Every month for almost fifteen years, I've produced a four-page letter-sized newsletter. We actually have it printed on 11x17 paper and folded twice. We use a nice light blue paper. And we have it printed, not copied. That way we can use photographs and whatever graphics we like.
I recommend that you write a regular newsletter. Every consultant should do this.
I can hear you already: Sounds good, but it's not easy to maintain. Where do you get the material? Blah blah blah.
Before you get too carried away, let me tell you the benefits.
1) Every time we send out a newsletter, my phone rings. Someone asks for a quote or advice. I'm in the quoting and advice-selling business, so this is good.
2) People remember the newsletter. People read it. They mention it to our technicians. Sometimes we get asked for a new copy because the last one got mangled by the post office.
My newsletter is so old, it's called README.TXT, which used to be the name of the file included in a zip or arc file, or on floppy, when a program was distributed int he old days. Anyway . . .
Here's an email I got after a recent newsletter from a very busy guy:
Subject: Best Readme.txt
Maybe it's me, but for a break I just looked at current Readme.txt. It made good points about security & disater recovery that I thought I knew, but it re-inforced them.
Just wanted to re-iterate how grateful I am to have you and your team behind me.
Please share this with your gang.
Also, thanks for the reminder about "stop interrupting yourself"!
My Thoughts on Newsletters
- Newsletters should be printed, not emailed. What's the easiest thing in the world to do? Delete an email. Or filter it. Your target is the extremely busy decision maker who is probably overwhelmed when the email arrives. A printed newsletter can be sorted to the pile to take home, take to the restroom, or whatever.
- Newsletters should NOT have advertising on every page. Some very well respected people will tell you to have a call to action on every page. I disagree. You should have interesting articles that highlight, in a subtle way, the things you can do. It is much better for a client to say "I didn't know you did that" than to be irritated by a newsletter full of coupons and act now calls for action.
- If you have regular sections, life will be easier. For example, the back of my newsletter has the mailing area (1/2 page) and an article on using some feature of MS Office (1/2 page). The front has snippets of news and an index of the newsletter that normally take up 1/2 page. When viruses like Melissa were constantly taking down machines, we had a regular column on virus alerts.
- Use lots of graphics. Screen shots from Vista, Office, etc. are very good.
We have had a number of clients copy our newsletter (or pieces of it) for their whole staff. Some people clip out the recommendations on hot-keys and tape them to their monitors.
Let's say you decide to move forward with a newsletter. Here's some practical advice.
1) Start with a "quarterly" newsletter. Or bi-monthly. Until you get into a routine, don't over-promise.
2) Absolutely get it out on time.
3) That will be easier if you have three in the can before you mail the first one.
4) Keep a "shell" newsletter for the next edition, open it every few days, and work on it a little here and a little there.
5) Create a folder called "newsletter fodder" on your computer. Save emails there as text files (so you can then copy/paste them into the newsletter and they'll take on the formatting of the newsletter). When you find interesting web pages or other info, save it there. Soon you'll realize that there are too many interesting things in the world and you can't write about all of them.
6) Write your newsletter in plain language. Use very little techno-babble.
7) Proofread. Proofread. Proofread. Then have someone else proofread it. The more times it's read before it goes, out, the fewer typos you'll have. It may never be perfect, but keep the errors to a minimum.
If you want ideas for articles, see http://www.kpenterprises.com/news.htm, but remember that those newsletters are copyrighted. So be inspired, but don't steal blindly. Thanks.
I welcome your questions, as always.
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