Share a bit of yourself

Some newsletters are cookie cutter, without any personality of the sender. It’s helpful to have at least one article in each issue of your newsletter that talks about you. That may be a little awkward, if you’re a shrinking violet. So if you don’t want to write about yourself, write about your dog. Really.

People buy from people that they know, like and trust. Revealing a bit of yourself, and some of your little imperfections will help your audience to feel like they know you. On a small business marketing podcast that I’m a part of, www.YourGrandIdea.com, my co-host, Todd Skaggs and I reveal one bit of trivia about either of us on almost every episode. In some small way, you want your audience to connect with you and know you.

So, things I’ve shared about myself either in my newsletter or podcast? My favorite Igloo cooler that’s lasted over 35 years, I just bought my first bow tie since I was 8 years old, I’m learning Spanish, I like baseball, I once dumped a glass of ice tea onto a business prospect, I don’t like to see people texting when they’re sharing a meal with friends, etc., etc.

If you have trouble remembering what to write, keep a special note place in your mobile device or in a notebook, so when it’s time to write you’ll be able to share a little of yourself.

To your success,

Kevin

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One seed was dormant for years, but then…

A few years ago we did score a small one time job (a few hundred dollars) as a direct result of sending our company newsletter to prospective clients. In my core business of office cleaning, my objective is to obtain regular contract cleaning customers. Sometimes a one time job can get my foot in the door. That was my objective here, but it didn’t work out at the time. Interestingly, my newsletter had introduced me in advance because as the person met me in their lobby for the first time she told me, “I recognize you from your newsletter!”

Some time later I learned that Angela, who had been our point of contact person for the one time job, had moved on. So I couldn’t send her the newsletter anymore, but I did send it to her replacement. We’re still trying to get that business. But then something else happened just recently…

Although it had been years, and she had moved to a nearby town, Angela remembered us. She was now in charge of HR at a different company and asked us to come and bid on the work where she now is. She told me she had remembered the newsletter and had kept my business card in her desk for 2 years. (My business card looks like a folded $100 bill). The bid for their business is pending, and Angela is once again on my newsletter mailing list!

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What if I have just a few newsletters to produce?

Everybody starts somewhere. Perhaps your company is small. Or maybe you just want to start small with newsletters. There’s no need for you to talk to a printer about placing an order if you just want to print these on your own computer.

Just use regular 8.5 x 11 inch paper. Print it on both sides. One sheet of paper yields a two page newsletter. Or double it for a four page newsletter. If you want the look of a mini booklet, just us 11×17 paper for a 4 page newsletter where each page is 8.5 x 11. If that doesn’t make sense, just think that half of 17″ is 8.5″.

If you want the 11×17 size but don’t have it in your office, or your printer doesn’t handle that size, you can check with your local copy and print center. My small town has a Staples store. I can even email the file to them. I’ve found that PDF format works well. Just check their work before you walk out the door. I had a walk in order in the evening, and the clerk was nice but not experienced. He had to re-do the order a few times until he got the right orientation.

You can place the newsletters in an envelope or you can fold them in thirds and mail them alone. That’s called a self-mailer. Just check with the post office to make sure the tabs (like circular tape) are in the right place. Take in a sample to the post office to be sure before you do the whole lot.

Start somewhere. Just start.

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Tell Them What You’re Going To Tell Them

This strategy is optional, but you’ll find it helpful. There are two main types of reading styles. One person is the ultra-analytical, reading every word. Then there is the rest of mankind: we skim to find things of interest. Actually one person can go back and forth between different reading styles.

If something is of passing interest, our eyes scan down the page to see what pops out. We tend to read the headline, then the first sentence of each paragraph until we decide if the topic merits closer examination. If it does, we then use the other reading style: perusing every word. So in your easy newsletter, it is helpful if you recognize that tendency. What to do: provide this dual readership path easily.

