Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tried and tested content ideas

In the last eTip I argued that an email newsletter should be seen as a long term marketing tool, not just a vehicle for sales messages.

That means including a good proportion of non-promotional content - some would say as much as 60%.

Which is all very well, but what if you're just selling something less than glamorous, like spare parts for washing machines, or tax advice, or plastic cups? How do you find the inspiration for engaging, interesting, valuable non-sales-related content, month after month?
Here are a few tried and tested content ideas:

  • Behind the scenes: how a product is made, where it comes from, how it's transported, who's involved.
  • Did you know: a (genuinely) interesting or useful fact
  • Insider tip: give away your expertise for free
  • Other readers: an example, issue or success story that readers can empathise with
  • People & animals: recurring characters, putting faces to names, shaggy dog tales
  • Backgrounder: putting your products or services in a wider context, how the business started
  • Jargon buster: de-mystifying things, letting the reader into an 'inner circle', self-deprecating humour
  • Simple competition/giveaway: something that involves people going to your website or reading your brochure can work well!

There has to be a point to your non promotional content, of course. It must have some relevance to your readers and to your products/services. (Sounds obvious, but it is possible to lose sight of this!)

You want people to read it and think 'that's interesting / enjoyable / useful enough for me to want to open and read the next newsletter.' Over a period of time you also want them to think 'these are people I respect /trust /could do business with.'

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