Published August 1, 1998

How to Write a Newsletter: Starting a Small Business Newsletter!

Do you keep in touch with the clients you had last year? Two years ago? Several years ago? Do they know that you're still around? What about those prospects you've been meaning to contact... do you feel a little awkward calling them "cold?'' Having your own newsletter might be the answer you're looking for.

A newsletter is one of the most effective marketing tools you can use. It is a professional, non-threatening way to say "hello'' to your prospects and "I'm still around'' to your clients. You can use it to educate them about current issues and developments in your area of consulting and, at the same time, market your services/products. By sending useful information to your prospects and clients on a regular basis, you can maintain constant contact without being annoying. You can personally introduce yourself to prospects by writing an article requiring their input. This not only flatters them, but positions you in a positive light. Your newsletter will enhance your credibility and prominence in the marketplace. Depending on the quality, you can use it as a profit center by charging a subscription and can sell/resell your articles to other publications.

Producing your newsletter doesn't have to be a monumental task. You probably have a word processor and a printer. That's good enough to get started. If you want to get really creative, consider using a desktop publishing program with a laser printer. There are several inexpensive desktop publishing programs available and you don't need a postscript printer.

Determine the size of your newsletter. Most are between 8- 16 pages, but there are no restrictions. Some consultants simply use a two-sided 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper. Your size will depend on how much information you want (and have available) to include. You should also decide on the frequency of publication. This is based on how much time you have to do the work. If you do not charge for the newsletter, publishing it every quarter is a comfortable pace for both you and your readers. Next, produce a template for your layout. Go to your local library and check out some books on graphical design and layout. They will help you to create your newsletter's "look.''

Now it's time for the guts of your newsletter. Concentrate on topics that your readers will be interested in, not the ones that only you find fascinating. Try to use real-life applications. For example, if you develop PC-based databases for the insurance industry, you can describe past projects and maybe even interview an old client or two. This way, you tell your audience how you solved a problem that relates to them and conveys that you are a competent professional. You can write about the pros and cons of dealing with brokers, how to hire a consultant (to show them how easy and beneficial it is to hire you!), the latest developments in your field, and many other topics that are important to your audience.

If all this is too much work for you but you still want to reap the rewards of reaching your prospects and clients regularly, you can buy generic newsletters. You simply put your company label on the front and send it to your prospects and clients. You can also have your name printed on the newsletter provided that you buy large quantities.

With your own newsletter, you will have consistent, positive exposure to those who hire you.