What have you read recently? Are you someone who wakes up everyday and grabs a copy of the paper, or maybe you skim through the news on your phone? Or you’re a bookworm who loves settling down with a novel on a rainy day. Regardless of what it is, everybody is a reader in some context.
But regardless of the format, what allures us to reading anything? It’s this: we read something if it aligns with our interests, expands our personal growth, or teaches us something beneficial.
So how do good newsletters appeal to their readers? They are successful because they understand their audience.
Define the Reader
The first step to achieving this is defining the reader. Who are they? What relationship do they have with you? Why should they read your newsletter?
However, we might need to backtrack a little bit and make a decision on who our reader is. If you’re thinking about launching a new newsletter, then this is a great starting point. If you're already producing a newsletter, then it’s a good idea to take a step back and analyze whether you’re succeeding with this.
Decide on who you’re trying to reach. Are you trying to engage your current customers to develop your relationship? Or is this an outreach tool for your prospects? Or have you decided that you want to reach both prospect and current customers? Defining your target reader lays the foundation for engaging them with valuable content.
In everything that you do with your newsletter, this “reader persona” needs to be top priority when making any decision on the direction of your content.
Identify The Needs Of Your Reader
Since you’ve decided who you’re crafting your newsletter toward, you can begin to dig deeper to understand their needs.
Let’s go through each of those three reader personas we discussed: customer, prospect, and a combination of the two.
What do your customers need from you? They have a problem and you provide the solution. How can your newsletter be a tool to continue to solve their problem and provide value beyond the buying experience? They already know that you can solve their problems, so what more can you give them? For us, our customers often struggle to come up with new ideas for their direct mail pieces. In response, we want to give them helpful information for this problem. We include an article in every newsletter highlighting a way they can improve their current mail piece. Or we feature a creative mail piece that someone has success with. This can inspire them to make actionable improvements to their current mail piece. It can also spark an idea of something new they can incorporate in their direct mail marketing.
Our aim is to become a beneficial resource they can go to every time they have a question or are looking for ways to boost their results. We orient our newsletter toward providing that solution they are looking for. That’s what you need to do with yours as well.
Because your customers already have a relationship with you, they don’t need convincing you can provide value to them. You’re up against a different type of challenge. Prospects want to know how you can solve their problems. If your newsletter is targeted toward prospects, you need to show them how you have the solution to their problems.
Your newsletter is a fantastic way to show them you’re the industry expert. For example, let's say you’re the owner of an auto shop. Your prospects are looking for a place they can trust, to take care of the “actual” problems with their car. You have a tremendous opportunity to show them in your newsletter that you actually care about them and can solve this trust issue.
You can include articles on how your “51 point inspection” identifies problems in their car before they arise, which will save them money down the road. Then expand on how not replacing the air filter now for $50 will come back to bite them in the future when it damages something more substantial. You are creating trust with the prospect by explaining how you have their best interests in mind. Instead of continuing that narrative of being “an auto shop that upsells their customers on everything.”
Both Prospects And Customers:
When targeting both your prospects and customers, it’s a fine line between establishing trust and providing value. On one hand, if you focus to much on establishing trust, you'll connect with your prospects, but not engage as much with your current customers. If you only emphasize value after the sale, you’re missing an opportunity to convert your prospects.
To find that balance I always fall back on this golden rule: is this content providing value to my reader? If the answer is yes, for both your customer and prospect, awesome! Put it in there. If it misses the mark with one or the other, consider going a different route. Understand that not everything you include is always going to interest every single reader. Humans are too diverse. But with a strong focus and your readers needs in mind, you’re going to be able to hit the mark most of the time.
Provide Value To Your Reader
Now that you’ve defined your reader and identified their needs, it's time for the easy part: giving them valuable content. Here's something to can do each month as your brainstorming what to include in the issue. Jot down some of the recurring questions or themes you’ve encountered on a consistent basis with your prospects and customers. If you’re not sure what those are, speak to your sales team or those in the front office. They will be able to help identify what those are. Or maybe you can see those trends on your Facebook page or “contact us” form on your website.
Create your content by answering those questions that you’re customers are asking you. Then show them their next steps for how you can solve these problems. It’s that simple!