4 Reasons To Have a Print Newsletter

For several years now, there’s been an ongoing discussion about print as a dying medium – this simply isn’t the case! The role of print has undoubtedly changed – evolved. The fact remains that people see real value in print. E-mail certainly has its advantages as a simple, low-cost method of communication, but its advantages are also the source of some of its greatest weaknesses (read the Four Pitfalls of an Email-only Approach). Here are some reasons why you should consider using a print newsletter:

1. The all-powerful ‘Delete’ button.

Whether it’s by accident or due to an overcrowded inbox or your client/prospect having a terrible case of the Mondays, your e-mail newsletter always faces the chance of being deleted before it’s even read.

2. E-mail addresses are subject to change.

What’s more likely to change: a recipient’s e-mail address or their business’ physical address? How many of your e-mail campaigns have bounced due to a bad e-mail address within the last six months? With a print version of a newsletter, your message has a high probability of reaching a lead/prospect at a company – even if a contact or e-mail address changes.

3. Print has a higher-perceived value than e-mail.

Because a newsletter can be easily kept within reach, shared with friends/associates, and doesn’t involve accessing a computer to read, print versions are more effective in the long-term. Additionally, the quality of a printed piece has shown to speak value of a company’s products or services. According to the fourth annual Signs of the Times report by Fed Ex, over 90% of small business owners believe that a company’s print marketing/advertising materials reflects the value of the company’s products and services. Read more about additional findings of that report here.

4. Print is still preferred by many.

The fact is that while some people prefer to receive an e-mail, others would much rather receive something in print. It’s likely that a person’s age, profession and proficiency with a computer will to some degree influence his/her delivery preference for marketing materials. Interestingly enough, even young, tech-savvy adults still prefer to receive marketing offers in print, rather by e-mail. For example, a 2010 survey by ICOM (a division of Epsilon Targeting) found that by a wide margin, 18-34 year-olds prefer to learn about marketing offers via mail rather than through online sources.

What Should My Print Newsletter Include?

Aside from collecting content, the most difficult or time-consuming task will be designing your newsletter. For this,  it would be wise to consult a design professional; someone who can present you with several concepts, design around your copy & images, and also provide more information on printing & production. If you’re already sending out an e-newsletter with some success, then you probably have a very good idea of what constitutes creating a print version, but whatever the case, here are a few key components that your print newsletter should include:

1. More about you.

If you’re implementing a print newsletter to generate more business, try not to be too “salesy” in your approach. Look for a good balance of marketing/sales content and personal content. Aside from showing recipients what you have to offer, use the newsletter to reveal more about you. They may not want to hear your life story, but a personal touch to your content will give them a better idea of who you are.

2. Case studies using work that you’ve done for past/current clients.

These are integral to your newsletter because they provide insight into how you’ve successfully addressed your others needs. Your newsletter recipients need to know that you have a history of helping others with their needs before they can trust you with their own.

3. Client testimonials that speak for themselves.

What your clients have reveal about working with you is much more powerful than what you have to say about yourself. Ask your clients for their endorsement/recommendation in writing and then use these in your newsletter to establish credibility.

4. Loads of valuable content.

Provide your recipients with valuable information that they would have difficulty obtaining on their own. You’re ultimately the judge of what you feel is important enough to make it into your newsletter,  but your content should focus on content that’s relevant to your recipients. There are plenty of ways to go about collecting/creating content for your newsletter – here are just a few:

  •  Start a blog and write your own content that addresses the problems and concerns of your clients, leads & prospects.
  • Write a white paper dealing with a specific subject, then use that content elsewhere.
  • Subscribe to several industry newsletters, RSS feeds and publications. These are great sources of content for your own newsletter – just remember to cite the source!
  • Invite guest writers to write about a subject.
  • Hire a ghost writer to generate content for you.

5. A call to action.

Case studies, client testimonials and other content gives you credibility, but more importantly it shows recipients that you have something valuable to offer them. A call to action (CTA) encourages your recipients to take the next step through a simple, focused command. “E-mail me for your chance to win”, “Call for a brochure” and “Use this code with your next online order” are examples. A CTA can take several forms, depending on how and through what medium you would like your recipients to respond. Whichever medium(s) you choose, make sure you can measure the results.

6. Other ways to connect with you.

Along with your street address and phone number, be sure to include the URLs of any social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) that you presently use along with your website and e-mail address. Show your recipients that there are several ways to engage with you on their own terms, online or off.

7. Ask for feedback.

Requesting feedback may be the best way to tell whether or not your readership is finding your newsletter as resourceful as you hope it is. Feedback you collect can be used to fine-tune your newsletter or make drastic improvements if necessary.

Other things to consider:

1. Send your newsletter as bulk mail.

If you are mailing out 200 or more pieces, you may be able to send your newsletter as standard mail at a significantly lower, bulk mail rate.

