The need for regular communications with your existing clients as a way of maintaining relationships and staying in contact is clear. One of the best ways to stay in touch with clients is through a newsletter. Even if you do not own the company for which you work, you might consider a personal newsletter to build your brand with clients and to further establish your value to your agency. While publishing a newsletter is no small undertaking, it is well worth the effort. Done well, it will build your brand and contribute substantially to your marketing efforts, helping to establish you as an expert in your field. Done poorly, it may do damage to your practice. So let’s do this well.
To be a success, your travel newsletter will require good content, good design and a circulation. If we take each of these components up in turn, we can better understand how to begin. Here are a few tips that will assist you in working a newsletter into your marketing plan for next year.
The most important consideration is content. Your newsletter should be centered around an editorial mission – its reason for being. Perhaps the mission of the newsletter is to inform and entertain. Perhaps your newsletter’s mission is to present the best travel bargains available or the most interesting trips of the month, or perhaps a some mix of these objectives. Whatever its mission, you should be able to state it in a short sentence.
Having an editorial mission will keep you focused on appropriate content, giving your newsletter an “edge” in capturing the reader’s attention. Some content you can derive from the faxes and emails that arrive each day from suppliers. Other content can come from sources like USA Today or Budget Travel or any of a number of mainstream media. While you cannot infringe on the copyright of these publications by reproducing their articles, you can summarize and link to them, or you can use them as inspiration for your own articles. Make sure that your content is engaging. Just listing 20 “ho-hum” specials without any unifying rationale will not be likely to contribute to your brand in a positive manner. Readers like short, easy to understand articles with a headline that grabs their attention. “5 places to Hide-Out this Fall” / “The 10 Top Destinations for Buddy Trips” / “Girlfriend Getaways“. The headline should grab the reader and push them into the article. Keep in mind that TRO publishes content specifically for professional travel agents to send to clients in newsletters.
The design of your newsletter, especially early-on, should be simple. It can be plain text in an email if done well, or it can be a multi-color print product. Your newsletter might be a conventional format like TRO’s Travelgram, or it might be a blog-style periodical. In any case, keep the need to be very easily readable in mind. Good fonts and font sizes, bold headlines and good use of white space. People scan a newsletter for articles they want to read. Make the headlines highly visible and engaging. Make good use of graphical elements. All of our previous discussions about professional design and graphics apply here as well. Use a good template or have a local graphic artist assist you in your design.
“Circulation” speaks to the readership as well as the timing and manner of delivery of your newsletter. Will your newsletter be a hard-copy print product? If so, how will you deliver it and to whom? Will it be emailed? If so, to only your existing clients or to potential clients as well? How often will you send it out? Maybe it will be only on your web site. If so, how will you promote the newsletter? Make it easy for your readers to comment on your articles and to pass it along to others.
Once you commit to a newsletter, you need to continually develop your writing and research skills. A few weeks into the process you can evaluate the return you are generating. You can decide if your brand is receiving the positive feedback for which you hoped when you launched your new endeavor.
Exercise – Consider adding a newsletter to your 2012 Marketing Plan or enhancing your current efforts at publishing a newsletter. Write down the “editorial mission” of your newsletter. Look for good templates that make your content highly visible and readable. As an experiment go to USA Today and Budget Travel or Forbes Travel or TRO’s daily Travelgram and find content that you might use in your newsletter.
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