With these newsletters and other publications, companies today have a tremendous opportunity to position themselves for long-term growth by building a community of prospects, customers and business partners at a modest cost. But it isn’t easy.
The Internet has been flooded with information, much of it useless sales speak. Prospects and customers receive hundreds, if not thousands, of emails a day. Breaking through the noise requires a unique delivery mechanism.
The first requirement is that the publication be developed as an indispensable read. Unfortunately, this concept flies in the face of the typical corporate newsletter, which typically contains press releases and sales pitches. These days, such newsletters will be deleted on sight.
To become a must read, corporate publications will either contain important information or analysis that the reader cannot get anywhere else, or will aggregate a narrow slice of information that’s being reported elsewhere.
An example of the former is a monthly newsletter produced by Austin-based Troux Technologies Inc. called Architecture & Governance. The publication provides leadership articles in a narrow area — enterprise architecture and IT governance.
It’s doubtful that those interested in this field could get as much analysis in a single quarterly publication as they find in A&G. After quantifying its success, Troux is about to enter its fifth year of publishing the newsletter.
Another example of a corporate publication that Charles Schwab Inc. sends to clients and prospects is Trader Digest. This newsletter is published as a monthly e-newsletter and a quarterly print publication. Both feature original content, as well as some relevant content that has been published elsewhere. The editorial staff includes brief summaries of relevant industry articles, which include links to the full articles on the Internet.
To get the most out of a publication, a marketing team should be fully engaged with the managing editor. This especially comes into play with the aforementioned relevant articles about the industry.
A close relationship between the company and its managing editor can also heighten the effectiveness of a corporate publication in other ways. For example, if a company is maintaining a successful public relations campaign, the fruits of that labor — articles written by journalists — can be included in an industry news section, or even reprinted in part, thereby broadcasting the article to the readership.
Similarly, the managing editor of such a publication should work closely with the company’s business development professional to facilitate the trading of content between newsletters. The company would benefit from its content appearing in the newsletter of a partner company.
Working closely with business development also offers other benefits in that the company can hold the publishing of a story as a benefit for the partner company, and receive something in return.
Two key questions should be addressed before embarking on such a project. First, does the company want to blatantly brand the newsletter as being published by the company? The simple answer is typically yes if the company is in a mature or crowded industry. The answer is no if the company is pioneering a niche, such as what Troux is doing in the enterprise architecture space. The company need not be deceptive with this, but should be subtle.
Second, does the company have a professional in house who can oversee such a successful publication? The answer may be yes if the company has a marketing person with journalism experience and plenty of bandwidth. Companies should be leery of turning over such an assignment to a typical public relations firm as such publication management typically falls outside their wheelhouse.
In short, a company that wants to publish such a newsletter should look for:
- Creative editorial development.
- Professional writing skills.
- Managing editor experience.
- Publishing background.
- Graphics and design capabilities.
- Proofing capabilities.
- Printing sources.
- Distribution and fulfillment capabilities.
- Project management focus.
Newsletters and magazines remain a fertile ground for establishing rapport with customers and prospects. But publishing a newsletter that offers little benefit to that audience is a costly exercise that’s best avoided. Unlike many other marketing tools that leverage the Internet, companies that choose this route are best off producing a quality must-read publication, or none at all.