The Art of Writing Successful NewslettersBy: Debra A. Jason
Newsletters can be great direct marketing tools for promoting your product or service. By combining a little public relations, image-building and selling, they provide your audience with useful information. However, information is the key word here.
A good promotional newsletter offers mostly valuable, worth- while information to its readers. Maybe one-tenth of it is geared toward promotion (as reported by Robert Kesner in his article, "What About Newsletters?" --DIRECT magazine). As far as direct mail goes, newsletters are not as aggressive at selling as other forms of the medium. Yes, they may promote your business but, they're not hard core sales tools.
Before you ever begin producing a newsletter you must be clear on its purpose. First of all, who is it going to?
To follow-up on inquiries and qualify potential customers. Let's say you have the world's best widget to sell. However, experience has shown that usually 6 months to a year may pass between the time of a prospect's first inquiry and the time they actually buy. Do you just sit back and wait? NO.
Stay in touch with your potential customers and determine if they are indeed serious buyers. How? Put them on your mailing list and begin sending them your newsletter.
To increase perceived value of a membership. Do you belong to a business or community organization? If you do, chances are they're probably sending you a newsletter on a monthly or quarterly basis. Here in Colorado, the Denver Advertising Federation, Rocky Mountain Direct Marketing Association and Boulder Chamber of Commerce all offer newsletters to their members. A free subscription is seen as an added value of membership, especially when the newsletter communicates clearly and is comprehensive in scope. It is also beneficial in influencing the opinions and attitudes of its readers.
To establish positive, long-term relationships with your customers and stimulate repeat sales. After a customer has purchased your product or service, don't just shake their hand and send them on their way. A newsletter is an excellent way to stay in touch-- emphasizing how you value their patronage. And, you can encourage repeat sales by recommending accessories that enhance the performance of the product they bought or introducing new products available since they were last at your place of business.
To uncover new leads. If you're a member of a fund raising organization or a professional association you may already be receiving newsletters from various companies, whether you requested them or not. These companies rent the organization's mailing list to prospect for new business. Chances are if you are in the least bit interested in the topic of the newsletter, if it's information that you find valuable, you'll hold onto it. And, when you finally need the services of that company you may actually call them. Through their newsletter they've proven themselves knowledgeable so you've already developed a sense of trust in them.
Choose stories that interest your reader.
Remember you're talking to customers and prospects. Keep their needs and interests in mind at all times. They probably are not interested in reading about the employee of the month -- they do want new information that helps them on a daily basis. Give them:
Writing copy that's easy to read.
KEEP IT SIMPLE!!!
The difference between conversation and writing is that during a conversation we give the other person time to understand what we've said. We pause between sentences, repeat ourselves and space our ideas apart.
The secret of writing is to leave space. Using some steps outlined by Rudolf Flesch in "The Art of Plain Talk," this means:
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