Ever since I started my business, we have been sending out an email newsletter on a monthly basis. I meet small business owners all the time who tell me they'd like to send one out too, but often don't end up doing one for a number of reasons. So, I thought I'd explore what some of those reasons are and how to get around them:
1) How to design one
One of the first things that puts people off sending out an email newsletter is designing one. When you're coming up with your first newsletter, the easiest way to get around this to put something together in word and then copy and paste it into the body of the email. You can get a template for an email newsletter by going to Microsoft and typing in “Templates" into the search box. Once you're there, type “Newsletter" into the Templates search box. Some great templates are available that you can just input your information into.
2) What to write about
It's always quite difficult to come up with topics to write about in your email newsletter, but actually, there is loads you could write about. You can use any company news, surveys, how to. . . , top tips, seasonal offers, trends, ask the expert etc. My favourite way of coming up with things to write about is to listen to your customers. If you notice that your customers are asking you the same things over and over again, perhaps that's a good excuse to write about it your newsletter. Remember, people want to see useful content, so the more useful you can make it, the better.
3) Practical stuff
Practical things also tend to put people off - things like how long should the newsletter be and when should you send it? So to answer these questions, when you first start writing a newsletter, it should be as short as possible (about 1 page long) - you can expand this out when you feel more comfortable. You should try to send a newsletter out not less than every 6 months, preferably by email (as it's cheaper). Most people will opt to send one out every month, but if you're not sure you can commit to this, I would say send it out every quarter. It doesn't really matter when you send your newsletter out, but try and stick to around the same time whenever you send it.
4) How to send it out
Send out your newsletter out by email if at all possible - firstly because it's cheaper and you can track when people have read the email. You should always send out the newsletter using the Bcc (Blind Copy) field in your emails - this will make sure no one will be able to see all the emails that the newsletter has been sent to. If you're not sure how to do this, just type Bcc into the help box on your email package and it should talk you through how to do it. It's worth checking that your newsletter looks ok before you send it, by sending the newsletter to yourself first. When you're sure it looks good and all your contacts are in the Bcc field, press send.
5) The purpose of the newsletter
People often assume that they'll get business from their newsletter and then stop doing it after three or four month when they don't get any customers from it. However, this isn't the purpose of a newsletter - a newsletter should be used to remind your contacts that you exist and are active in your business as well as telling them that you're an expert in your field. While a newsletter may not directly lead to customers, it may well help convince them that you know what you're talking about if they're considering using your services or buying your product.
6) Keeping going
Many people start a newsletter and then after 3 or 4 issues realise that it's quite hard work and stop it as a result. So, before you start writing a newsletter, make sure that you will have the time to put it together every month or every quarter. Perhaps write three or four in advance so that you have them there and ready to go - and keep them short too (it's much easier to write a 1 page newsletter, than it is to write a 6 page one).
If you're thinking about writing a newsletter why not have a go at doing it and see if it's for you. Even if you put one together, you don't have to send it out at all, so you've got nothing to lose.
Exceptional Thinking (http://www.exceptionalthinking.co.uk ) provides advice, help and support to small business owners on their marketing and to people starting up in business.