Want To Write An E-Newsletter? It’s Not All On You!
Ask any enterprise why they don’t create a monthly e-newsletter and they’re likely to admit their biggest fear is not having enough content to keep it going. Or they don’t have the time to sit down and write when other responsibilities take precedence.
That’s why you haven’t started one, isn’t it?
Lighten The E-newsletter Load
Indeed, you’d love to stay in touch with your customers and prospects … but who has enough content to fill 12 e-newsletters a year?
The great news is that writing an e-newsletter doesn’t have to fall entirely on your shoulders –nor on the shoulders of others on your team. In fact, unless people in your company have something really important … or interesting … or intriguing to say, and the time to say it, we suggest you try this strategy instead …
Rather than you doing all the heavy lifting, sit down and come up with a list of, say, half a dozen outside experts in your field who might consider writing for you on a regular basis. Naturally we’re not talking about competitors. But how about independent consultants or professionals who serve your industry, like tax accountants or attorneys, or even educators? They would bring a certain expertise to your e-newsletter that you’d be hard-pressed to duplicate. And, if your e-newsletter mailing list includes people that these experts would love to reach, we bet they wouldn’t charge you a penny for their services. Well, at least they’d be more reasonable about it.
In fact, we have the perfect case study to illustrate how this can be done well.
One of our clients, Henry Schein Dental, asked us to create an e-newsletter that focuses on the business of outside consultants who coach dentists on such topics as patient flow, collections, work environment, and so on. The typical methodology would be to have people in the marketing department of Henry Schein write articles about these consultants – or hire freelance writers who might do telephone interviews with the consultants and then write up the content.
But, not surprisingly, it turned out that these consultants have plenty to say about the services they offer and how dentists benefit from those services. And each one of them jumped at the opportunity to turn out 500 words or so each month so that the tens of thousands of dentists on the Henry Schein mailing list might read them.
Here is how we prepare these monthly e-newsletters and how you can do similarly:
- Line up the authors. If they commit to writing a monthly column then you’ll only need to do this once. Clearly explain to them the benefits of writing for you and what you’ll expect in return – your deadlines, the word count, whether you need art or not, and so on. Make sure this is a firm commitment … you don’t want to be left scrambling should the author(s) renege at deadline time. You’ll also want to determine whether your e-newsletter will be a short one with one column per issue or an extended one with, say, three or four.
- Prepare an editorial calendar. This isn’t a necessity, but you may want each issue to have a theme – like, perhaps “End-Of-Year Financials”– if so, you’ll need to alert the authors as to what they need to focus on. Handing them a one-year calendar with your 12 deadlines and 12 topics will enable them to think ahead and prepare them to meet your (and their) needs. Try to include topics that align with the seasonal cycle of the industry. If your content is archived on your site, consider suggesting a few important SEO keywords to focus on as well.
- Remind the authors. Don’t count on the authors remembering your/their deadlines. Determine how much lead-time the authors need to create their columns, and then ping them (by phone or e-mail) at the appropriate time to remind them that you’re expecting their content in, say, two weeks.
- Don’t forget editing/proofing. You may not be writing the columns, but you will certainly want to edit/proof them to make sure the content meets your standards. Remember, it’s your customers and prospects who will be reading this. Don’t let outside authors’ substandard writing negatively affect the perception of your e-newsletter. And don’t forget to give the authors feedback. Explaining to them the changes you’ve made will improve subsequent columns.
You’ll know you’re doing a great job when readers give you positive feedback – as have readers of the Henry Schein Dental Consulting e-newsletter – which you can see here.
Another person who believes he’s benefiting from that e-newsletter and the way it’s being developed is Eric Nuss who is director of consulting at Henry Schein Dental – and our client!
“Not only does the input from outside experts save me a lot of time, it also creates secondary credibility,” he says. “It has a much bigger impact if third-party voices and various points of view reinforce what we have to say rather than having all the information about our products and services come from me.”
How is this particular e-newsletter strategy working out for Nuss?
“Without doing any other marketing, we’re seeing an average of 10 leads per month that we probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise,” he says, adding “We are very, very pleased.”