Two easy ways of doing that are: 1) provide a table of contents to tell the reader what you’re going to tell them, or at least you’ll list the main articles or regular features of the newsletter. For instance, it may include “Tips for Introverts”, page 1, My column, page 2, Trivia contest, page 4, etc.

2) a second way to provide a dual readership path is to use bold font to highlight main points. Or sometimes I will use it to bold the first sentence in each paragraph of an article. That way readers can decide if this article is something they want to read or if they want to move on.

We’ve all seen things to read that are daunting just to look at. Small font, long sentences, never-ending paragraphs are all a turn-off to readership. So a bonus tip is to include short paragraphs. It makes your information easier to digest, whether in a newsletter, or online in a blog.

To your success,

Kevin

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What to Highlight and What to Spotlight in Your Easy Newsletter

So, what can you include in your easy newsletter if you want to customize your content? You could feature the spotlight on one of your employees. Besides their name and how long they’ve worked for you, what are their interests and hobbies? What family do they have (that they want to talk about)? What do they like about working for you?

Todd, a friend of mine, says that sometimes he will get a call from a customer asking to be featured in his newsletter. They may have a new building or a newsworthy item that Todd can include in his next issue. When you write an article about your customer, get a copy of that newsletter framed and give it to him as a gift. He will mount it on his wall and your relationship will be cemented.

Newsletters are about building relationships. So see what you can include and especially WHO you can put in your next newsletter. Is your favorite charity putting on an event? Encourage your customers and your favorite charity to let you know of their calendar. Then have them take a picture and send it to you. Include it in your next issue and you’ll make fast friends and build new business.

And if you don’t know what to write about? Just use lots of pictures. Include names and how to identify people in the pictures. People first look at pictures, then they read the captions. So make the most of both in your easy newsletter!

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Interview: How business owners and managers use a company newsletter

Just a quick note…. If you’d like to listen to an audio interview on how business owners are
using newsletters, check out this link. www.YourGrandIdea.com/idea/28/
You can even download the mp3 file to listen to later. Todd Skaggs and I discuss newsletter
strategies in our award-winning podcast. Our program was selected by Social Media Explorer
as “1 of 16 Must-listen Business Podcasts”

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Don’t start and stop. Be consistent in sending your newsletter monthly

Consistency trumps everything else in importance. Great company newsletters show up like clockwork. You can count on them reaching your customers every month with solid information, helpful tips, and good ideas. Consistency so outweighs factors such as how many pages your newsletter is, whether it’s color or black and white, or even the quality of what’s in it. Don’t worry about how slick and professionally glossy your newsletter may not be. Getting it to your audience is more important.

Lack of consistency is a common mistake. No matter how good the content your newsletter contains if you aren’t consistent with sending your newsletter. It just becomes infrequent (but just as unwelcome) junk mail.

You simply must have consistency and frequency in order to build trust and relationships. That trust and those relationships turn into a long-term competitive edge and ultimately, business success.

Think of it this way: Magazines and other periodicals arrive monthly, right on
schedule. “Periodicals” arrive “periodically”, on a given schedule. When newsletters are produced monthly on a regular schedule, they have a higher perceived value. They build a stronger bond and brand with your customers. The result? Your clients look forward to them.

If you publish infrequently, you lose that important top-of-mind position. If you publish too often with print and email, your clients may be overwhelmed. Publishing your easy newsletter monthly helps you to develop habits and get into the rhythm of production. Your customers will get used to hearing from you at the same time each and every month. Kind of like Pavlov’s dogs, not to diminish the value of a client!

Think of your marketing efforts too. If you’ve got a special sales promotion planned, build up anticipation for it in the newsletter for two months prior. Then, when it’s promotion time, your marketing efforts will have the way paved for them by your newsletter articles. Your salespeople can get in on the act by handing out newsletters as promotional flyers.

Let’s recap: Consistency is the most important element of great company newsletters.
Mail them the same time every month. Your customers will salivate in anticipation. Send your newsletter every month and you’ll build better relationships, improve customer retention, and capture more new clients.

