by Joelle Steele

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How do you manage to keep your name uppermost in the minds of clients and prospective clientele? For most companies advertising in the yellow pages or putting up a Web site is the primary effort made towards promoting their business. Some companies additionally send out flyers promoting new services or special offers. These methods work to some degree, but they have very specific shortcomings. For instance, advertising does nothing to promote positive relations with existing clients, Web sites rely on occasional and irregular visits, and flyers frequently end up in the waste basket before ever reaching the decision maker.

Marketing experts agree that a combination of methods is the most effective way to foster name recognition and encourage sales: advertising, direct mail (or E-mail), networking, publicity, and telemarketing. Of those five methods, none works better than a direct mail campaign. When properly executed, direct mail can be extremely effective in generating a response. But most people only send out letters, coupons, and brochures. To make direct mail really work for you, nothing is better than a regular monthly or semi-monthly newsletter. Newsletters are a terrific vehicle for advertising your products and services, and for educating and maintaining direct contact with your clients and prospective clients.

There is just this one rather large problems with newsletters. They take time and a certain amount of expertise to produce on a regular basis. Take it from somebody who single-handedly produced a variety of monthly and semi-monthly newsletters (and magazines) over a period of 12 years — this is not something you can just knock out in a couple of hours on a slow afternoon! Even the shortest of newsletters takes time. You have to write it and format it into some readable format, either for the printer, to enclose in an E-mail, to attach as a PDF to an E-mail, or as a download at your Web site.

Newsletters are great, but they should be produced by someone who has a combination of writing, marketing, and Web experience, as well as knowledge of your products or services. Trying to foist the job off onto an already busy secretary or bookkeeper will just result in problems. Your newsletter has to be well thought out and carefully produced in order for you to see the results of such a public relations effort. If you don't have the personnel to do it, you may have to research the Internet for someone who writes and produces custom newsletters, possibly even ones for your particular industry. The latter use a format that is rather generic, and then customize it to meet your needs by adding specific information about what you're doing and what you sell.

Newsletters should not only say what you're doing, but should also help the reader in some way. So do some careful thinking about what you want to say to your readers, ad then say it! You will immediately begin to maintain positive client relations and increase your sales efforts at the same time.

This article last updated: 03/27/2000.