Considering writing a newsletter for your clients? There are a few good rules to follow to make sure it’s opened, read, and hopefully – passed along to new prospects.

As the spate of e-mail viruses lately has shown, the number of e-mails arriving in our in-boxes each day is becoming overwhelming, and as we noted in a recent WebCPA.com survey, an uncomfortable percentage of that e-mail is unappealing, uninviting, and unwanted.

How can you break through the clutter? Here are 10 guidelines to follow:

  1. Remember, first and foremost it’s a newsletter. Make sure you have something newsworthy to report, and readers will be intrigued and (if the writing’s good), hopefully entranced.
  2. Don’t make any overt sales pitches. A simple signature at the bottom with the firm’s managing partner and contact information is all the marketing you need to do. View your newsletter as a value-added service, not a direct selling tool. Once you’ve established yourself as an authority, business should come to you.
  3. Draw readers in with a brief, compelling subject line. Think of this as the lead to a news story. If you’re sending your newsletter to physician clients and one of your stories has to do with a new tax treatment for private corporations, make that your subject and tease your readers to want to learn more: “M.D.’s may need to rethink tax planning for P.C’s.”
  4. Make sure the newsletter is written well and laid out in a pleasing fashion. Easier said than done. Just as recruiters routinely discard resumes with poor grammar and misspelled words, prospects and clients will be instantly turned off by a badly written newsletter, or one riddled with errors or poor graphics. Have at least two people look over the newsletter before it goes out.
  5. Keep the stories brief and to the point. This is not a forum for white papers or your firm’s 20-page analysis of the new tax law. Its purpose is to show clients/prospects that you’re up-to-date on issues affecting their business, and to give them a Reader’s Digest version of the latest news and trends.
  6. Don’t include attachments to any e-newsletters you send out. Viruses, spread through opening e-mail attachments, are rampant these days, and most people will simply delete any e-mail with attachments – even if they know the sender.
  7. Do include links to your Web site – if they’re relevant to the story. If you’ve written a white paper on the future of private corporations, it’s appropriate to include a link with your news story about the new tax treatment for P.C.’s.
  8. Include your picture and your signature. Never forget you’re in a service business built on relationships between people. Putting a face to a name can help you develop instant rapport with prospects.
  9. Send your newsletter on a Tuesday morning. Marketing surveys have shown this is the best time to attract the attention of businesspeople, who are usually too deluged wading through weekend mail on Monday, and too busy with the rest of their work by Wednesday.
  10. Finally, if you don’t have the energy, skills, or time to write it yourself, hire a professional to do the work for you. In the end, it will be money well spent.

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