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Yawn...Is That the Same Thing as Last Month?
If your newsletter has gone from va-va-va voom to boring, it's time to get out the desktop publisher's bag of tricks. In order to keep readers interested in the content, you first have to get the attention of the person who will pick the newsletter up to look at it. While budgets may be limited, creativity is not, and there are many techniques you can incorporate into your newsletter to draw attention. Here is a list of ways that you can break the mold and increase the readership for your newsletter.
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1. A Color Cover
While producing the entire newsletter as a color project can cause problems with your budget, creating a color cover can add pop while still keeping your costs down. Make sure that the color scheme you choose is in keeping with your company's color scheme. For example, if your company colors are navy blue and forest green, you'll want to make sure your newsletter is in keeping with these colors.
However, in order to add interest, you'll also want to add a contrasting color. In keeping with the two colors mentioned, perhaps you'll add orange -- not a neon-orange but a more woodsy muted orange. Alternatively, you could add burgundy. Try to keep your colors to an odd number -- three or five works well.
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2. High Resolution Images
Even if your newsletter is in black and white, take the time to make sure that you use high resolution images. Believe it or not, this will make your newsletter far more appealing and it will up its professional appearance. High resolution images are those with 300dpi or greater. What happens when you don't use high-res images? The images can appear blurry, smeared, or even pixellated when you print them out. By having crystal clear images, you can attract the kind of attention you want for your newsletter.
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3. Quality Content
Before continuing with the graphics, it's important to mention quality content. If your content is lackluster or not interesting to readers, you will have a difficult time getting the readership you would like for your newsletter. Instead, it is absolutely vital that you take time to brainstorm and create content that is both informative and interesting.
Don't just stick to "what's going on at our company" type information. You can also include information that will be useful to your readers. For instance, if you include an article on effective fundraising techniques, it's something people are likely to keep and refer back to -- making it an effective marketing tool for your business.
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4. Photographs of People at Events
People love to see pictures of themselves. There should be at least one article per issue that focuses upon the recent events sponsored by your organization and pictures. Ideally, you'll feature this article on the first page of your newsletter with one picture, and then on the inside, you'll have a few more pictures.
If people expect that you will be taking pictures at events, there will be two effects. First, more people will pick up copies of your newsletter (or subscribe to it) because they will be looking to see whether they appear in the pages. Second, more people will attend events if there is a chance they will receive recognition for attending.
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5. Consider Selling Advertising Spots
Advertising brings money into your organization. If you're running a nonprofit organization, you may want to consider selling advertising slots for your newsletter. Not only will this help you to raise money, but, it will increase the awareness others have of your organization. Many companies design their advertisements such that they will be visually appealing, so this also will help create visual interest in your newsletter.
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6. Don't Forget the Importance of White Space!
So, now that you have all these ideas flowing through your head, you may be thinking about how to use every inch of space in your newsletter. Before you over-crowd the pages, consider this: The space in which you do not include any images or text is just as important as the space in which you do include image and text. By ensuring that you leave some empty space, you will make the newsletter more visually appealing, and you will make it easier to read.
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7. Make the Masthead Give Off a "Wow" Factor
It's important that your masthead is visually appealing. It should include your company logo, the name of the newsletter, and perhaps the slogan of your company. Additionally, include the issue number or date for the newsletter.
The masthead should be the same every issue. Don't keep changing it up. People will look for the old masthead and may overlook your newsletter if you change too much. Like the newsletter as a whole, you'll want to use your company colors and make sure that your masthead isn't too "busy." The name of your newsletter should not be competing with other elements.
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8. Watch for Controversial Material
This might seem obvious, but you'd be surprised as to how many people assume other people share their beliefs. If you're wanting to create a newsletter that wows your audience, don't stoop to shock value to get attention. Try to avoid double entendres, risqué images and other things you wouldn't want in your workplace. Granted, if that's your business, then go for it -- just remember that you should warn people so they know what to expect should they open your newsletter at home.
It's not just sexual material that belongs in this category -- and that's important to remember. Some people are sensitive to violence, and if you do not work in politics or for a politically charged company, avoid politics too. You don't want to risk offending others or stirring up controversy.
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9. Contests and Promotions
Consider featuring a contest or promotion in each of your newsletters. Not only can you inspire someone to respond to your newsletter or sign up for your services, but you might also be able to get people to pass your newsletter along. The newsletter contest or promotion should be for something that would be useful to the widest range of people. For example, if you run an editing business, offer five pages free for subscribers. Make sure you give a deadline and change up your contests or promotions frequently.
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10. Table of Contents
Another great tool for producing a newsletter that is successful is the table of contents. This should go on one of the outside pages. In addition to giving a list of where your readers can find the articles they're interested in, consider the usage of teasers. Just as a newspaper does, only begin the article on the outside, then, once the reader is hooked, direct him or her into the newsletter. Include important information near such an article and you'll increase the information conveyed through your newsletter.
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When you redesign your newsletter, it's important that you don't try to effect a lot of changes at once. Otherwise, what could happen is that your readers may become confused and might not be able to follow all of the changes you have created. Instead, change one thing at a time -- perhaps change the cover to color. Next month, add your new masthead.
Also, be sure you don't overdo it. Don't create a garish newsletter just becasue you want to attract more attention. You'll get the wrong kind of attention. Most importantly, have fun with your newsletter ideas.
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Ronda Roberts edits the monthly e-newsletter for Chico Natural Foods Co-Op, and she is working with Stonewall Alliance, Chico, to revive their quarterly print newsletter.
"Carnivorous Plant Newsletter" courtesy of Wikimedia Commons - used only for demonstration purposes here.
"Success in Life" courtesy of screenshot by Ronda Roberts - used only for demonstration purposes here.
"July Newsletter" courtesy of screenshot by Ronda Roberts - used only for demonstration purposes here.
"WFD Newsletter" Courtesy of http://www.euwfd.com/html/news.html - used only for demonstration purposes here.