2. Have both print and e-mail versions of your newsletter.

Not only are you giving recipients control over how they would like to receive information from you, but you can then tailor future campaigns based on their preferences.

3. Offer your newsletter for free.

This sounds a little ridiculous as you probably already offer it for free, but doing so means it will be perceived with additional value.

4. Encourage referrals.

Asking current clients or associates for referrals via phone or e-mail can sometimes be uncomfortable and may take a great deal of time, whereas a print newsletter can do the job for you.

5. Print your newsletter on recycled paper.

When it’s possible, consider printing your newsletter on paper containing post consumer waste (PCW). You should also encourage them to recycle your newsletter once they’re finished with it.

6. Keep copies of your newsletter on hand.

For all of its valuable information, your print newsletter may be one of your most powerful marketing pieces. Consider distributing your newsletter by hand around town or as handouts at networking events, conferences and similar events. Providing new contacts with highly valuable information is a great way to make an introduction.

Apples to Apples

This past December, I ran a poll that asked participants if they had ever worked with a freelancer, design studio or agency. It was conducted to gather more information about individuals and businesses went about deciding who they turn to – and who they weren’t turning to – for solutions to their visual communications needs.

As a follow-up that poll, in March: this time to gather more information about how individuals and businesses select creative professionals to work with. The poll asked this question: If you have worked with a freelancer, studio or agency in the past, what factor(s) influenced your decision to work with them the most? Here are some of the findings:

  • One half of the participants either hire creative professionals based on their prior experience/history with them and/or the pricing given for their services.
  • Nearly 40% of participants choose a creative professional based on the quality of their work.
  • 13% of participants specified their own reasons for choosing a creative professional for their design needs.
  • Based on poll findings, the reputation or recognition that a creative professional seems to have little influence on the individuals’ decision of whom to work with: no one specified ‘Their reputation’ as a factor in their decision-making process.

These findings support the fact that while many small and mid-size businesses may be working with larger agencies for help with their visual communications, they would benefit a great deal from working with a freelancer or design studio instead. Though the advantages are many, I’ll supply two significant reasons for doing so: the comparative abilities that many freelancers & studios possess, and the cost-effectiveness of choosing this route.

Abilities

The one great advantage of working with an agency is the large pool of in-house resources that agencies have to draw from for highly structured projects spanning specific areas of marketing, advertising and design. Unfortunately, if a client doesn’t necessarily need to draw from all of the resources an agency represents, they may still be paying for them – or at least their associated overhead costs – in one way or another. This is where freelancers and design studios exhibit a great advantage. Seasoned, experienced freelancers and creative professionals that work at or own design studios are often resourceful, well-connected individuals with a large pool of resources to draw from on an as needed basis. They may not be your ‘one-stop shop’ for all of your creative needs, but they still have the ability to find quality solutions to your communications objectives through one of their many outlets.

Pricing

A survey conducted by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (2008) concluded that large American ad agencies billed clients on average $974.00 an hour with smaller agencies (50 employees or less) still charging rates of nearly $300 per hour. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’re ever visited an agency in person, but at these rates, you’re not only paying the salary of the chief creative director handling your project, but a multitude of agency overhead costs as well. Considering all the additional expenditures and overhead agencies accumulate in daily business, it’s no surprise that many existing and emerging small business owners can invest in the talents these agencies have to offer. The costs involved become the key proponent of the process, rather than the value that the work can and should bring to their business.

Inversely, the hourly rates of solo practitioners/freelancers are considerably lower than the rates of creative professionals working at agencies. According to a survey conducted by HOW Magazine (2007) these groups are charging just south of $70 for their services, with the lowest average hourly rates around $27. The report also indicates that freelancers working in the Midwest (myself included) offer some of the most competitive rates in the country, charging on average $65 per hour.

Why the difference in price?, Is it because these professionals are less experienced or skilled in their craft? While there’s bound to be a bad one in every bunch, just as there is in every field, this difference in price is due largely to the fact that many freelancers choose to work from home or a smaller office, giving them the ability to keep prices low due to minimal overhead costs and passing on considerable savings to their clients. When compared to the rates given for agencies both large and small, business owners and individuals should not only be more comfortable with these rates, but can also focus on the value of the work a freelancer or studio represents, instead of the price tag associated with their services.

Given some of the advantages of working with a freelancer or design studio, why aren’t more businesses, both great and small, giving them more consideration? The value and quality of work freelancers and studios have is shared equally with their agency counterparts and the hourly fees serving as a basis for much of the work they do, along with low overhead costs indicate that they’re an affordable alternative for any sized business.

In conclusion, it makes sense to do a little research and find the right fit for your businesses’ visual communications needs before jumping right to what seems like the obvious solution. For many small businesses, the solutions to your graphic design needs can be found in working with a studio like Scott Creative, or one of the many other established, well-respected solo practitioners and graphic design studios that are bound to be in your area. We can save you both time and money while providing the value you would expect from working with a larger agency.