So, What's the News?
That's how a colleague of mine recently approached me and asked how I was doing. Because we had little time, she basically wanted the bullet points on my life in a quick summary. It's likely that your clients want the same thing from you. If you've wondered how best to reach your audience in a timely, effective and inexpensive manner, you should consider publishing a newsletter.
The first American newsletter was published in Boston in 1704. Now churches, businesses, government agencies, non-profit organizations and interest groups publish newsletters regularly as an effective means of communicating with their audiences. If you're not publishing one already, where do you start?
First define your target audience. Who will be receiving this newsletter and what do you want them to know? A clear, concise definition of your target audience will help you design the approach you want to take. Newsletters can lend credibility to your organization or business, demonstrating that you're a progressive group with an eye to current affairs.
A newsletter will demand that you and your employees stay abreast of the latest issues surrounding your field and make you a better, more knowledgeable competitor. Perhaps an employee of yours has been studying up on a specific area of expertise, but is too rushed with daily operations to share it with others. A newsletter will provide an outlet for that employee to share his or her ideas. Employee moral will benefit if everyone is encouraged to actively participate in a publication.
Newsletters can be published weekly, monthly or even quarterly. The best choice for you will be found in the content you plan to include in your newsletter. Organizations with weekly meetings and constantly changing schedules might find a weekly newsletter to be more helpful. Information can be updated at a moment's notice. Businesses that like to include coupons for their services may opt for a monthly newsletter to keep customers coming back on a regular basis. Alternatively, because producing a newsletter can be time-consuming, some businesses opt for the quarterly newsletter, perhaps focusing more on the larger picture than the little details.
No matter which option you choose, publishing a newsletter is a lot of work. The best way to streamline production is to place one person in charge. This person should have some skill when it comes to editing and be able to write with personality. Newsletters should not require intense study, but rather should be a collection of bullet points or headlines to catch the eye of the cursory reader. Otherwise, you can quickly lose the interest of the reader.
Don't Send Junk Mail
Time is a precious resource and one that should be respected as you develop your newsletter. Most importantly, ensure that the content of your newsletter is worthy of the reader's time. Make it informative, fun, easy to read and helpful. Make note of the time of year and what your customers need to know specific to that time of year. For example, a car repair shop might provide information on winterizing during the late months of fall.
Design a consistent layout that is attractive and easy to read. Fancy fonts can sometimes catch the eye, but also be difficult to decipher. A standard block print makes it easier on the eyes. Bold headlines will attract the reader's attention and allow them to scan quickly for the information most pertinent to them. Brief reminders and articles that address specific concerns should be the focus. It should also serve as a reminder of upcoming events.