Dear Friends, 

Publishing a newsletter (whether in print or in email format, like this one) is one of the most cost-effective ways to stay in touch with your current and prospective customers, build trust and demonstrate your expertise. 

The most daunting obstacle for most people, the reason newsletters never get off the ground, is that it can be hard to come up with a new ideas. 

It's a brand new year, and many of you are already thinking about goals for the coming year, resolutions and ways to improve your business. What better time to brainstorm a few newsletter ideas so that you can have them at your fingertips when it comes time to push SEND.

Here are a few brainstorming tips to help you get off to a great start:

Write down every idea without judgement 

I know that some ideas are better than others, but trust me, when you brainstorm ideas for your newsletter, do not stop and say "that will never work," or "nobody will want to read that," or "that's too personal." Just write the ideas down and let the list get out of hand. 

When you censor your ideas during the brainstorming stage, your ideas will not flow. Also, sometimes, a bad idea will lead to a good one. 

Ask yourself Who is my ideal customer and What does she want to know?

Many business owners make the mistake of thinking that anyone can benefit from their products or services, but the reality is that 99% of people don't need it, can't afford it or for some other reason will not be a good customer. If you focus on the small percentage of people who are a perfect fit, you will be able to attract more people like that, and your business will grow faster.

So who is your perfect customer?

Be as specific as possible and imagine an individual, not a group.

How old is this person? Is it a man or a woman? What do they do for a living? What are their hobbies? What is their level of education? How much do they know about what you do? What are their main concerns and problems?

Always keep this ideal customer in mind when you think of ideas for your newsletter. Make a list of what you know that will help them.

Be generous with your expertise

The reason that people signed up for your newsletter is that they want to know more about you, and what you offer. 

Be as forthcoming as you can with your knowledge and don't worry about giving away your secrets. You want your newsletter to be as informative and useful as possible. 

The best way to generate topics that your customers will find helpful is to make a list of questions that people ask you, and write articles that answer those questions. Start with open ended questions that begin with phrases like:

  • How do I...
  • What do you think about...
  • What would you recommend for...
  • What is the best way to...
  • Is it worth the money to...
Surely, several questions will come to mind right away. You can encourage your customers to ask questions and ask your employees to jot down any questions that they are asked. Also, include questions that your friends and family ask. 

Let your personality and perspective come through

If you're marketing your professional services, the last thing you want is to blend in with the crowd. When your industry zigs, in what ways do you zag?
You can get inspiration for these types of stories by asking hard questions about what you do: What does the the general public or the press fail to understand? What do you disagree with? What kinds of problems have you or your clients overcome? What do you find funny? What is going wrong (or finally starting to go right) in your industry? 

Don't be afraid to share your opinions. And while you're at it, find ways to include a dose of your personality in each issue. 

Why? Have you ever been hooked on a TV show or a series of books? You want to keep watching or reading because you like the characters and want to find out what happens next. 

The same is often true with newsletters. I get newsletters all the time from people selling expensive products or services that I know I won't buy this time (but maybe next time). I open the email anyway, because I like reading the messages. 

The emails that I enjoy the most are the ones where the writer opens up about his or her real life. They joke about their thinning hair, and their weakness for apple pie. They share pictures of their dogs and their flower gardens. It's like talking to a friend. 

You can create the same effect. Take a minute during your planning session to list your own personality traits, both good and bad, and see if those quirky details might liven up your articles. 

Leave room for spontaneity
By now you should have a list of ideas in your head, or written in a notebook. Keep this list around so that you will have plenty of topics to choose from next time you're ready to send out a message. 
Even though you have a list, be open to new ideas. If something happens over the weekend, you read a great book, your kid or grandkid said something hilarious, or you took a class that changed your perspective, write about those things while they're fresh in your mind.  
Good luck, and let me know if you need any help!



Mandy Marksteiner
Copywriter and Marketing Consultant
P.S. If you would like to start an e-newsletter, here is a link to get a free trial with Constant Contact.
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