Creating Newsletters is easy. As a marketing person, you are already a great talker. Here are seven ideas I use when creating newsletters.
You already know your clients (insurance professionals, property managers, Realtors, business of all types, consumers, etc.). You know your subject matter. So what do you do next? This is how I do it. You may find a way that works better for you and I would love it if you would share your insights with me at Richard@brcconsultants.net.
- Create a format. You can see what mine looks like. I use Microsoft Publisher but there are other programs like Front page, MS Word, etc. Pick a design you like because you can use it again every month by just changing the content in the articles. I just take last month’s newsletter (i.e. Newsletter-May2014), and use the Save As command to create a new file (i.e. Newsletter-June2014). I then delete the unwanted articles so I can see the space I need to fill. Logos, sidebar information, contact information remains the same (though you can change it if you add new services, want a different monthly graphic, promote a sale item, etc.).
- Choose a theme. You know a lot information about your industry. Choose something your clients need to know that will help them in their business, new equipment or services, what your company is doing for your community, etc. Say something that you can talk about with confidence. Generally I will write two to four articles using a two sided newsletter, trying to stay within a general theme. Since you know your business, you can probably write a few paragraphs of information that your clients have not thought about yet. Without even breaking a sweat.
- Choose some pictures when creating newsletters. I like to take pictures (you can use your cell phone). Be careful of using copyrighted pictures from the internet. Generally equipment pictures from manufacturers may be O.K. to use, but you can always check with them. Crowd pictures and images where you can’t readily identify person are also fine. Pictures of a fire or other disaster are just news photos. However, if you need a photo of a particular house, you should ask the property owner for permission (in writing if you can). Images should be laid out to enhance the article, net overcome it.
- Writing your articles. Four important things to remember; 1)Write for your audience, so do not use jargon words that they do not understand. If you are generally formal in speaking to your clients, write that way. In sales letters and blogs I tend to be conversational with the reader. However articles are more for information than for persuasion, so be somewhat formal. I try to avoid slang and contractions (do not instead of don’t). 2) Do not edit while you are writing. It will stifle your creativity. If I cannot think of a particular word, I often put in a place holder like pppppppppppp and get back to it later. 3) Write in the active voice. If you can say the same thing in 8 words instead of 11 or 15, do it. 4) My philosophy about writing a newsletter or anything else is organizing the information so it easily digested by the reader. Which brings to the next step…
- Editing your articles and newsletter. After creating newsletters, there is some polishing needed. Obviously you can use a spell checker, but often the wrong spelling can be a properly spelled word, like to when you mean two. It is a great idea to wait until the next day to edit you newsletter…I sometimes read what I think I wrote instead of what is on the page. Another technique is to read it out loud to catch awkward or long sentences. If a sentence is too long in may need to be cut into smaller segments with commas, semicolons, or periods. Often the best final step in editing is to get someone else to read it for you to see if it makes sense to them. Take criticism in the way it is meant: an opinion to help you communicate better with your readers. By the way, consider adding headings above main paragraphs so people can skim and find what they are looking for easier. Also use (but don’t over-use) bold, italics, colored backgrounds, different-sized fonts, etc. to help organize the information.
- Printing your newsletter. Even though I always create them in color, I tend to make black and white copies. Laser looks better, but remember this is a newsletter and not a slick advertisement. If the content is valuable information, you will be forgiven if it is not a flashy piece. Print copies from a computer or USB if you can, or at least from a high quality print. If you are making copies at Office Depot or other retailer, print one copy to see how it looks. Change whatever need to be changed (lighter, darker, photos and text setting, etc.) and print another one. Once it is as good as can be expected, run your 100 or 200 copies.
- Presenting the newsletter. Creating newsletters is the hard part. Now you get to pass them out. (Yes you can mail them, put them in a post, etc. But if you are seeing someone anyway, personally hand it to them–like a gift.)Now my clients expect my newsletter and they tell me they appreciate it. Always hand it to them or lay it in front of them on their desk so it is right side up and easy to read. Often I tell them a highlight or two while pointing at specific areas
(i.e. “65% of clients leave their insurance company after a claim”). Create interest! You need them to be engaged. I often give them the highlights but if they are super busy or want to cover other subjects, just remember: you are there to help them.