Laughing at My Newsletter
They laughed when they read my newsletter. Literally. That’s because half the content of my company’s monthly “Overnight Lite” newsletter is made up of jokes, riddles, and puns. The other half is made up of news, promotional material, case histories, and technical information.
Right now my newsletter has me smiling, but it is no laughing matter. I’m smiling because we’ve just celebrated 30 years of continuous publication.
That’s amazing, for several reasons. First, not many people do newsletters these days. Many have taken the lazy way out by sending an occasional email blast instead.
Second, not many people did newsletters 30 years ago. Despite the ongoing claims of many graphic arts providers to be marketing experts, most don’t do any marketing. Go figure.
Most importantly, in my experience, most companies don’t stick with their marketing programs. Consistently mailing a monthly newsletter for three decades is almost unheard of. Yes, I’m bragging.
Our newsletter has been wildly successful. I visit clients and prospects, and time after time, notice the latest issue thumbtacked or taped up behind their desks. When contacts retire, their successors request subscriptions. When we feature a product or service, inquiries and quote requests surge.
I’ve learned a lot cranking out “Overnight Lite” every month, so I’m going to share some of what I’ve learned with you.
Have a Mission. Just what are you trying to do, anyway? Hard sell? Information? Education? The purpose of our newsletter is to keep in touch with customers, prospects, and friends, particularly those who don’t warrant (or don’t want) constant sales calls. That includes people who might not know much about our business, and might or might not want to learn more. We decided to keep it light (hence “Overnight Lite”) so anyone could enjoy it.
Get Help. I know the value of publicity. When I started my company, I was determined to send out regular press releases in addition to a newsletter. I’m a writer, so I figured I could do it myself. A year later, I hadn’t sent out a thing. I caved. I retained a copywriter to handle both the press releases and the newsletter, and life has been much easier ever since.
Bite the Bullet. Yes, outsourcing creative content has a cost. So does postage. Don’t go overboard, but do set a budget. Spend it. Each issue should cost about the same amount. Plan for it, and just do it. The old cliché “you have to spend money to make money” was never truer than in marketing.
Keep It Manageable. In the March 2019 Johnson’s World “Hats Off to Print,” I offered my kudos to companies such as Domtar Paper and Fujifilm that produce their own magazines. What’s that, you say? You don’t have the marketing budget or staff that these giants do? You don’t need an 80-page magazine. My newsletter is two sides of an 8½×11˝ sheet, letterfolded.
The format isn’t as important as the consistency. Choose a format, be it a postcard or a 16-page booklet, and stick with it.
Print It. I know, email is cheaper. Your customers could say the same thing. The proper response is that email is cheaper, but printing is better. If you don’t believe it yourself, how are you going to convince prospects?
This is your chance to show off what you can do. Creative design, artful typography, tasteful use of color, beautiful printing, special effects. None of these can be demonstrated in an email (especially with the canned templates that are usually employed), yet these are the very things you are selling.
Keep Doing It. Many marketing efforts begin when things are slow, then wane when business picks up. Press on! A very wise man (my newsletter editor, in fact) is fond of reminding me that when I’m sick and tired of a marketing message our readers are just beginning to notice.
Don’t Sweat. I’d like every issue to be an award-winner, but some months our content is better than others. Let me say it one more time: consistency is more important than perfection.
Well, what are you waiting for? Make a consistently mailed company newsletter one of your New Year’s resolutions, so when 2050 rolls around, you can brag too.
Steve Johnson, president and CEO of Copresco in Carol Stream, Ill., is an executive with 40 years of experience in the graphic arts. He founded Copresco, a pioneer in digital printing technology and on-demand printing, in 1987. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.copresco.com