|A marketing strategy is
worthless if all it does is promote your writing business and blatantly
plea to prospects to hire you. Such is the case with many business
newsletters. Few freelancers understand how to use a business newsletter
to secure clients in the long term. Instead they use their newsletters
to pitch their freelance services and advertise how qualified they are.
This way does not work effectively, despite popular belief or what you
might have read elsewhere. It's why freelancers don't bother publishing
a second issue of their newsletters—because their first issues were
tossed in the trash and did not get results or pull in the anticipated
Once you learn to
harness my techniques, you won't be a freelancer who calls it quits.
Your business newsletter will be different and powerful. It'll serve as
a business-builder, lead-generator, and repetitious marketing tool—not
just a boring promotional piece that prospects and clients look forward
to throwing out.
Guidelines for Creating a
Your business newsletter should serve multiple functions, not just
one. Here's how to do it.
Function #1: Use your newsletter to
sell your skills and expertise—but do it quietly and cleverly.
A primary focus to your newsletter should be to provide worthy,
timely, helpful, problem-solving information—anything else, such as
blatant promotion or bragging about the benefits of your skills and
services, will trigger the prospect or client to toss your newsletter
away and he or she may ignore all other future issues. For this reason,
you must learn to cleverly and subtly sell yourself within the
attention-arresting copy of your newsletter where it's not so obvious to
the prospect or client as to what you're doing.
You can do so by using specific examples,
samples, and results you've gotten for other clients to footnote points
in your information. Your newsletter should contain 80% information and
20% (or less) promotion. It's also acceptable to write about any awards
you've received, if you did charity work for a non-profit association to
help raise funds, spoke at a workshop or gave a seminar, or had an
article or book published. This is newsworthy and important information
that the prospect or client will enjoy reading.
Function #2: Use your newsletter as a
repetitious marketing tool.
Securing a client is a multi-step process—and marketing repeatedly
to the same prospect or client is a vital key to securing work or
additional work. By publishing your business newsletter bi-monthly, you
will satisfy this major requirement and increase the chances of the
prospect or client outsourcing work to you. Although many freelancers
publish their newsletters quarterly, it usually takes, according to
direct mail experts, five consecutive times to make an impact.
Bi-monthly is better than quarterly. And monthly is better than
Function #3: Use your newsletter to
interest prospects and clients in what you have to say.
Your newsletter should contain interesting, problem-solving copy—not
fluff or vague generalizations. You can draft interesting copy by
writing copy that:
a) solves a problem or problems;
b) solves a potential or future problem;
c) helps the prospect or client achieve better results;
d) lends valuable advice;
e) helps define his/her problem;
f) provides case studies of mistakes that other businesses have made and
how he/she can avoid them.
Providing interesting, problem-solving
copy is one way to get a prospect or client to read your newsletter
immediately—not next week or when he or she reorganizes the office and
discovers your newsletter buried in the clutter. When you're able to get
a prospect or client to read your newsletter immediately, you increase
the chances of him or her taking action to contact you for an upcoming
assignment or project.
Function #4: Use your newsletter to
bridge together your interesting, problem-solving copy with your
valuable copywriting/consulting skills.
How does a prospect or client know you're capable of exceeding their
expectations on their next assignment or project, if they decided to
hire you? Because your newsletter subtly shows them that you are
capable. Make sure your newsletter bridges together the insightful
information with your skills as a freelancer. Your information should be
an extension of your experiences, skills, expertise, and knowledge. By
providing this type of information, the prospect or client will realize
you're well qualified to undertake their next assignment or project.
Function #5: Use your newsletter to
generate new work from existing clients.
You may already write for an existing client, but that client may
not realize you also write other types of competent copy. You can make
existing clients aware of your other types of services by writing about
how some of your services have solved problems or achieved better
results for other clients.
Function #6: Use your newsletter to
build rapport and establish new relationships.
When a prospect or client receives your newsletter on a frequent
basis, the information you provide has the ability to create rapport and
build a long-term relationship—two vital elements that get prospects to
take action to hire you. Each issue of your newsletter should increase
awareness of your expertise and your services and keep your name and
phone number fresh in the mind of the prospect or client.
You can build rapport and establish a
a) writing in first person form;
b) providing insightful, expert-oriented information;
c) understanding the needs of the prospect or client;
d) subtly revealing your willingness and eagerness to help solve their
Function #7: Use your newsletter to
maintain existing relationships.
Communication is an essential link to maintaining prosperous,
long-term relationships with existing clients. Your business newsletter
can serve as a communications mouthpiece, keeping your name and number
fresh in the minds of existing clients, as well as updating them on new
events about your business and how you're helping other clients.
Function #8: Use your newsletter to
initiate a sell and/or provide referrals.
Each newsletter has the potential to initiate a sell or bring
referrals your way. As stated before, when you help a prospect solve a
problem via your newsletter or provide information that shows him how to
achieve better results, he'll want to call you to produce similar
results—or he may know someone who could benefit from your skills and
expertise and refer work your way.
Function #9: Use your newsletter to
generate additional responses.
Your newsletter may be the first step in a multi-step marketing
process to secure clients. You can include in your newsletter other
incentives to pull in responses. For example, you can offer a Free
Consultation, in which you ask the prospect to call you for free advice
and solutions on his current project. You can also offer a Free Material
Review incentive, in which you critique a piece of the prospect's
promotional material and then discuss the weaknesses and strengths with
him. Or you can use your newsletter to advertise free reprint articles
or back issues of your newsletter (that have your byline and phone
number on them) that the prospect can request.
Function #10: Use your newsletter to
increase the value of your services.
