Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Writing a Newsletter: The Printed Product

In last week's post, we discussed the need for you to add a newsletter to your marketing arsenal. Quick recap:

  1. Emails still grab the attention of the reader;
  2. Emails, and newsletters, provide a way for you to "talk" to your customers, to your buyers, to your constituents; and
  3. Newsletters can easily become printed materials.
I'd like to begin with newsletters as printed materials.  And here's why:

  • You can take your newsletters everywhere you go: to work (if you have a day job), to your church or religious institution, to your grocery store or any place in your community you can place leave-behinds. 
  • Do you frequent area stores where you'd like your product to be sold? Your newsletters are excellent collateral material to showcase your product if you have nothing else on hand.
  • Do you do craft shows? Newsletters are excellent materials to have on hand for someone who appears seriously interested in your product but is just not ready to commit to a purchase.
  • Your best future customers are your existing customers. What better way to continue to market your product than to include a newsletter with an order or to mail it to those who have purchased from you?
So now that you're commited to the opportunities a written newsletter can bring you, how do you begin?

First, observe the KISS method: Keep It Simple, Sweetheart.  My printed newsletter is only two pages, one sheet printed front and back.  It contains three articles on the front, and product and fragrance offerings on the back. This way, I'm able to keep my design and editorial content to a minimum, making better use of my limited time. Let's dissect each page.

Page one:

The first step in the KISS method is to use a predesigned template.  Mine is from Microsoft Publisher, but other office products or design softwares have easy to use templates.  Customize the newsletter to your brand using your logo or other designs affiliated with your product.  Next, take time to update your contact information.  After all, this is the primary reason you are producing a newsletter: to encourage potential customers to get in touch with you! I don't recommend using all of your social media channels, but do use the ones most people will recognize: your Etsy or e-commerce store, your facebook page, your email address.  You'll notice I do not include my blog.  For me and how I view my printed distribution list, my blog address just doesn't seem to "fit" on the masthead.  You may feel differently. That's ok.  It means you know your audience.

Second, determine your content.  The template I use has been developed for three articles, but I can easily make it four if needed.  Now, I will admit, content is fairly easy for me.  My largest article is always about my fragrance of the month.  It gives me the opportunity to describe the fragrances and why I chose them.  I'm talking to my audience, giving them insight into why I believe my product is something the reader will like. don't have a fragrance of the month? That's ok.  If you're a jeweler, perhaps you can use this space to discuss the monthly birthstone. Are your products ethereal? Discuss the zodiac.  If your product is artwork, showcase products of the season. My point is you need to find a way to relate to your customer's top of mind thought.

The second article is usually about a new product in my line.  I've been busy this past month and didn't have the time to develop fully, let alone to photograph, new products, so I tried to think about content that might be appealing to my audience.  What came to mind first is how candles can be used for home decorating.  Many people purchase candles based upon fragrance, but also upon appearance.  You seldom find a red candle in a yellow room.  People will complement the appearance of a candle to their home decor.  So guess what.....I cheated!!!!!  If you follow me on Pinterest, you know I routinely pin onto my "Decorating with Candles" board.  So for this article, I decided to use a photo that appealed to me as fall decor and then to write about it. (I'll address copyright to this in a future article.) I tried to give my reader a reason to think about making a candle purchase.  How does this relate to you? If you're a jeweler, perhaps you use this space to discuss jewelry care.  Are you ethereal? Use this space to discuss alternative therapies. Similar content to what may interest your audience.

My third article is usually my most difficult.  This is my "editorial". In my early days, I used this space to discuss my growth, my evolution. Now I might use this space to encourage readers to find my blog or my Pinterest boards. Sometimes I might discuss a price increase or a Facebook promotion. One time I included trivia about candles. It's always content that is more personal to me and my business.

Now, page two:

This page is easy, because it's my product page.  It does need to be updated from time to time, as I change container jars or add new product. And I'm always adding and removing scents from my fragrance list.  What if you don't carry "stock" product and every piece is unique?  Well, first, you should carry some stock product.  You can still retain the intellectual property to a "mass produced" item because it had to be original at some point. Second, until we make it to The Show, we need to make as much revenue as we can, and that is easier to do with an easily produced item.  So.....if you're a jeweler? Is there a style of earrings or necklace which sell well? Consider whether you can replicate them. Your supply costs will go down because you can purchase in greater quantities at less per item. And if you sell on Etsy or another e-commerce site, you won't have to spend time recreating a listing.  And time is money! If you produce artwork, can you package  your product into a more consumable item such as note cards? It's cheaper to mass produce note cards and can provide instant marketing of your work.

The entire time I spend on my newsletter is now seldom over two hours, and this includes developing my electronic version.  At this time, I print my newsletter in house only because I believe in providing a full color piece, and it is cost prohibitive at this time for me to go to a four piece printed version or even copies from Staple or Office Max.

Upcoming posts will address writing an electronic version, developing your mailing list, and marketing your newsletter.  Until then, what are your thoughts? What else would you like to know? You had great input and questions last time, some of which I tried to address in this posting. I encourage you to continue to ask your questions and to leave your feedback.

Thanks for reading!

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