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Why Most Newsletters Don’t Work

part two: For Effective Newsletter Content, Get Real


Newsletters to clients do generate results. Yet, many business people who issue a newsletter find it frustrating to generate the results they want. Those not willing to give up on their newsletter ought to get real about newsletter content.

what newsletters do

A good newsletter might never cause a spike in sales. However, if you watch other indicators over time – amount of business per client, referrals from newsletter readers, and overall client retention – then you could see how a newsletter performs as an investment in client retention and net business growth.

Newsletters shape market perception. Good newsletters help to build and maintain hundreds or thousands of business relationships through regular, meaningful engagement.  


what to say

For many, producing a newsletter is demanding and time-consuming – especially when content that the issuer wants to communicate elicits difficult-to-measure results.


Some report news to readers already swamped with news. Some offer persuasive articles or clever commentaries to readers who really don’t need to be convinced of their expertise. Some offer lists, tables, and graphs. These, too, come with the risk that readers might feel anything meaningful. So, if a newsletter is best used as a tool of relationship management, with what content?


the cost of off-the-shelf content

Many newsletter issuers feel tempted just to buy off-the-shelf content: already-written material not reflecting any specific knowledge of their particular readers. You can find that at a reasonable price. But what is its reputation-shaping effect? Your clients can tell when your message is not really yours.


meaningful, brand aligned

Because a newsletter for clients intrinsically assumes a business relationship between the issuer and the reader, a newsletter inevitably functions as a medium of client relationship management. Moreover, your clients can tell when you’re involved in your newsletter or not. Hence the advantage of original, brand-aligned newsletter content that authentically reflects the relationship between the actual newsletter issuer and each reader.


the cost of do-it-yourself content

Accordingly, some choose to keep the connection with clients alive by developing their own newsletter content. This entails a commitment to produce meaningful, well-written newsletters on schedule.

These basic assumptions then arise:

  1. You need to have talent and creativity.
  2. You have to provide value in the newsletter, such as advice, insider tips, or discounts.
  3. You must educate readers on points related to your business or industry.


In practice, these basic assumptions stop some from issuing their own newsletters. Though these are worth considering, they are not must-haves. What readers really need from you is heart.


survey says…

Gallup research shows that the key to wooing customers isn't price or even product. It's emotion. Gallup developed an eleven-question survey to understand client engagement (CE 11). Eight of those questions (73%) probe emotional engagement. (Alec Applebaum: The Constant Customer, Gallup Management Journal 06/17/01)


emotional engagement

When you engage clients emotionally which often follows from showing your own emotional engagement that leads to more loyal, profitable business. People go out of their way to deal with businesses whose values they respect, whose style they like, and who engage with them sincerely. When people respond by believing in you, they show loyalty to you: continuing to bring their business to you, increasing the business they bring to you, and referring others to you.


medium for meaningful contact

When a newsletter makes people feel good about themselves in connection with the newsletter issuer (e.g. it validates or harmonizes with their own values) then it can create a feeling of connectedness. When that sense of connectedness is maintained through meaningful contact (e.g. a quarterly, brand-aligned newsletter) then competitors’ attempts at wooing them away prove less effective.


Why not…

  • celebrate their interests?
  • acknowledge what they like about you?
  • show gratitude for your connection with them?
  • declare the satisfaction you find in serving them?


measure engagement

In addition to issuing an engaging business newsletter, also set realistic performance expectations and measures. Efforts to optimize newsletter performance should reflect on-going business objectives, such as:

  • stronger client loyalty and retention
  • more, higher-quality referrals
  • more business per client.


get real sincerely

Newsletters are naturally brand-management tools. Good brand management is good client relationship management. If you think in terms of client relations maintaining the connection and managing the client experience then you can improve your business with a newsletter that shows your true colours. That’s getting real.


- Glenn R Harrington, Articulate Consultants Inc.


Part One: Newsletter Success - How to Monitor It


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