Despite all the great technology we have at our fingertips, it’s good to know that some businesses are still using the traditional, printed newsletter to communicate in their markets.
As a former print journalist I have a fondness for words and images on paper, and I believe the newsletter can – and should – have a place in the marketing mix for many years to come. However, I think that many valiant efforts to use this medium are prone to failure – the result of too few skills and poor advice.
When a local company’s four-pager hit the doormat recently I found myself wondering how many businesses are pumping money into print – but getting little in return.
In truth there is a brief golden moment when a reader picks up your newsletter and makes the choice between read and recycle.
So how does your newsletter shape up? What part of your print run goes for pulp with hardly a glance? Here are some pointers that should help to make your publication produce profits:
Know your purpose – Don’t just publish for the sake of it. Define your editorial policy to complement the role that your newsletter will play – for example: enhancing the corporate image and encouraging sales by showcasing market leadership, understanding of customer needs and successful applications of products or services. In reality, the goal is to get the reader to visit your shop (or website) … and buy!
Remember the reader – Think of your reader as a hard-working commuter coming home to a family, domestic responsibilities and a garden in need of attention. If he (or she) is going to pick up your newsletter from the hallstand and digest it intelligently, it must scream READ ME on every page. So it must be relevant, appealing … and must convey benefits to the reader.
Make it newsy – You don’t have to make every page look like a mini-clone of the popular press – the content and design possibilities are endless. But whatever the appearance, the content should clearly demonstrate editorial flair. What you need are magnetic headlines and gripping copy that draw the reader and retain interest … right down to your call to action.
Cut out the waffle – Beware of the MD’s ego-trip essays or the sales director’s lengthy ponderings on the state of the market. Rather channel their enthusiasm into thought leadership articles that make readers sit up and take note. And remember that since the arrival of 140-character communication, keeping it short is what readers increasingly expect.
Be visual – Grab the reader’s attention with stunning images and informative diagrams. You are competing with colour on TV, PCs, mobiles, tablets and supermarket shelves. So be bold and be bright … or your publications will certainly be heading straight for the bin.
Be informative – You want the reader eventually to make an informed buying decision. So help that process along by providing information in such a way that the reader immediately perceives a benefit from learning about you and what you offer.
Be clever – Today’s production and print processes give you the flexibility to create separate editions for different geographical areas or customer types – of from different divisions of the company. You can also load your newsletter as a pdf file on your website – giving a wider audience the ability to read it online or print it for themselves, if they wish. Don’t forget to use social media to encourage people to read your latest issue. And if you’ve a really good story on the front page, send it out as a press release or add it to the company blog.
Call in a pro – If you have the time and skills to put a newsletter together on your own, by all means do so. But it’s well worth calling in a writer/editor/designer package with the experience and skills to give you impartial advice on content and presentation. You want a professional product that adheres to traditional standards of journalism and printing, enhances your reputation … and boosts your bottom line.
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 17 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.