Many businesses understand the value of direct mail as a marketing tool. But have you ever considered using a newsletter as a sales-related publication? A newsletter can help your business or non-profit generate new customers or increase your donor base, cultivate loyalty, increase repeat sales or continued giving, and boost referrals.
How can a newsletter accomplish all these objectives? By communicating useful information in an easy-to-understand format. And when we say useful information, we mean not only facts, tips, and expert advice, but also new product or service information.
In this issue we’ll provide some guidelines and suggestions to help you launch a customer-centric newsletter and realize its benefit as a powerful sales tool.
Newsletter SizeA fundamental decision when starting a newsletter is how it will look. A very popular newsletter format is a tabloid size (11”x17”) sheet of paper, folded in half to produce four letter size (8.5” x 11”) pages. To create a longer newsletter, include additional tabloid size sheets to add four pages or include one letter size sheet to add two additional pages.
The same technique can be used with a letter size sheet. Folded in half, it becomes a four-page half letter size newsletter that measures 5.5” x 8.5”. Add more letter size sheets, and the newsletter page count increases to 8, 12, 16 or more pages.
The popularity of these newsletter sizes is linked to the fact that letter and tabloid sizes are readily available, ream-wrapped papers that come in a wide variety of colors, finishes, and thicknesses. This availability allows newsletter editors a good bit of creativity in selecting paper.
Here are some creative suggestion for consideration. Instead of folding the tabloid sheet in half, fold it in thirds, creating a large trifold, which is a six-page newsletter. Alternately, trim the tabloid sheet to legal size, then fold in half and you have a four-page newsletter with a finished size of 7” x 8.5”. The benefit of these suggestions is that they take advantage of the standard sheet size, yet produce a newsletter that is an unusual size, making it stand out in the mail.
For a truly unusual format, consider a postcard newsletter. You will be amazed at the amount of information you can fit on a postcard. The key is careful design and concise content limited to the essentials.
How much copy does it take to fill a newsletter? Typically it takes 400 - 600 words per letter size sheet, assuming there are a few graphic elements like photographs on each page. We suggest enlisting help from colleagues and other experts in your company to write an article or two.
The nameplate is often mistakenly called the masthead. The masthead is actually the list, editor names, contributors, and other information about who produces the newsletter. A masthead rarely appears on the front page. More commonly it is located on the second or the last page and usually in the same position for every issue. Other recurring elements of a newsletter could include:
- Message from the President or Executive Director
- Dates for Upcoming Events
- New Product or Service Announcements
- Table of Contents for publications longer than 6 pages
Good design – and especially design that helps convey a sales-related message – follows basic rules of organization and artistry. We recommend using columns rather than lines that run the entire width of the page. Reading is faster if the eye can move vertically from line to line. In addition, all newsletters should have an underlying organization structure (or grid). Columns allow you to create a more interesting layout. If you use three columns, for instance, you can vary the layout with graphic elements like photographs that span one, two, or three columns wide.
Keep in mind, columns don’t have to be of equal width. In a two-column grid, one column can be twice as wide and produce a pleasing layout. Similarly, a three-column grid could have two columns of equal width and one very narrow column.