by Adele Sommers
How do you reach out to, and stay in touch with, your clients, customers, or colleagues? Do you have a way to keep your name, ideas, and offerings fresh in their minds at all times?
A number of marketing studies have suggested that it can take at least 7-10 or more exposures to a given company, person, or message to generate a sense of familiarity and recognition in an audience.
That could mean driving past a particular billboard every day for weeks, reading a certain newspaper ad multiple times, hearing buzz about someone in a radio commercial over and over again, or receiving a newsletter for several months — you get the idea!
If you desire to create a bond with your constituents, you will want to provide them with a way to get to know, like, and trust you (also known as the “KLT” factor). This process leads to building loyal customer relationships over time. It involves finding a way to get onto your audience’s “radar screens” at regular intervals — and staying there. This article discusses:
1) Key benefits of producing a business newsletter
2) Pros and cons of paper-based newsletters
3) Pros and cons of electronic newsletters
4) Optimal delivery schedules
1) What Are Some Benefits of Producing a Business Newsletter?
A newsletter affords certain advantages over other types of media because it’s a comforting, familiar concept modeled after a newspaper. Nothing tricky about it — it can present facts, fiction, fun, advertisements, editorials, and many other types of content without requiring the audience to adopt a new mind set.
The text-oriented medium does not depend on audio speakers or video players to communicate.
You can emphasize tips and “how-to” information, case studies, and third-party endorsements, all of which convey the message that you care about your audience’s success!
2) What Are the Pros and Cons of Paper-Based Newsletters?
People generally create paper-based newsletters with desktop publishing tools, print them or have them professionally printed, and distribute them via the postal system or another method. The pros include:
- They provide a tangible and easily portable medium that subscribers can carry with them and read on a bus, plane, subway, or even in the bathtub — without having to print out something first.
- They’re unlikely to be discarded immediately, especially when they’re attractively designed. Unlike hitting the “Delete” button, tossing a newsletter takes more deliberation, so there’s a reasonable chance of it being read.
- They can be stored for future reference. Hint: Try distributing your paper newsletter already three-hole punched, which conveys to your audience: “Store this document in a binder!” You can even offer an attractive newsletter holder as a subscriber bonus.
The cons of paper-based newsletters include:
- Production and mailing overhead. Paper and ink (or professional duplication costs), the time to fold and label, and the postage all add up. If you produce in color rather than black and white, expect to pay several times more.
- Voluminous newsletters can appear wasteful. Some audiences might cringe at the idea of using so many trees if you regularly send a tome of information.
3) What Are the Pros and Cons of Electronic Newsletters?
People produce electronic newsletters (often called “ezines”) in a variety of ways, including:
- A simple text-based e-mail message that is sent to a personal list or via a subscription broadcasting service such as ConstantContact.com, Aweber.com, or 1ShoppingCart.com (my favorite). Note that broadcasting services don’t allow attachments.
- An HTML-based e-mail message with images and stylized text (like this one), which is distributed in the same way as a text-based message.Tip: Good broadcasting systems should allow you to transmit both HTML and text versions at the same time, using a “mime” function. It will automatically detect the recipient’s preference for HTML or text e-mail, and present the correct version accordingly.
- A Web page where the newsletter is posted for posterity. (See examples.) Some newsletter producers send nothing more than a short, text-only e-mail that contains a link to an HTML or PDF version posted online.
The pros of electronic newsletters include:
- They have low production costs. Other than the time to produce them and the broadcasting service charges, there are currently no mailing fees involved.
- Delivery time can be close to instantaneous, unless there are server slow-downs or gateway blockages along the way.
- If formatted nicely, they can be printed to serve as handouts or examples of your professional communication style.
The cons of electronic newsletters include:
- Aggressive *spam* filters, which make it very tricky to write content that does not set off alarms. Many ezine producers resort to disguising words that trigger filters (by using creative spellings or inserting extra characters), such as “fr*ee,” “guar*antee,” “mo*ney,” “cli*ck,” and many others.
- Strict *spam* regulations, which make it challenging to construct mailings that obey all of the rules, and therefore, more difficult for legitimate e-mailers to do business. (More information on regulations.)
- People already receive too much e-mail, which makes it difficult to compete for their attention. Further, due to the unpredictability of e-mail, it’s very likely that not everyone will even receive your newsletters.
4) What Is an Optimal Delivery Schedule?
Your audiences are attention-deprived, with only so much time to absorb information, yet they still need reminders about who you are and what you offer.
- A quarterly newsletter might be easiest to produce, but may not provide exposure frequently enough to keep you in your audience’s thoughts.
- Monthly or biweekly newsletters are reasonable options, from both a production and an exposure standpoint.
- A weekly newsletter is really the most frequent option you should consider. Not only is it a lot of work to produce, but it might be too much exposure for some audiences.
In conclusion, newsletters provide a powerful forum for engaging your audiences and promoting your business. To enjoy the best of all worlds, consider producing a newsletter that you send out via e-mail, archive online, and also print for a variety of purposes.
Copyright 2009 Adele Sommers
Adele Sommers, Ph.D. is the author of “Straight Talk on Boosting Business Performance” — an award-winning Special Report and Workbook program.
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