers will decide in an instant whether or not to read the newsletter; you only have a second to catch them with your title.
4. DECIDE YOUR STORIES/ARTICLES. This step resembles step 2 but is broader. Now is the time to brainstorm. Write down all possible types of articles that you would like to feature. Then decide upon a rough layout. Again, be consistent. Perhaps your goal is too include a smorgasbord. Put the items of similar feel in the same place in each newsletter. For instance, you could make your cover story about your industry or business matters, your first inside story about city matters (and preferably how they pertain to your customer), your next inside story about national matters (again, preferably how they relate to your customer), and your back page story as a book review. You may decide to leave the bottom half of the back blank so the newsletter can be mailed without an envelope. You may choose to enclose a coupon or a special offer somewhere in your newsletter each month – in fact, I highly recommend this as one of the best marketing tools possible. Design your layout with your audience in mind; what do they want to see? Obviously, for an emailed newsletter, you would have a single page, perhaps with sidebars. You may want to include less information, or links to articles on your web site, since readers tend to delete long emails unread.
5. DECIDE YOUR WRITER. Although a company manager is much cheaper, I highly recommend you go with a professional – and not just because I am biased. You wouldn’t hire the company manager to draw your ad logo, you wouldn’t hire an executive to print your business cards on his computer, so why skimp now? Look at the freelance writer as an investment. If your customers see shoddy work, full of misspellings, or worse, if the writing is so dry your clients fall asleep simply by looking at the newsletter, then you have wasted your time, money, and energy. Spend the money to get the job done.
6. DECIDE YOUR DISTRIBUTION. There are quite a few options for distribution in this day and age, and each one has something going for them. The least expensive – and possibly most likely to be deleted – is the email newsletter. You can mail this to hundreds of people without incurring the cost of paper or shipping. On the other hand, in this day of crowded inboxes, your email can be deleted with a simple point-and-click. Or you could print out the newsletter and mail it. Here you have invested in paper and stamps, but your newsletter could be simply thrown in the trash. Jay Conrad Levinson makes an interesting suggestion for attracting attention – he suggests using eight stamps. Instead of one .39 cent stamp, perhaps you could do five 5 cent stamps, one 10 cent stamp, and two 2 cent stamps. This would certainly attract the recipient’s attention – but it will take more labor to affix than a single stamp. The final, most time-intensive way, best for small businesses in close communities, would be to hand deliver your newsletter. This gives you a few minutes to forge a bond with the owner of the company. By delivering the newsletter in person, you have the option of capturing interest and making the owner curious enough to read the letter – and the special offer you have included. If it takes nine exposures to build a client’s trust, then hand delivery will hasten those exposures.
Most people think that creating a newsletter is a simple matter of throwing together a few words. The more professional your newsletter looks, however, the more successful it will be.