Writing a great newsletter can be one of the most effective ways to strengthen your relationship with clients and contacts. Fiona Nicolson reports.

    A great newsletter keeps clients informed, builds trust in your brand and helps ensure that your business is the one they think of when they’re ready to buy. It’s harder than it looks though. People are busy and don’t always have the time or inclination to read a newsletter – unless it grabs their attention.

    So, if you’d like your newsletter to stand out from the crowd, here are five tips that could make all the difference.

    1. Where do I begin?

    Planning comes first. Start with an outline of the topics and sections you want to include in your newsletter.

    Generating good ideas can be the tough bit. So, how do you avoid writer’s block? By being organised.

    Keep a note of ideas between one newsletter and the next. Every time you think of something that fits the bill, jot it down and save it in a file. Review regularly to ensure your ideas don’t become ‘samey’. This helps ensure your content is fresh and interesting.

    2. Know your audience

    Think of your newsletter as a newspaper that your contacts would want to read.

    Start by putting yourself in their shoes: what do they need to know about your business and its expertise? It could be well worth canvassing a sample of your readers to ask them what they like to see in your newsletter – and what they’re less keen on.

    3. Engaging content

    While you should definitely announce your successes and promote your business (without being too overt about it – this is not a sales pitch), your newsletter needs to be informative, telling your readers something they didn’t already know, that engages their attention and interest.

    When you’re sharing your news, bring it to life with anecdotes. Tell your readers the story – not just that you’re delighted to win the award – everyone does that, but also talk about where you’re going to keep it and how you celebrated your win.

    A good newsletter is not just about news and facts though – that could make for a dull read. Mix up the content so that it includes features too. Let your readers know why your business is different from your competitors: show its unique personality; introduce the people who work there and include a competition that’s fun to enter, and offers a great prize.

    And do include contact details, as well as letting readers know where they can find out more about your business: provide your web site address and links to your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter pages.

    4. Short and sweet

    A short newsletter is more likely to keep peoples’ attention - one or two pages is enough. Short sentences and paragraphs make it easier to read too. Use headlines that stand out and attract interest and make your newsletter a jargon-free zone. Also ensure you have the right tone and that it’s consistent with your other communications.

    5. Leave them wanting more

    Don’t do a newsletter too often. Even your most loyal readers may tire of you otherwise. So, it’s best to leave them wanting more. Some businesses like to keep in touch with a monthly newsletter – others prefer to do it quarterly. See what works best for you.

    Last, but not least: make sure readers can opt out of receiving it. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t like your company, so make sure you retain their goodwill and take them off the list as soon as possible.

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