The first newsletter is always the hardest. With a million different templates to choose from or a professional designer ready to create your own unique look, getting your email campaign up and running really shouldn’t be difficult.
But all of those options just make it harder to make the first choice: which style matches your company best?
In practice, businesses choose one of three options.
For small firms, in which the founder is identified closely with the product, newsletters tend to be personal. They use the first person, describe partners as “friends” and discuss experiences at conferences, talks and meetings. For small firms and small industries, fields in which buyers may know each other and feel a close personal connection, the newsletter can be a powerful way of cementing a relationship and using it to deliver offers. If you have an active Twitter account or a business Facebook page which generates discussions to which you personally contribute, it’s a simple option that may be the right choice for you.
Service Providers Provide Knowledge
Firms that provide services often choose newsletters that are heavy on content. While a first-person newsletter may look like an email — with minimal graphics and no more than one or two sub-headings — a newsletter for a service provider can look like the home page of a blog. Sometimes, in fact, they’re drawn from blogs. Elance, for example, a site for freelancers, offers teasers to four articles and a couple of announcements, and links to more articles on the company’s blog in its newsletter. The newsletter isn’t selling a product but it is trying to keep its contributors close. Because service providers are self-employed types selling their expertise, Elance offers them professional advice. By giving away that valuable information, they reinforce their own positions as experts and position themselves as the place to which freelancers should turn when they’re looking for projects. Emailing knowledge can be a good strategy for businesses such as law firms, investment advisors and consultants.
Companies that sell products should have it easier. They can simply shoot out a quick email describing the current bargains, toss in a few enticing images and create urgency with a time-limited offer. It’s the route that many sellers take because it’s simple and, provided the offers are carefully chosen and well-targeted, it can be very effective too.
Mix up Your Newsletter Strategies
But perhaps the best strategy is to combine at least two and sometimes all three of these approaches. A company that sells products can announce its special offers alongside advice that helps buyers to get more out of their purchases. And if it’s a small firm, it can also make that offer in the first person.
That just leaves one more problem for you to solve: what kind of business are you?
About the author
Dean Shanson is a professional marketing writer and a New York Times bestselling business book ghostwriter.