How freelancers and consultants can match newsletter content to their markets
To initiate (or continue) a recurring ezine or newsletter for freelance and consulting clients requires a substantial commitment of time, effort and yes, enthusiasm. In contemplating this undertaking, it is vital to consider who your audience is and what they want to read. Specifically, content must match the business vs. consumer orientation of your audience.
Your audience may be business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C). However, I have found that in practice there is a third category, which I’ll call business to small business (B2SB). In my classification system, these small businesses are very small, often as small as one individual, perhaps with virtual assistance or other support.
While for some purposes—perhaps filing their taxes or purchasing liability insurance—these small businesses may be treated as businesses, in terms of communicating with them, their interests are often more like consumers.
Here’s what this means in terms of writing a newsletter to send to your prospects and clients: If your clients are typically very small businesses, their interests in terms of content may be quite similar to what you personally find interesting. For instance, these interests may center around time management, personal effectiveness and such. But if you are marketing to top executives or at least managers in your target industry, they may be more attracted to sophisticated, industry-specific content that demonstrates mastery of the assignments they offer.
It is difficult to develop topics that prove your mastery of industry and / or function developments. It is even more challenging to come up with appropriate subject matter if you assign yourself a demanding publication schedule, such as weekly or even more often.
And while your writing may get faster the longer you write in this format, at the same time your work load should be growing. The more paying assignments you land, the less time you have to read trade journals and ezines and otherwise focus on developing article ideas.
I have found two newsletters that are exemplary in their relevance to their business readers. Each manages the challenges they face a little differently, but they share an important characteristic: The authors must maintain heavy reading and research schedules to generate content that appeals to their audiences.
First is Vickie Sullivan, who describes herself as a “market strategy for thought leaders,” including professional speakers and B2B service firms. Her newsletter, called “Tips, Trends and Tirades,” has approximately three items per issue and multipurposes her blog content. She summarizes current articles, identifies her sources (often Fast Company magazine or trade journals for convention planners or corporate trainers) and explains the significance of each item. In other words, she positions herself as a “thought leader” on par with her clients.
Second is Bob Bly, copywriter / consultant. His newsletter is “The Direct Response Letter,” a monthly ezine supplemented with additional e-mailings in which Bly communicates his own lessons and opinions on copywriting, marketing and other topics. The additional communications are excellent, but in this article I’m focusing on the monthly issue, which is a digest summarizing recent articles on diverse subjects. The info he offers generally speaks for itself; implications seldom need to be spelled out. He clearly scans a massive amount of content to select approximately 10 items per issue that are worthy of coverage.
If you market to a true B2B market, these newsletters provide a standard to pursue in terms of both quality of content and consistency in publications schedule. I’ve been reading both for years.
Originally posted 1-28-14