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Complaints stopped

For my other business of office cleaning, sometimes our people goof. We have great people who are conscientious. But occasionally there is a small breakage or an oversight. For instance at an office we clean, one of our team members was vacuuming and they accidentally caught the charging cord to someone’s cell phone that was hidden under their desk. The cord was ruined, wrapped up and stripped in the vacuum roller bar.

While we try to avoid boo boos, things happen. And when they do, we try to do more than make someone whole. In this case we bought the person a new power cord. But we also bought a Starbucks gift card and sent a greeting card with the gift and a written apology.

But what really made the positive difference was when we added the person to our newsletter mailing list. That also shows care and concern. And they receive the newsletter monthly. It is important to turn around a person’s attitude if they are upset, deservedly so or not. If the critic is not converted to a fan, the attitude can spread to others like a cancer. Then before you know it, people start looking for issues to complain about. Sending a newsletter to the person we goofed up with has stopped the complaints cold. And then they become a fan.

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How to add or change a photo in Your Easy Newsletter template using Microsoft Word

Admittedly, tech things that should be simple for me have in the past turned into frustrations. So you may be more intuitive than I am when it comes to photo editing.

Here’s the easiest way I’ve found to add a photo to your newsletter template:

Step 1: single-click on an existing photo. You will notice that blue dots will appear on the four corners of the photo, and little blue squares will appear at the midway points on each of the 4 sides. These can be moved in order to resize your picture. You’ll also see a green dot above the top of the picture. That green dot can be clicked on if you have a need to rotate the picture.

Step 2: Click on the “Insert” tab, located next to the Home tab in the upper left corner of Word.

Step 3: Select “picture”. Then you’ll be able to choose a picture from your My Pictures files or wherever you keep your pictures.

Step 4: Single click on the picture of your choice. It will then appear in your newsletter, but probably not in exactly the place or size of your choice.

Step 5: Resize the new picture by dragging its corners (using those blue dots referenced above). Place the picture where you want it by holding down the left mouse button and dragging it to the right place. You can also delete the picture you’re replacing by selecting it with one click of your mouse and then pressing the ‘delete’ button on your keyboard. And as always, save your document/newsletter.

There are other ways of accomplishing the same thing, but I’ve found this to be the easiest.

To your success!
Kevin

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Should I mail my company newsletter in an envelope or as a self-mailer?

How you mail your newsletter is up to you of course. A self-mailer means that the newsletter is mailed by itself, not in an envelope. To do so, plan for the space to put your return address as well as the addressee, whom you’re mailing it to. Also, leave appropriate space for the postage. Check with USPS.com to find out appropriate current guidelines for “tabbing” your newsletter. When the newsletter is folded in half or in thirds, you must have an approved way of sealing it so it doesn’t come open during mailing. Regulations may change, but currently if you have the open end of the folded newsletter at the top, put 2 sticky tabs at the top to hold the paper closed. There are circular tabs (check on the right size, but about 1 inch is correct) available at any office supply store. They can even be clear and perforated so the newsletter is easy to open and you’re not covering up any of the print. As of the date of this post the link to the USPS website (see section 3.13) that discusses this is http://pe.usps.com/archive/html/dmmarchive0514/201.htm#wp1042746

If you have a local printing company print and mail your newsletter, they can handle all this for you. And if you have about 250 copies to mail they may have discount postage rates available to pass along to you.

If you mail it yourself and you have lower quantities, just put 1st class postage or a Forever stamp on it. The points on postage apply to whether it is a self-mailer or put in an envelope.

Why envelopes? Or why not? It does cost a bit more, perhaps a few cents or up to ten cents more per newsletter. Pros: it may be viewed as more important if it comes in an envelope. Also, you can have a message printed on the envelope too. And it is easier to include an extra sheet of paper in the newsletter, perhaps a special offer for the month. Cons: just the cost.

Don’t fret over this decision. Just get your company newsletter out the door!

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