What Do I Write About? Part 2 of Non-Spammy Newsletters

Most of my clients own really small businesses, usually with fewer than 10 employees. These folks are busy! They are in charge of marketing, accounting, sales, production, customer service and anything else their businesses need. When we start talking about a newsletter or a blog, they inevitably ask, “But what would be in it? What would I (or you) write about?”

There are already about 15 billion articles regarding why content is important in existence and they are all easily accessible. However, when you are looking at your own stuff, the stuff you are mired in neck-deep day after day,it’s a little hard to know what your customers might want to know.

For example, my first-ever client builds custom furniture. He was resistant to a newsletter because he didn’t think there would be enough to say about what he does to keep people opening it month after month. He didn’t realize people would be interested in the process of building furniture, or in knowing more than “use orange oil to polish it” about how to care for their purchases, or about the different types of lumber he uses.

In fact, his customers are interested in all of that stuff. His open rate is close to 50% each month, far above the industry average of 18%. His customers also like knowing what kind of equipment he uses and why he chose his profession, and what other people have purchased from him.

The range of possible articles to include in his newsletter is huge: he can talk about trees, lumber, sustainability, his customers, functional art, his colleagues, polish and finishes, the care of wooden furniture, construction, and on and on. He just didn’t see all of that because it was day to day stuff to him.

A pitfall of having plenty of options for articles is going too far. A newsletter should be short and sweet. A few images, a few paragraphs, one or two interesting tidbits and that’s it. People are busy. They don’t have time to scroll and scroll through your newsletter.

People also have short attention spans. Even if they weren’t busy, they wouldn’t take the time to look at all of your stuff. Online, especially, distractions abound. Maybe another email hits their inbox. Maybe a link distracts them away. Maybe their kid needs attention. For whatever reason, people are not going to look at your newsletter for more than a minute or two.

Write about what you do. Provide information, entertain, and generally be useful. But what about sales? Shouldn’t there be a good old call to action? Of course there should be, but it shouldn’t be the first thing your customers see. The purpose of most newsletters is to keep people aware of your business, not to get them to buy something right now – at least not every time you send it.

If you are having a special or want to offer a fabulous discount to your subscribers or you have an overstock of something you need to sell, now, then your newsletter is a great vehicle. Just don’t do that in your first issue. Develop a relationship with your subscribers but don’t think you have to give away something with every issue.

The topic of what to write about could be a series all by itself. So much depends on industry, personality, branding and timing it is difficult to make generalizations.If you have specific questions about newsletter content that I might be able to help you with, please, leave a comment or send an email. I’d love to hear from you.

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