Because each newsletter really focuses on your skills and expertise
as a freelancer, each issue builds upon the last one and emphasizes and
re-emphasizes your skills and expertise. Your first issue may not have
had an impact, but by the second, third, or fourth issue, the prospect
begins to appreciate your insightful and problem-solving skills and may
rely on your skills for his next assignment or project.
Function #11: Use your newsletter to
position yourself as a top expert in your field.
The information in your business newsletter has the ability to
position yourself as an expert in your field, so use this toward your
advantage. Begin to think of yourself as an expert—the best one around,
and subtly convey this image in your copy.
To position yourself as an expert, subtly
a) specific results you've gotten for other clients;
b) quotes from popular authors or keynote speakers to supplement and
support what you're saying;
c) brief, interesting footnotes as to what you've learned from books and
magazines, or at workshops and seminars.
When a prospect or client begins to see
how knowledgeable and active you are in your field, he will begin to
look upon you as an expert—and you will get the work, not the other
Function #12: Use your newsletter to
create and maintain a positive image of yourself and your business.
You are responsible as to how other clients and prospects perceive
you—and you can change, alter and manipulate your image with a
business newsletter. For example, you can create a newsletter that
pigeonholes yourself as a freelancer with a special skill or talent.
How to Create Interest About Your
Most freelancers mail their business newsletters randomly to
prospects on their mailing lists, piggyback them with their promotional
material, or leave stacks of them at workshops or networking sessions.
Although these marketing approaches work well to create awareness about
your newsletter as well as to generate leads, they don't, however, do
the one vital thing: commit prospects to receive additional issues of
your newsletter. The best way to maximize your results is to offer an
option for prospects to "subscribe" to your free newsletter.
By asking prospects to complete a
subscription form and return it to you, you'll be able to:
a) identify prospects who are interested in learning more about what you
know and how you can help them;
b) eliminate prospects who are not interested in your skills or
c) solicit additional, specific information about the interested
prospect. For example, your subscription form can ask additional
questions to find out the needs and interests of the prospect.
Make sure your subscription form tells
the prospect what to do with it. Give your mailing address, fax number
or request the prospect to call you to request a free subscription. When
prospects return their subscription forms, plug the information into a
database and begin a subscription mailing list. Your existing clients
should automatically be on this mailing list and should be receiving
your newsletter. At the end of the year, ask those prospects who did not
become paying clients to renew their subscriptions. This way you know
they're still interested in learning more about what you know and how
you can help them.
Writing Effective, Attention-Arresting
Here are some tips to maximize the impact of your newsletter so the
prospect or client reads your information immediately and finds it
* Craft a creative masthead. Do a
brainstorming session with yourself to come up with ideas as to what you
will name your newsletter. For example, when I provided direct mail
writing services, I called my newsletter Konradt's Direct Mail
Directions, because I wanted to create an image in the minds of
prospects and clients that my direct mail writing skills could pull them
in the right direction to get the right results. If you can, use your
full or last name in your newsletter's masthead, so this way the
prospect or client will immediately link your name with the insightful
content of your newsletter.
* Write brief copy. Avoid long-winded
sentences and endless paragraphs. Favor periods over commas.
* Write problem-solving copy. There are
four primary reasons why a prospect or client will read your
newsletter—and one of them is not to be entertained. The prospect or
client either wants to learn something new and different, produce better
results, find solutions to existing or future problems, read case
studies or experiences of your own that will help define his needs or
To grab the prospects interest
immediately, start your newsletter off with a problem that he or she may
face and provide the solution—but not right away. In the middle, give
examples of other businesses that had encountered the same problem
(which you've helped them overcome), results you've gotten for other
clients who faced the same dilemma, and how your skills achieved the
In one of my newsletters I used the
following lead to hook the prospect: "Your small start-up company may
have a great product to sell to the masses via the mail, but don't
anticipate a 1.5% or better response rate. Your sales may be sluggish at
first, and it's not due to competition or not tapping into the 'right'
market. Here's why you might receive a sluggish response, along with 10
preventative measures you can take now to assure a profitable response
• Specifics sell—so always use them. This
includes numbers, statistics, percentages, results, pie charts, graphs,
and so on. Avoid vague or ambiguous generalizations.
• Use bullets and callouts to break up
the copy and pull the reader into your main points.
• Craft creative column headings to
separate the copy and pull the prospect into your information. Here are
some column headings that I've used: Put Power into Your Promo
Pieces: a column about crafting copy to pull in an order; and if not
an order, a response. Envelope Screaming: Is it Necessary? a
column about the pros and cons of writing copy on the outer envelope to
grab attention. Repetition is the Key to a Profitable Response: a
column about marketing repeatedly to the same prospective customer to
solicit an order.
• Use first person form to create
intimacy, and speak to the reader in second-person form with the word,
• Provide promotional particulars at the
end. It's okay to include your name, title, a 1-2 line promotional line
or positioning statement that states what type of freelancer you are and
who you freelance for, phone numbers and address, and a footnote of the
types of freelance services you provide.
• Include incentives. Offer a Free
Consultation or a free incentive to get the prospect to contact you to
learn more about your services and how you can help him or her. I often
provide a Free Consultation offer: "Do you need professional advice with
your current or upcoming project? Call me. I know what works—and what
doesn't. Let's discuss your needs. Any time: 201-262-3277."
• Lastly, add a brief biography line
Brian Konradt is the owner and operator
FreelanceWriting.com, a Web site dedicated to help writers master
the business and creative sides of freelance writing. Mr. Konradt is
also the principal of BSK Communications & Associates, a
communications/publishing business in New Jersey, which he established