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Newsletters and e-news

A newsletter is often the main way you engage in an ongoing conversation with your consumers.  It’s a key brand building tool, a selling tool, a communication tool and a relationship builder. 

The advantage of a newsletter is that it is a regular thing. No-one wants to get every new iteration of your brochure or marketing material, but they will at least accept and look at a newsletter if it usually provides items, updates and offers of interest. You want readers to start reading, irrespective of whether they have an overwhelming immediate need to buy more wine. That need hopefully will strike them as they read!

Print or email?

There is no simple answer to this question. To a large extent it depends on how your customers prefer to receive news (ask them) and which format you are best equipped to produce.

Emails have convenience and immediacy but they can be easily deleted unread from crowded inboxes and they do tend to say “read me now, it’s important”. If the news isn’t that important, the moment may be lost. People get a lot of “e-news” material these days!

A printed newsletter, however, is more like a magazine – you can take it anywhere, read it any time, and stick articles of the fridge. It also has more scope for presentation – which of course means you have to spend time on presentation, or know someone who will. And there is the cost of printing and postage.

But you do have to make an effort with an e-news as well. The days of sending out unformatted emails or PDF attachments are long gone. If you want to send out a regular e-news that has impact, have a designer create a template that will look great and be easy to use. Also factor in the time taken to distribute the e-news if you have a large database, or the cost of subscribing to a commercial distribution system.

Content

Whatever the format there are two rules when developing a newsletter:

  1. Start small and let it grow. Too many newsletters die – or more commonly just dwindle away through lack of interest and inclination – because people are overambitious about how much they will regularly have to say and how much time they will have to say it.
  2. Develop a structure that provides interest for readers and makes it easier for you each issue. There is nothing more daunting than staring at four blank pages with only one story in mind. If you have a number of regular features (wine tasting tips, stories heard at the cellar door, regional news, a photo series) then slabs of the four pages fill more easily. And people will watch out for the next photo.

Don’t, however, fall into the trap of filling endless pages with anecdotes about life among the vines, your recent travels, the damn rain and the dog’s latest trick. They are customers, not friends (yet). A good newsletter doesn’t have to be all about you. People keep going back to a publication if it entertains and informs them. If I enjoy your newsletter and part of it promotes your wine, then we both win.

Give stories a newsy edge. “Hottest Summer on Record” is just a statement of fact; “Summer Sun Delivers Best Red Wines on Record”, followed by a lead-in that predicts just how good these wines will be but warns of limited supply, will induce further reading.

And be careful with humour.  What’s funny to you might not be for your reader, so unless your humour is distinctive and a unique “feature” of your brand promise and communication style, use it sparingly.

When it comes to the selling bit, make the offer clear and compelling. Tell the reader exactly what they will get, and how they will feel. Give them “proof” that their purchase decision is a good one (a good review or customer comment). Tell them what will happen if they don’t act now (the stock is limited and they’ll miss out). Spell out how to make a purchase (phone number, email, web link) and give them a time line for action. 

Remember the “AIDA principle”:

  • Create Attention – This is the role of your headline.
  • Generate Interest – State clearly the features, advantages and benefits (Your mixed dozen contains a selection of summer friendly wines… which will match any holiday occasion… so all you need to do is chill them and serve to your guests).
  • Elicit Desire – Demonstrate why your customer has to have this particular offer and how they will feel when they do.  Reinforce the importance of acting now and the consequences of missing out.
  • Demand Action – Your call to action must be stated clearly.  Tell the reader exactly how to go about taking advantage of your offer.  Provide the order form, web link, email address or telephone number – or all of them if the choice is available.

Struggling with words?

If writing just isn’t your thing, and you know your time is better spent on other aspects of the business, contract someone to write for you and ensure you get the best possible outcome. A bad newsletter can actually be counterproductive.

You don’t have to call in a big PR company or an award-winning author. Ask around locally about someone with the right skills and some experience in helping people put their thoughts in order. If they’ve produced newsletters before, so much the better.

 

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