How To Write a Concise and Useful e-newsletter That Will Get Read

BY Chris Wilkerson

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A newsletter published to promote a law firm can be an excellent way to keep a firm’s name in front of its clients and come across as experts to those who need legal help.

But it is not an easy task to write a newsletter that will actually catch the eye of clients and get read. Fortunately, the newsletter that will get read might be easier to pull together than the one that gets tossed in the clients’ trash.

The decision-makers in your firm most likely have limited time. The nature of their jobs as executives has them reading mountains of copy every month for work. And the stuff they are reading for work is probably boring. The last thing they need is a boring, time-consuming newsletter from their law firm. Clients do not want to know about the managing partner’s family vacation. They will not read about anyone else’s hobbies or babies.

The firm’s newsletter, therefore, should be concise, frequent and useful.

Keep it short
A newsletter simply will not be read from start to finish if it does not start and finish on the same page. It needs to be shorter than a church bulletin or a Chinese take-out menu and longer than a golf scorecard or a wedding invitation.

Long articles indicate to the reader that they must make a significant investment of time on them and more often than not, they will decide against it. Everything in the newsletter needs to be concise and digestible. Each item (and there is no reason for there to be more than three or four items) should read in five minutes or less.

Items in the newsletter need short but informative headlines or titles that have a noun and a verb so the reader can step into the story intrigued about what they will learn.

Send it out frequently
A biannual newsletter will get half as much attention as a quarterly newsletter. A quarterly newsletter will get one-third as much attention as a monthly newsletter. See a trend?

Clients are going to spend only a couple of minutes with a firm’s newsletter when they decide to read it at all. If the newsletter gets in the hands of the executive who makes the decision only half the time, then a newsletter twice a year will only seen once and all of that work could be in the hands of the executive for only a few minutes – a year.

A monthly newsletter, if concise and engaging, can be a good tool to keep a firm’s name in front of clients even when there isn’t any work being done. A monthly newsletter will help keep a firm from becoming “out of sight, out of mind.”

Make it useful
The only reason an executive will spend time with a firm’s newsletter is because he or she thinks it will help them make money or use what they have more wisely. Most, if not all, of a firm’s newsletter content should quickly outline how reading it will translate into more money – or, by extension, more time – for the client.

Since these stories already will be short and frequent, there is an opportunity for recurring themes. A newsletter can contain a “Top 5 reasons” segment or a “3 ways to save time” column. These recurring elements will continue to reinforce that a firm is knowledgeable and valuable to a client.

Useful content is in the eye of the beholder and if a firm has a diverse client base, then it can be a challenge to write content that will reach all of them. The clients are not going to read every word of every newsletter anyway, so it is ok to write a “how to” story about family law or a “top 5 reasons” segment about criminal law. The key is to have a healthy mixture so there will be something in the newsletter for all of the firm’s clients.

If a firm produces short, frequent, useful newsletters, there is an opportunity to establish the firm as knowledgeable about the things that matter most to the client.

Chris Wilkerson

Chris Wilkerson is a former contributor to Bigger Law Firm Magazine.


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