How to write newsletters


Think about the last time you were planning a big purchase.

Maybe it was an appliance. Or even a car.

Did you decide to buy it the moment you came across it?

Even if you had done your research, even if you knew all the facts – chances are you waited – until you were sure you could trust the decision to purchase.

Why would you think your prospects are any different?

But here’s the catch – unlike an appliance store salesperson, you can afford to neither badger your prospects to buy, nor can you spend limited time endlessly on individual prospects until they’re ready to take the plunge.

But you don’t have to be stuck with this hard choice.

You can continue to build the trust without spending hours on each prospect – by leveraging the power of newsletters.

The Case For Newsletters

I know what you’re thinking now – newsletters are boring, overused and ineffective…you barely read a couple of the dozens flooding your inbox everyday. So why spend more energy just add to the clutter?

Think back to your own habits – if you’re like me, you probably ignore 99% of the newsletters that land in your inbox.

But I’m willing to bet there is at least one email that you look forward to getting. Chances are, it’s because it gives you:

  • The inside scoop on something really important to you
  • A cupful of empathy and support with tough challenges, personal or professional 
  • Information-to-go that you can use instantly
  • Hard-to-find tips, hacks or tools that make your life easier

You can be that person for your prospects  – if you get your newsletter right.

Once you nail down the exact right recipe, you can use it forever to engage your circle of prospects, their friends and families, and even your professional referral sources – all with just a little effort and thoughtful upfront planning.

Ready to take the plunge? Let’s crack the code to great newsletters.

How to write newsletters

Photo by CDC 

The DNA of A Great Newsletter

Every great newsletter is different but it nails four components down to perfection:

  • Audience –  who is this addressed to? You may already be writing a newsletter to your existing clients. But your clients are mentally in a different place than your prospects – unlike with your clients, there is still the one big worry or open question about their finances that hasn’t yet been resolved. Creating a clear focus on someone whose problem hasn’t been solved yet (i.e., your prospects) allows you to wield your scalpel much more skillfully than a blunt all-in-one newsletter covering a mishmash of topics that whets no one’s appetite.
  • Purpose – What do you want to have happen after your audience reads your newsletter? You already know that to be a successful rainmaker, you  must help your prospect buy. Your newsletter works well if its goal is to raise awareness, generate interest, demonstrate expertise, or engender trust. The way you do that is unique to you, of course, but the end goal is the same.
  • Value – What’s in it for your reader? You’re asking for their time – how will you make it worth their while. The value can be different in each issue, or uniform across the series, but it has to be crystal clear and immediately evident. Which of these does your reader get?
    • Insight or information 
    • Help with resolving a niggling or uncertain decision or issue
    • Guide to action
    • Emotional support
    • Humor or entertainment
    • Access to something that has financial value (e.g. the “deals and coupons” mails that you get from many retailers)
  • Tone –  Picking a tone that’s consistent with your “brand” and how your clients perceive you is absolutely critical. What adjectives do clients most often use to describe you – and how can you infuse this tone consistently in your communications? Are you seen as thoughtful, quirky, serious, no-nonsense, irreverent, caring, empathetic, diligent? Pick three that make an interesting and unique combination and write with that voice

Take 5 minutes to craft your view on these and see a big difference.

The Secret Sauce

You can nail all the factors we talked about but still miss that special “something” – the thing that makes your newsletter spring to life.

Your newsletter must be addictive, rewarding and habit-forming.

Newsletters that are rewarding and addictive have three elements that make them stand apart. They

  • Make life better: They offer something that makes your reader glad that she took the time to read it. Because your email was insightful, useful, humorous or exciting, even in a small way. As the famous quip said, most people lead lives of quiet desperation, and a tiny spark of relief is welcomed with eagerness. 
  • Get results fast: The results don’t have to be big or life-changing. But they do have to be immediate. And results don’t have to be tangible, take-it-to-the-bank cash either. Anything that transforms the reader’s mind qualifies – perhaps she gets a new angle on an existing problem, a small tip to improve her situation, or a tool or simple action she can take right away.
  • Are appetizing: Newsletters get read when are a pleasure to consume
    • Conversational in tone
    • Readable even when your reader is distracted 
    • Human – with points of view, stories, examples, metaphors
    • Attractively formatted – with white space, bullet points and graphics

How to write newsletters

Photo by Aar√≥n Blanco Tejedor 

5 Steps to a Great Newsletter

With all the secrets up your sleeve, putting together an irresistible newsletter is easy:

  1. Give it a catchy title – a good headline is 80% of the battle. Keep the same every issue or mix it up – but make it compelling
  2. Adopt a standard format – It can be a chatty letter, a tight bullet-point form missive or anything in between. But stay consistent. That way, you’ll train your reader to expect (and therefore feel that little spark of pleasure when the expectation is met every time)
  3. Blend education and entertainment – Make them feel smarter and better effortlessly. Museums do a great job of this. They show us a little blurb about an art piece and suddenly we’re experts on painting – or at least feel like we are. Use the same principle.
  4. Get personal – Tell a story, share a point of view or comment on a topical matter. But let the human shine through. Nobody likes to read “botmails” – the kind that look they were churned out by some dystopian artificial intelligence.
  5. Habituate – Make the arrival of your newsletter a much-anticipated and reliable event in the daily life of your reader. This is the easiest way to integrate yourself and your offering into the fabric of your readers’ routines – and nothing can beat the power of habituation!

Write like a human talking around the campfire on a topic of intense interest to your fellow-humans- and you’ll be golden!

There you have it. You’re ready to be a newsletter ninja.

What’s your newsletter going to be?

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