Tips for Writing Newsletters that Build Relationships

Newsletters – whether in print or online – are a great way to stay in touch with your customers & prospects while building long-term relationships with them.  A good promotional newsletter offers valuable, worthwhile information to its readers.

Writing newsletter contentThey are not as aggressive at selling as other forms of marketing. Yes, they may promote your business, but they’re not hard core sales tools. I, for one, make it a point to pack my newsletters with information my readers can use and keep any “sales pitch” low key (or none at all).

Consider the words of consultant Herman Holtz.  In his book, Great Promo Pieces, he wrote, “Of course, your newsletter is promotional literature.  You created it to help market your company’s products or services, and the content is therefore necessarily advertising, even if low key or soft sell.  At the same time, since you characterize and publish it as a newsletter, it cannot be 100 percent unabashed advertising matter.  That would immediately destroy its usefulness.  You must publish some material that is worthy of appearance in a newsletter and is definitely slanted to the reader’s probable direct interest. . . .It cannot be a pure sales letter, brochure or advertising circular.”

If you’ve never used a newsletter and are considering starting one now, here are two valuable pointers for ensuring the content you write is clear, concise and easy to read.  After all, you want to catch your audience’s attention, not put them to sleep.

#1. Think carefully about the stories you’re going to share. Remember, you’re talking to customers and prospects.  Keep their needs and interests in mind at all times. They want new information that helps them on a daily basis. So, consider providing them with:

  • Product information/application stories–any success stories about an old or new product. Simply tell your readers about other people’s positive experiences with that product.
  • Company information–stories that acknowledge your achievements lend credibility to your business.  Customers/prospects read about how others respect you and therefore, begin to look at you as an expert in your field.
  • People stories–people like reading about people especially if it’s someone who they know personally (like their sales or customer service representative).
  • Related interest stories–is there something happening in current events that relates to your business (i.e. the economy, sustainability, solar energy, recycling, etc.)?
  • “How to” features–10 steps to better health, 14 guidelines to turn one dollar into a thousand, 4 ways to get great results from a writer, etc.

When choosing a story keep your schedule and deadlines in mind.  Remember that it takes time to research a story, interview people, write the story, take photos if needed, etc.  It’s important to leave enough time for each step to be completed efficiently, not rushed.

#2. Write as if you’re having a conversation. 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–create these pauses.  Using some steps outlined by Rudolf Flesch in The Art of Plain Talk, this means:

  • Write short sentencesTwo short sentences are easier to read than one long one.
  • BE PERSONAL. USE “YOU.” Let your readers know you’re talking directly to them. “You” is one of the most powerful words in the marketing lexicon.
  • Whenever possible, talk about people–tests show that we enjoy, and are better readers when, reading about other people more than about anything else.
  • Use active verb forms that have life in them (i.e., dance, sing, add, run, etc.) and make your sentences ‘move.’
  • Punctuation makes reading easier–it gets pauses down on paper & stresses important points. Use hyphens, dashes, and ellipses to achieve this effect.

“Give the reader helpful advice, or service,” says ad man David Ogilvy. “It hooks about 75% more readers than copy which deals entirely with the product.”

Whether you already publish a newsletter or you’re putting one together for the first time, keep these helpful writing hints in mind.  With these creative building blocks you’ll be better prepared to start developing the newsletter that best meets your company’s needs.

What tips do you have to share? Or, do you have a question you need answer? Please post your comment below because I’d love to hear from you. Thanks and here’s to your sweet success.