A newsletter is one of the best vehicles for building long term relationships with your existing customers and for marketing to potential clients. A newsletter reinforces your company brand and gives you many opportunities to market both strategically and tactically. Newsletters educate, inform, but most importantly, engage your clients, helping to retain them over the long-term.
Satisfied subscribers to a company newsletter are more likely to choose your company when making a purchasing decision. A travel agency newsletter with a readership of dozens, even hundreds, of readers is a very serious and valuable asset for your company. It gives you a marketing channel by which you can reach out and touch the clients closest to you at a minimal expense.
Develop an Editorial Statement
Every newsletter should have an editorial statement. This rather simple and often-stated idea is also often ignored. Too many newsletters are simply produced one after the other without an underlying, consistent theme informing the content, production and distribution. One of the best ways to develop an editorial statement is to begin with your company’s brand message: a short, concise statement of your company’s unique selling point – the reason clients would rather do business with you than with a competitor or by self-booking. The focus should be client-centric: to whom are you speaking?
For example, if your company brand is centered on luxury and high end travel, successive articles about budget travel, discounts and traveling cheaply would be a real disconnect. Likewise, if your brand is focused on a particular demographic, for example college students, articles on high-end hotel chains and luxury cruising would be misplaced. A strong editorial statement will focus on your target audience and will set natural guidelines for your content selection and editorial discretion.
Whether you have a travel newsletter already or whether you are contemplating one, spend a few moments seeing if you can succinctly state an editorial mission. Are you there to inform? Educate? Sell? Reinforce your brand? Which of these aspects will dominate?
Content and Tone of Voice
Your editorial statement will assist you in your selecting appropriate content and tone of voice by taking into full consideration your target audience. The tone of voice that you use in your content will be more authentic when it speaks directly to your market. You want the voice of your writing to be recognizable and sympathetic to your readers. A reader will encounter your newsletter in their inbox – space that is very personal and into which only recognized friends are truly welcome. With that in mind, the importance of knowing and empathizing with your target audience is evident. Because your initial readers will come from your existing client list, work back and forth between your branding message the demographic characteristics of your existing readership to determine that your editorial statement and, therefore, your content and tone of voice are authentic and likely to be welcomed.
Consider the demographic of your readership and develop content guidelines. Spend time reviewing other newsletters and choose articles that appeal to your own sensibilities. Remember you can use articles from TRO’s Outposts Articles, Voyager Series, 60-Second Geography and Activity Guides in your company newsletters, free to travel professionals. If you decide to write your own articles, resources such as USA Today or Budget Travel can provide you with ideas for topics. You can also use the same links you find in Travelgram. Finally, watch for a joint announcement from Passport Online and TRO in the next couple of weeks of a newsletter program that writes itself!
One of the best places to begin developing a design for a newsletter is with the templates provided by third-party email service providers such as Constant Contact or Streamsend. These programs provide a consistent look and feel and typically many different variations are available. You can also opt to design a template from scratch. This latter option I would recommend only for those most adept at graphic design. It is very important for your newsletter to have a professional look and feel as it is a regular ambassador for your brand.
Keep your design simple. A very popular format, one that TRO uses in its Travelgram, is to place bold headlines and a short lead-in to the article with a link to the full story. This allows your reader to quickly scan the newsletter for articles of interest.
Place your company logo in a very visible place on the newsletter to clearly identify your brand. Don’t clutter the whitespace with too many graphics and pictures. If you want to use pictures, consider licensing them from a site such as Shutterstock or iStockphoto, both of which have very reasonable rates on a large library of photographs.
TRO has a recorded webinar on Building or Enhancing a Travel Agency Newsletter that you may find helpful.
A strong newsletter will retain the attention of your readership for years to come. Done correctly, your company will be top-of-mind when the reader next thinks about travel.
Tomorrow – Building relationships with a newsletter