Newsletters Are Smart Marketing for Small Businesses

Keep in touch with your clients

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Newsletters are one of the best ways to keep your name in front of the eyes of your clients, your associates, and others in your target market. They show you are more than just someone looking for projects and that you are willing to pass on information to help others run their own businesses. Newsletters also complement other forms of internet marketing such as emailsbusiness websites, blogging, social media, etc.

Think about how many newsletters you read each week or month and the types of articles and other information in them you find most helpful. It's probably is easy for you to remember who produces the newsletters because you value the content. This is the kind of impact you want your newsletter to have with your own audience. Follow some important tips to create the best newsletter for your small business.

Formats

Newsletters can be produced in several formats. For businesses, the most economical and readily acceptable formats are plain text emails, HTML emails, HTML pages on your website, PDFs, and printed documents. Each newsletter format has its advantages and disadvantages.

FormatProsCons
Plain Text Email

Easy to format

No expensive software required

Obsolete. Can't include graphics or fancy formatting
HTML Email

Visually appealing

Allows for creativity

Restricted in size

Can be fully viewed only while readers are online

HTML Web Page

Endless possibilities for design

Plenty of room for content and graphics

Can be as large as you like

No need to send as an email attachment

Takes time to design

Readers must be online to view

PDF

Endless possibilities for design

Plenty of room for content and graphics

Can be as large as you like

Can send as a text email with PDF attached

Readers can save to their computer and read at their leisure

The larger the format, the longer to produce

Need an application that can handle PDF content

Print

Endless possibilities for design

Plenty of room for content and graphics

Can be as large as you like

Expensive to print and mail

Deciding which newsletter format to use and how frequently you publish your newsletter may be a process of trial and error, and the nature of your business certainly impacts this. For simple announcements or updates, text-only emails might be sufficient, but charts, graphs, and links to online resources would demand HTML email.

If you are in a graphics-oriented business, you might want something more visually appealing. For that, PDFs or web-based newsletters generally are the best options. Print also can be an appealing option, but printing and distribution costs are limiting. If your audience is small, print might be affordable. Otherwise, it's probably not the best option unless you're trying to make a big splash.

Tools for producing newsletters already are available in most office settings. Word processing programs like Microsoft Word, Apple's Pages, or Google Docs have enough flexibility for simple newsletters. Microsoft Publisher offers more tools, but it lacks compatibility with other design programs. The best option is Adobe's Creative Suite, which includes InDesign and Photoshop, but it is expensive if it's only being used for newsletters. However, design-oriented businesses likely already have multiple licenses.

Types of Content 

Your target audience determines the content you want to include, but always be sure to make your content timely. Developments in the industry and national or world events can impact the relevance of your content. When changes occur, be sure to provide content as soon as possible that addresses how you are responding to those changes.

If events render current or previous newsletter content obsolete, be sure to provide timely updates.

In addition to being timely, content should be informative. Examples include financial updates, new products or services in development or recently launched, staff changes, upcoming events, or even the results of the latest company softball game. Profiles of employees that highlight what they do for the company always are popular. You also can include profiles of clients that show how they use the products or services you offer.

Producing Content

Producing content takes time, and it does require one person being assigned the role of newsletter editor. Depending on the type of newsletter, its frequency, and the scope of its content, this can range from a few hours per week to a full-time position within a marketing or communications department.

Even with a single editor, content still can come from multiple sources. Department heads can be asked to supply relevant updates to be included in the newsletter, and all employees can be encouraged to submit content they think is worth sharing.

Electronic newsletters also can provide links to other relevant sources of information. For example, if a publication specific to your industry has an article you think is worth sharing, you can provide a brief description of the article in your newsletter along with a link to the original content.

Advertising

In professionally designed newsletters with wide enough distribution, it's reasonable to include advertising, but it should be minimal and specific to your industry. If your newsletter is primarily a means of promoting your business to clients and potential clients, advertising probably is a bad idea because it takes from your company.

However, if your newsletter is primarily informational for employees and others, a few discrete ads promoting relevant products or services can help cover the cost of producing the newsletter. Advertising trades are another possibility. As opposed to accepting an ad for revenue, you accept an ad in exchange for a place in another company's newsletter if it is mutually beneficial to do so.

Promotion

Regardless of the format you choose for your newsletters, they always should be available on your website either in PDF format or as individual web pages on your company website. A small section of your website can be dedicated to a newsletter archive and a form for people to sign up to receive the newsletters by email or mail, if applicable.

In addition to emailing newsletters when they become available, post them on social media. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, and other sites to alert followers to the latest newsletter and include a link for where they can find it.