Newsletters — Read or Dead? Part I

Over the years, I’ve edited, written for, and proofread dozens of newsletters for my employers and clients. And, like you, I’ve been on the receiving end of newsletters from various organizations. Some of these have been successful; some haven’t. Here’s why.

First, let’s consider what a newsletter can do for your business.

  • Regularly keep you in front of clients.
  • Position you as an expert in your field, highlighting your accomplishments and allowing you to share your expertise with others.
  • Add value to your clients beyond your normal relationship, giving them information or interpretation they might not get elsewhere.
  • Boost client morale by featuring them in articles or inviting them to be guest authors — and by making them feel good they do business with such an accomplished organization.
  • Boost employee morale by touting their accomplishments or giving them by-line opportunities.
  • Educate, inform, entertain (maybe all 3).

Notice I didn’t say, “Make you money.” Although there’s no reason why a newsletter can’t do that, too, by helping you build customer loyalty and attract new customers, I wouldn’t start a newsletter simply as a money-making tool.  (Unless, of course, you intend to sell the newsletter, á la  Kiplinger, The Motley Fool, or the Harvard Health Letter. That’s a whole other ballgame.) Newsletters are generally a marketing tool or an information tool; making money off them is secondary for most organizations.

Newsletters also have the potential to annoy, send the wrong message, and waste time and money.

Next time, we’ll look at what makes newsletters successful…or not.


You can write about anything, and if you write
well enough, even the reader with no intrinsic
interest in the subject will become involved.
~ Tracy Kidder


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