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8 Company Newsletter Ideas to Try Out

Need some company newsletter ideas? Here are eight to consider.

1. Private Sale/Private Offering. Construct a newsletter around a special sale or offering that will be available to subscribers only. Promote this fact on Twitter and Facebook and grow your list while you’re at it. I recently worked on this concept for one of my retail clients, and we got a good number of sales out of it as a result.

2. Inside Views. I don’t know about you, but I love learning about the real people in companies, especially those I do business with. In a time when corporate “spin” is in our faces more than ever thanks to the Internet, it’s refreshing to hear real thoughts and real views from real people. Do a “Q&A” feature with some of the people in your company. Ask questions that invite real answers — in other words, answers that provide insight into who these people are as human beings (e.g. favorite movie, favorite book, three songs queued on their iPods).

3. Highlight Charitable Giving. I’m not suggesting that you toot your own horn, but what you can do is provide real exposure to some of the charities and nonprofit organizations that you and your employees support. (Always a crowd pleaser in November.)

4. Blog Roundup. Sure, we want to believe our clients and prospects are flocking to our blogs and hanging on every word we write, but the truth is, life happens. Even when you consistently post great articles, not everyone will see them the first time around. So do a newsletter article where you recap those key blog posts: ones that garnered the most comments, ones that provoked controversy, and ones you feel are important “can’t miss” articles. This strategy can work well when you’re tight on time and can’t bang out a complete article or when you’re coming off the holidays or summer, since people might have missed some key blog posts due to travels and general craziness. For many of my clients, we’ll do this at least once a quarter.

5. In their own words. Ever thought of giving one of your clients the pulpit? Somewhere between a customer story and a customer testimonial, a customer letter “in his or her own words” could be refreshing. DO NOT EDIT CONTENT. Simply fix glaring punctuation/spelling errors and anything that’s factually inaccurate.

6. How’d we do that? You take what you do for granted, but chances are you have some readers who might be really curious about a certain aspect of your business. For example, if you’re an online retailer, you could provide insight on how you choose the lines you carry. If you’re a custom cabinetmaker, you could do a before and after “refurbishing” series, complete with images or video. You get the idea.

7. Do the opposite of what you normally do. Do you usually focus on customer stories? Offer some how-to articles instead. Do you normally write long articles? Find one great image — like a cartoon — that gets your point across and then attach it to an offer. People find value in any number of things. Mixing it up is a great way to keep your audience engaged.

8. Did You Know? Chances are your customers — even your best customers — don’t know everything that you do or every product you offer. Take a hard look at service offerings or products that you think should be resulting in more business. Then highlight two or three in a “Did You Know We Offer This” sort of article.

Need help coming up with fun things to put in a newsletter? Hi. Contact me.

Messaging Strategies: Two Approaches

I recently worked on a messaging project for a client who’s in an industry where everyone says the same thing. Part of the reason for the message’s “sameness” is due to legal and compliancy issues. But the other reason has to do with fear.

When I thought about it, I realized this situation is no different from any other messaging challenge for any other industry. Basically, you can approach messaging in one of two ways:

1. Churn out the same consistent (and often expected ) messages that many, if not all, of your competitors are churning out and focus on your reach and how often you bombard the market with your message

Or

2. Turn the message upside down and on its head. Choose a different message that no one else is focusing on and/or take risks in how you deliver the message

Both strategies have pros and cons. But knowing which strategy you’re going to use will help make other decisions (like who to use for your marketing and writing) go more smoothly.

The Anatomy of a Great Offer

Dear Copy Bitch: I’m launching a new website (I’m a fellow copywriter), and I wanted to know if you had any ideas for great offers. I can come up with this stuff for clients, but it’s hard to do it for myself.

—Steve T., Santa Monica, CA

ANSWER: Congrats, Steve! But before I answer, I must address that pesky pachyderm in the room. I know some people are wondering why I’d give advice to a copywriter, i.e. a competitor. Simple. I believe there’s enough room for all of us. Competition is good because it ensures we writers (lawyers, marketers, politicians) do as good of a job as we possibly can. I also believe in the concept of paying it forward. Many people have helped me along the way after all.

Okay, enough of the philosophizing. Let’s talk about the anatomy of a great offer. Here are some traits that I think all great offers have:

  1. It will provide me with something that I consider valuable.
  2. It’s easy to access.
  3. It’s easy to understand and/or use.

1. Make Valuable Offers

So how do you figure out what people will consider valuable?

Ask current customers. Shoot them a quick email or make a quick call and ask them what they would get excited about seeing available on your website.

Ask potential customers.
Think of the type of business owners you want to do business with, and ask them what they would consider valuable. Chances are if you don’t directly know some of these people, you know someone who does.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Picture yourself as a business owner who lands on your website. What sort of information would be valuable? Tips on how to proofread more effectively? A 21-point guide on creating blog posts that get people talking? A step-by-step tutorial on writing an effective web page?

Worried that these types of offers give away too many trade secrets? Don’t. Educating your clients or prospective clients on certain writing tasks won’t put you out of a job. (Empowering people is never a bad thing. Well, at least in this case.) What it will likely do is 1) make them appreciate what you do even more and/or 2) make them advocate for you (especially if they’re reporting to people further up the food chain).

Something else to keep in mind: I believe in crafting multiple offers. Make them page specific. So if you have a service page on website copywriting, craft your offer around that. For example, a document called “What’s a title tag and why should I care?” might work well on this page.

2. Make Your Offers Easy to Access

Don’t make people email or call you. Make the offers free and downloadable off your site. Use simple forms (i.e. make the forms short). Get only enough info so that you can continue to stay in front of people, but don’t ask people to surrender every last shred of information about themselves. Don’t  use automatic opt-ins. If you have a question like “Do you want to subscribe to my newsletter,” make sure the “yes” box isn’t automatically checked. After someone hits “submit,” make sure whatever it is that people just signed up for—a document, a coupon, a webinar, access to a private area of your site—is obvious. Include easy-to-read directions if your offer involves anything that involves more than one step. A nice touch? Automated emails that include information around your offer.

3. Make Offers Easy to Understand

In your case, you’ll probably be providing tip sheets, white papers, and tutorials. Remember the KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid). These items are not the place to show off jargon or impress people with your literary prowess. Instead, provide readable, practical information that a 10-year-old can follow, digest, and start using today.

The same holds true no matter what the offer is. If I run an online store, and I offer a coupon code, it should be clear as to what the code is and how and where I’m supposed to use it.

The best way to make sure you’ve taken care of items #2 and #3 is to test it yourself and then have some other folks go through the process.

Hope this helps!