Debbie Mayo-Smith international inspirational motivational how-to speaker technology, time management, improving business performance
Motivational Speakers, Sales, Marketing, Time Management, Productivity, Technology, Tips

How to make newsletters work for you

Quite frankly, most newsletters - print or online - are rubbish. A waste of money and time. They don't achieve the return on investment they should or could.

Why? Because 999 out of 1000 are a mere reflection of the source organisation, with a gorilla-sized "me, me, me" mentality. For most, the title "newsletter" is a misnomer. They contain no news or items of real relevance.

Rather: buy from us; look at our achievements; why you must have our service or product. Over and over again in every issue. I can imagine you nodding your head in agreement.

The "me" strategy will appeal to a tiny fraction of readers who have a need at that time. Or who are loyal fans. But for the vast majority, it's "so, who cares? Why waste my time reading this?"

That's the problem. Time. In today's business environment, people are too busy, too overloaded. Their inboxes - virtual and physical - too crowded.

Are you thinking: "So what should we be doing? What is the main ingredient for success?"

I started one of the first online newsletters in New Zealand. It has been running for nine years. Circulation has risen from the original 100 to more than 20,000, primarily from word of mouth. Based on my experience there are key facets to producing a newsletter that people will read, act upon and share. Brevity. Targeting. The correct format. Design.

But the single most important element of success is something that goes against the grain for most. I mean, why do people put out newsletters? It's mainly to get more business. So it's hard not to toot your own horn continuously.

The answer to success - well, you've heard it 1000 times before. It's about them. Put yourself in your customers' shoes. When commissioning or writing content, be one of your customers or prospects. What would you be interested in reading?

Before penning my Business Quick Tips, I always pass my ideas through this filter:

Will it make them more successful in their life?
Will it be interesting to them personally?
Is it too much of a "me, me"?

In other words, how many articles or calls to action in one newsletter do I have about my company?

Think of the person as a whole, not simply a consumer of your goods or services. Do you know and use what industry they are in, what their position is? Their home, family, community life?

One of the most successful issues of our newsletter was when I included an article and a link to our children's rotating job chart ( It generated the most clickthroughs and new subscribers ever. You might think, what is a business newsletter doing with this? I put it in because almost every person has some involvement with children and the business tie-in was the suggestion that it can be adapted easily to the business environment.

Now, I don't mean you should go running and throw recipes in your business newsletter all the time - but, again, think outside the square.

Another example: while conducting research for a business growth presentation for the Institute of Mercantile Agents Australasia (debt collectors, private eyes, bounty hunters, repossession agents), I telephoned the head of collections for a major bank.

"What are you interested in reading for business?' I asked her. You would think her response would centre around: how to reduce debt, the cost of money, improving collections - similar items. Her response: "Debbie, collections is a piece of cake. My staff do that. I lead a large team. I avidly read articles about leadership. KPIs. Managing teams. Training. And yes, when I see a good article online I do forward it to my colleagues in other companies."

If you were one of her clients - on their panel of approved collection agents - would you have thought to send her articles about her role in the organisation rather than the industry she was in?

One of the worst mistakes I made when I started in 1999 was listening to others advising "Oh, don't dare ask for too much information. People won't give it to you." Hogwash. I recommend that you collect the minimum amount of information you need to target the right article to the right people at the right time.

If I were to run a workshop in Wellington, I'd want to mention it as one of four articles in my newsletter. The only people who will ever read about that workshop are in the driveable area around Wellington. All others would get a three-article newsletter. Why? The database is too valuable to burn on the off-chance that someone outside of Wellington might attend. Relevance. What's in it for them? Marketing and promotion kept to a minimum.

I always include information in the newsletter that makes others incredulous: "You're giving away valuable information." "Other people would charge for that." "You're giving valuable secrets away to your competition."

Yes. It's all true. But if you follow this advice, you'll reap more rewards, customers and benefits than you potentially lose. It turns your newsletter into a must-read and forward on, instead of a bin file. For small businesses, consultants, sales people it will grow your renown, your expert status and reputation far more than any advertising medium.

Debbie Mayo-Smith (BSc Hons Econ) is an International Motivational Business Speaker and Managing Director of SuccessIS! ( and a leading specialist in easy practical ways to improve business profitability, personal productivity and Internet marketing. Debbie lives in NZ and travels the world speaking, writing and training. By the way, if you'd like to get lots of neat tricks like this, plus marketing and business development tips, why not enrol for our free newsletter?

This article is copyright to Debbie Mayo-Smith & SuccessIS. You may use it for your newsletter, website or as an article. It can be reproduced - but in its entirety and with inclusion of Debbie Mayo-Smith as the author and the weblink


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