Newsletter Essentials Part 1

When clients walk away you never know

Newsletters are often decried by the digital fraternity, but are regularly described by our clients who use them as the most cost-effective marketing they do. However, to be cost-effective, they need to be used sensibly within a business development (BD) strategy that fits with the firm’s overall strategy.

In this series I am going to explore how, why, and when newsletters should be used. I am not going to go into the more minute bits of data analysis (actually, I don’t think most of that is a good use of anyone’s time or money), but will concentrate on the basics of how to make sure the newsletters you do are effective in generating long-term new profitable business for your firm.  For now I’m dealing with newsletters, but later I’ll discuss the appropriateness of different distribution media for different sorts of messages.

There is one simple reason why newsletters work and that is they are mainly received by people you already have a connection with or passed on by them and that relationship means (or should) that they command attention a mere ‘flyer’ normally won’t. The very first question to ask about any newsletter (paper or e-newsletter) is ‘Who will receive this and what interests them?’ If you get that right, then you have the ability to leverage the existing relationship to provide more instructions for your firm, be they direct from the recipient or from a referral by them.

However – and this is where I part company with a lot of content strategists – unless your content either hits an immediate perceived need, or is targeted at and written for a very highly engaged audience (such as in-house lawyers), the important thing is not technical depth or even the ability to keep the eyeballs on the material to the final full stop. It is about refreshing the idea in the recipient’s heads that you are still there, still dealing with people/organisations like them with problems like they have, still able to speak their language and still care. This is why I believe that traditional measures of ‘engagement’ are largely spurious.

The reason for this is important and obvious. Look at your client lists: a huge amount of your work is repeat and referral. But when clients walk away you never know. Obtaining new clients is expensive. The first and soundest BD effort for any professional firm is to keep…and leverage…what you already have. You need to keep your brand in front of your potential client base. Ignore your flock and the sheep will drift off… Newsletters are without parallel in keeping the flock together.

In a future article, I’ll be dealing with how and when you should use paper newsletters and e-newsletters and for what audiences and purposes, how they should be written, how you should maximise ‘reach’ and what data to look at (and what data not to waste time on).

Joe Reevy at Best Practice Online

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