How To Create Powerful Newsletters
Foreword By The Author
How to create a newsletter is a common enough question in this field but creating a newsletter is often only part of the story. Writing a newsletter, if you want it to be read, has to be considered first and foremost as an exercise in relevant content production. Most newcomers to the field make the big mistake of thinking that the newsletter's main role should be as an advertising vehicle and/or that its content should take the form of advertisements in disguise. Nothing could be further from the truth. Powerful relevant content should be the number one aim and any promotional accompaniment should be as subtle as possible.
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Why Promotional Stuff Needs Downplaying
Not long ago I received a flyer in my mail box (my actual one, not my virtual one) from a land agent. It opened with the question of whether or not I was thinking about selling our house and followed with a summary of properties in the area that were up for sale. It was a well-crafted piece of work. Plenty of consideration had been put into the structure, paper style, typeface and so on. All in all, it was an extremely competent business presentation. So what do you imagine I did with it? Yes, I did exactly what most other individuals who received it surely did. I relegated it to the waste basket without further study.
That is what happens to most advertising that intrudes on our lives or is thrust under our noses. For example, many families make use of the TV remote control a lot, more for muting the advertisements than anything else. 'Giveaway newspapers', due to the volume of ads they invariably carry, are similar. Some have so many advertisements that it can be difficult to find anything that you might want to read (and, most often, they therefore assume that there isn't anything, so don't bother looking).
The Challenge Of Written Material
So how do you get your message across in writing? In fact, how do you get people to read what you have to say? Answer: by giving them something to read that they find utterly compelling!
Why don't we look again at the real estate agent’s answer to the issue of locating customers. He or she was obviously advised that selling is really a numbers game. Relate your sales message to a sufficient number of potential customers, they are told, and product sales will inevitably follow. And, to be honest, it's true... to an extent! But it is also true that if you asked everybody you met, "would you like to buy a house?", it would only be a matter of time before somebody would reply, "Okay. How much?". A very, very long, time. It would really be a total waste of time because the vast majority of people would respond with that old retort, "not interested, thanks". And a flyer is basically simply asking that same question; so it solicits the same response. The recipients are not being presented with any particular reason to even look at the material, let alone study anything in it that might be of benefit to them
So what should the agent be doing? The answer is: produce a regular newsletter filled with such powerful content that its recipients will feel compelled to read it. And what's more, they'll then look forward with keen anticipation to the next edition! That way they become regular readers, and the moment they first so much as think about moving, they will know exactly who to turn to.
So What Makes Powerful Content?
For the provision of powerful content there are really only two questions that have to be answered:
- Who are going to be the readers? (They are your target market.)
- What are their primary, and in some instances, secondary, interests? (This is what your main content should be about.)
For instance, a newsletter for a real estate agent could be distributed to home owners and current customers. These people, not the realtor, are the ones who make up the readership. Important motivators for these folks are such things as redecorating, home owner insurance, gardening, furniture, household finance, and so on. At a secondary level, you should be looking at an even broader collection of pursuits pertaining to the kind of people that you are aiming at. Using the same example, home owners are usually family men and women, parents, automobile owners, vacationers and so forth. Virtually anything covering these topics could therefore be considered by them to be gripping content.
Good results for a newsletter depend on the quality and quantity of such engaging content. Frequency of publication can vary according to the target market as well as the means of distribution but just by issuing such a publication on a regular basis you will soon become an accepted authority in the minds of your readers. Therefore, any subtle messages you convey through the newsletter will be like seeds falling on fertile ground.
Creating Your Own Newsletter
You might, needless to say, create the required content yourself as long as you're fairly proficient at grammar. Spelling shouldn't pose a dilemma because you've got a dictionary with a spell checker (you do utilize the one you have, right?) so it is just a question of understanding the difference between similar sounding words, e.g. ‘there’ or ‘their’. On the other hand, if you employ writers to produce your content, at least you know now what you should want them to write about.
Whether you want to publish a hard copy (paper) newsletter or an electronic version (ezine) is your own choice; the advice in this article remains valid either way. There are many guides to creating a newsletter on the web, including our own (ClipCopy Content Solutions and our sister site, 101 Newsletter Answers). There you will discover a variety of material, including our renowned newsletter fillers, so developing your own newsletter should be no big mystery.