How to Get Your Newsletter Read

Written by Debra Scala Giokas  |  25. March 2002

Bills, catalogs, thank you notes, fundraising letters and a bunch of newsletters make up my Monday morning pile. In my hurry to get to work, why did I stop to read some of these newsletters? As a marketing professional, I appreciate the time and effort that goes into the making of a newsletter. Having taken many seminars over the years in newsletter editing, design and production, I have often been told that a newsletter is a "short walk to the wastebasket." But there are ways to make your newsletter get read. Here are 5 winning tips that will make your newsletter an award winner. And the envelope please: 1) Question. Include a question such as, "Do you want to know the secret for longer life?" A newsletter from a real estate professional featured a piece on the scientific research confirming the secret to a longer life. This newsletter had a magazine-like quality to it; it offered me information I want to read-- not just promotional stuff. In case you are curious, the answer was optimism. 2) Quote. I stop to read the words of wisdom. They usually hit home. Sometimes, I even cut them off and clip them on my corkboard. If you are smart, make sure you list your company's name underneath the box of quotes. If it makes the clipboard, you want your name to be visible. Get yourself a dictionary of quotations for future reference and use. 3) Use Humor. Use a cartoon. Everyone needs some comic relief. Think about the popularity of e-mail jokes that get distributed throughout the day. Cartoons also offer a visual tool. You want to place as many "gimmicks" in your newsletter as possible. Catch the eye. Make your reader laugh. 4) Write well. Use powerful verbs and write well. I am a big fan of E.B. White's Elements of Style. If you don't have a copy, go and buy one. One of his tips is "never use a long word when a short word will do." If you try to impress your audience with large words, you may lose your audience. A smart writer strives to appeal to the most amount of readers. Speak their language. And don't forget that some of the most memorable sentences have been created by the smallest of words. "To be or not to be, that is the question." I rest my case. 5)Add value. Most importantly, you must answer the question, "So what?" If someone reads your newsletter all the way through and asks, "So what?" You have lost a reader. The next time you mail your newsletter, it will become a short walk to the wastebasket. Offer advice and offer it in list format. "Tips" are great ways to fill the pages with value and not take much writing time. When you give value away, it is a softer sell. Don't use the pages to toot your own horn. In this way, your newsletter will be read. And, isn't that what you want after all? Good Luck and Happy Spring!

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