Q Do you see newsletters continuing to be an effective communications tool for organizations and small businesses?
ROCHESTER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
A In this age of computers, the electronic format has a great deal to offer. It is inexpensive to send and offers at least as much leeway for creativity as the paper format. If you are required to mail frequently to your target audiences, sending monthly statements, for example, the paper format might be preferred.
One of the major barriers to a successful newsletter is the creative effort it requires on a consistent basis. Every month the editor needs to dig up enough content to publish the monthly issue. This is easy for the first or second time, but many newsletters fail because they only have enough easy-to-access content for the first few issues.
Beyond the content component, you must decide who will take responsibility for producing the newsletter and how you will assure that it goes out to enough interested people. These issues are the same for mailed and electronic newsletters.
The newsletter should also be a good bargain for the sender and the recipient. Determine the balance between the organization's needs (sales and relationship-building) and the needs of the reader (product knowledge and relationship-building).
Successful newsletters tend to be from a firm that can assign a writer and editor without any problem. They are directed at a particular community of interest, not broadcast to an unrelated mailing list, and they are ongoing. Readers can count on receiving them and using them to solve problems they might have. In this way, they perform a valuable function for the sender as well as for the recipient.
PROFESSOR OF MARKETING MANAGEMENT
OPUS COLLEGE OF BUSINESS
UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS