Using Printed Newsletters
Some people will be surprised that in a digital era, I am even talking about printed newsletters…but there’s a really good reason why I do: done properly, they work, so don’t discount them.
Let’s start by talking about the pros and cons of paper newsletters. On the downside, they are very expensive compared with e-newsletters. They also can’t deliver links or video. They can be time-consuming to produce and thus are a poor medium for ‘stop press’ types of content.
So, what are the benefits that make them worthwhile? The main benefit of the printed newsletter is permanence. People save them, read them, often many times, and they are a lasting reminder of their relationship with your firm…and probably there is a higher perceived value than electronic communications. Not that many firms use them these days, so they are not in an overcrowded market. I have no data on this, but I’d bet that private client clients who get printed newsletters have greater loyalty than those who get e-newsletters. They can also be read by people other than those to whom they have been sent and, being physical, can be very easily handed on.
One of our clients – who does wills and probate work – has mentioned how, when visiting a deceased client’s home to find documents etc, she frequently finds a stack of her firm’s newsletters, often with notes in the margins.
There are just a few basic rules for printed newsletters. Remember your audience and your purpose. The purpose is to encourage that the newsletter is saved or passed on and makes a favourable impression even if not a direct enquiry.
The first thing is to make sure the design is first-class. Dense text and out-of-focus photos of people in the firm are a big no-no. Use colour, modern design, pictures and large text (not less than 12 points). If you can’t do this in-house, use an agency (we use legalmedia.co.uk for client e-newsletter design work).
As far as content goes, this should either be a ‘you need to know this’ or to tell a story – normally one about a problem that occurred because the advice wasn’t taken in time (or at all). The moral is that if they had taken advice, they would have avoided the problem. The same rules apply for both commercial and private client newsletters.
If you wish, do include some personalisation – make sure that it is positive and actually means something to the reader. Don’t send too many or too few. We think a periodicity between 4 and 6 months is right.
In a later piece, I’ll talk you through the language imperatives.
Lastly, with any newsletter, if you have made the promise to deliver it, deliver it. As a partner in my firm, the one thing I would not forgive was people making promises to clients and not keeping them.
Joe Reevy, LegalRSS