You are convinced a newsletter will help your business. What do you need to get started on your e-zine?
• A permission-based list
Ask prospective customers to sign up for your mailing list. Offer something they perceive as valuable in exchange for a mailing address (for a print newsletter) or an e-mail address (for an e-zine).
• Knowledge and ability to apply the CAN-SPAM laws
This includes providing your contact information, creating a clear opt-out or cancellation mechanism, and never selling your list. Even if people give you their business card and contact information at a networking event, don’t add them to your list without their permission or you could be guilty of spamming.
• A newsletter template
Brand your business by creating a template. Include your logo, your company colors, your contact information, live links to your Web site and other areas of interest like your blog and your social networking sites, and a summary of benefits you offer.
• A clear purpose
Determine your purpose. Do you want to stay in touch with customers? Will you highlight new products? Can you provide valuable information that readers will want to share? Are you going after new clients? Your answers to these questions will influence what you want to include in your newsletter.
• A commitment to consistency
Decide how frequently you will publish your newsletter or distribute your e-zine. Take into account your schedule, your readers’ tolerance for additions to their mailbox or inbox, how much you have to say. Also factor in the cost of your time, printing, and mailing. Be consistent in your newsletter distribution so people remember you, expect to hear from you, and don’t dismiss you because you start then abandon projects.
Provide valuable information to your readers. Many newsletters include a feature article. You might also include a personal note or answer frequently asked questions. Share tips and great resources. Announce new products or services. List your upcoming events. Hold a contest. Offer special promotions. Highlight industry news. Review products. Be creative and show your true self.
• Service providers
If you will be sending your newsletter through the postal service, you may need a printing company and staff to confirm addresses and prepare your mailing. If you are sending an electronic newsletter, choose an e-mail publishing and marketing system that allows you both to look professional and to avoid spamming. If writing and consistency are not your forte, consider hiring a virtual assistant who specializes in e-zine and newsletter preparation.