7 elements of a powerful printed newsletter

friday, 19 december of 2008

7 elements of a powerful printed newsletter

By Trey Ryder

1. Right and wrong ways to use type.

Limit the number of type styles. Don't use more than two fonts in your alert. (When you use three or more, the type's appearance often distracts readers, who then may stop reading.) Still, you can use each type face in various sizes and forms, such as bold and italic. These different forms still count as just one basic font.

Choose a font with serifs. Serifs are the little feet and extensions you see on individual letters. Serifs tie words together and help the eye move from word to word, making paragraphs easier to read. Sans-serif type styles (without serifs) are fine for headlines and other applications when you use few words and where the letters are usually large. Don't use sans-serif type for paragraphs because it is hard to read.

Make sure the type is easy to read. This sounds like common sense, but some newsletter publishers waste a great deal of money creating newsletters that are hard to read. Have you ever looked at a newsletter that you knew was expensive to produce only to discover that you couldn't read the words? Don't let artists get carried away with their concept of style. Your message is worthless if no one can read it. And the easier it is to read, the more appealing it will be to your prospects, and the more likely they are to read it.

Use reverse type sparingly. Reverse type, or type that is said to be reversed out, is type that is surrounded by a colored block of ink, often black. The actual color of the letters is the color of the paper showing through. Reverse type is sometimes OK for limited applications, with two caveats: First, never use reverse type for paragraphs because it's very hard on the eyes. Second, be careful when you use reverse type because it can easily create a cheap, schlocky appearance. (Just look through the lawyer ads in the yellow pages.)

In summary, if you use reverse type, use it sparingly, use it in limited applications, and get feedback from friends (before you send out your newsletter) to see if they think it cheapens your image.

2. Masthead. This is the area at the top of the first page that identifies what the reader is holding in his hands. Design your masthead to seize your reader's attention so he can't put it down. The format I like contains a descriptive title, a more descriptive subtitle, topics in this issue, your name and phone number, your reason for publishing it, the issue number, date and copyright notice. Here's a sample masthead format:

Subject #1 * Subject #2 * Subject #3 (bold type but smaller than title)
Alert's Descriptive Title (the biggest and boldest type on the page)
More Descriptive Subtitle (smaller)
Reason for publishing
Type of attorney, your name, phone number and e-mail address
Issue Number and Date
© Copyright 2008 by your name. All rights reserved. (small type)

Here's a sample masthead for a business lawyer:

(I prefer the subjects listed horizontally across the page. I've listed them here vertically for convenience.)
* New Sexual Harassment Rules
* Reduce Employee Lawsuits
* Decrease Payroll Taxes
in this issue of

Tom Spencer's
BUSINESS LAW ALERT

Your complete source for information that affects how you run your business

Provided as an educational service for friends and clients by Business Lawyer Tom Spencer, who welcomes your questions and comments at 12... or by e-mail at name@yourdomain.com.

Issue #(xxx), (Date)
© Copyright 2008 by Tom Spencer, P.C. All rights reserved.

3. Articles. These can be short, like news items -- or more lengthy. You're better off choosing at least three subjects for each issue of your alert. If you limit your alert to one subject, you risk that some readers won't be interested in that subject and your alert will end up in the round file. When you include more than one subject, you're more likely to have something that interests everybody. This ensures that they will find immediate value in what you send, rather than risking that they might toss it and conclude that this issue was a waste.

Select topics that directly relate to the services you provide for prospects and clients. Always keep in mind the connection from the article to services offered. Make clear in the article that you can provide services that prevent, minimize or solve this problem.

4. Question/answer section. Include a commonly asked question with your answer. One question and answer are enough. If you have room, include more. Also, tell readers how they can ask a question that you will answer in a future issue.

5. Seminar notice. Include the titles, times, dates and places for upcoming programs. Include teaser titles outlining your seminars' content. For example, teaser titles usually include:

5Secrets of (whatever)
8 Costly Mistakes to Avoid When (whatever)
7 Simple Steps to (achieve whatever you want)

Teasers dramatically increase attendance, so include as many as you can. These should be the same teasers that you use on the flier promoting your seminar.

6. Biography and photo. Include a photo with direct eye contact and a warm, engaging smile. Usually I put this at the left margin, with a detailed biography to its right. Include an itemized list of your services, either as part of your bio or separately. If you include only a general description of services, your description won't be specific enough to be persuasive. Prospects want to know that you will do precisely what they need to have done (or what they think they need to have done). List as many specific services as possible.

7. Offers. Offer your free educational packet and tell prospects how to get it. Offer to talk with prospects on the telephone without charge. Offer to add names of friends and colleagues to your mailing list. Offer to answer prospects' questions in your alert's question and answer column. Offer your web site address where prospects can get more information.

Follow this seven-part design formula and you'll turn an ordinary newsletter into a powerful marketing tool that attracts clients and increases referrals.

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© Trey Ryder

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