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Writing Memorable Newsletters: Themes

Remember, a theme for a newsletter is a one word or phrase that encapsulates or summarizes the subject of a given issue of your email newsletter. The theme helps in two ways. First, it helps you develop and filter content elements for the issue. Second, and more importantly, a theme helps your readers to grasp the value you are imparting to them. A well defined theme helps your readers remember your content and consequently your company.

Most publishing teams map out issue themes well in advance. Often times months in advance. This is a by product of the long lead times that traditional publications have. Magazines and print newsletters often require weeks and months for production, printing and mailing. But it's a new day. With electronic publishing it's possible to move much more quickly. In order to deliver the greatest value to your readers the more relevant and timely your theme the better.

How do you develop a theme? Ah, the key question. While many sales and marketing people would be quick to map out a schedule of themes based on the messages and stories that the company wants to broadcast this I think is a mistake. This turns your e-newsletter into an advertisement or worse spam. The best practice for developing email newsletter themes is to get elbow deep in the information and issues that are important to your readers. It's your customer intuition at work. The theme of your newsletters need to come from your knowledge of what your customers/readers want or need to know, not what you want them to know. How you weave your message and offering into that theme is your value as a producer/writer of your newsletter.

Practical Tips:
Talk to your customers - ask them what problems or issues keep them awake at night.
Monitor you customers - Use the Customer Intuition Tools that I blog about to monitor what's happening with your customers, their companies and their competition. Google Alerts and RSS feeds are your friends. Set up folders for each major customer in your newsreader.
Poll you readers - Consider using your permission marketing assets(email lists) to engage your readers in a poll or discussion about issues and topics that are relevant.
Talk to your Sales Department - Develop practices to discover what your sales people are hearing from their customers and prospects. Consider developing a group blog or wiki for capturing this information. Customer concerns questions and objections are a rich source of content ideas for your newsletter.
Monitor the Competition - Subscribe to as many of your competitors newsletters as you can so you can zig when the zag. You want to stand out and provide uniquely relevant and memorable content that will have your readers opening, remembering, using and forwarding your content every issue.

Related:
Writing Memorable Spreadable Email Newsletters
Storytelling vs. Story-crafting
Why a Reader Forwards an Email Newsletter

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November 3, 2005 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, bulk email marketing, Business editorial, business magazine, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, Business publications, Business relationships, CMO, company blog | Permalink

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