As a believer in life-long learning, I was pleased to recently receive my Professional Writing Certificate Specializing in Marketing and Public Relations from University of Calgary. I completed the certificate over several years whilst working and running my writing business. The study really helped me develop my professional writing skills and specialist knowledge.
A range of courses were covered in the study program—from Copyediting and Proofreading to Strategic Writing for Public Relations and Marketing. Although all the courses were useful, I found Copywriting – Words that Sell and Writing Effective Online Content particularly useful and inspiring.
Just one of the many big learning takeaways: Any business stands to reap the rewards if they develop and implement an effective content marketing strategy to build their audience. Few businesses do this well. Small businesses stand to win big (for a small outlay) when they engage an audience with useful content and become sought after for their trusted expertise. This all takes time, of course.
Enough of the learning takeaways! If you’re interested in developing your writing skills for your workplace or as a freelance writer, I highly recommend the Professional Writing Certificate. Here’s a link to University of Calgary.
And if you don’t have the time or resources to study right now, you might like to get yourself a copy of these outstanding books (my top 3 from the program):
1. Everybody Writes, Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley
2. The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly
3. Public Relations, The Essentials of Style and Format by Thomas H. Bivins
For good reason many businesses and organisations publish newsletters: they’re a great way to communicate to their market.
By sending out a newsletter to your customers and prospects, you can let them know more about how your business can address their needs. Your newsletter might also serve your employees, allowing them to learn more about the business and giving them the opportunity to have their voice heard.
Writing a great small business newsletter is not without its challenges. Quality content is the key. As any good writer will tell you, you’ve got to put yourself in your readers’ shoes—what will they get out of reading your newsletter? Here are 5 key points to keep you on track when writing:
5 key points to writing a small business newsletter
To explain these, I have presented them below in a simple case study.
Case Study: Sandy and Ben’s Mobile Car Detailing Service
Sandy and Ben have been running their mobile car detailing service for some time now. They have plenty of customers, but they realise they could do better if they encouraged their customers to book their cars in for regular detailing. They decide to achieve this through a regular newsletter. Here is how they go about it using the 5 key points listed above.
1. Newsletter aim
Sandy and Ben agree on their newsletter aim:
To build a base of 100 regular customers within 12 months by letting people know about the true value of the car detailing service.
Their newsletter will drive home key messages such as how their services save people time and money, and how handwashing with specialised products and cleaning equipment produces far superior results than a run-of-the-mill automatic carwash.
2. Newsletter audience
Sandy and Ben employ 8 auto detailers. They all do a great job. Although Sandy and Ben value their employees, they realise there’s little point in publishing an employee newsletter for such a small audience. So, they decide to create a newsletter for both employees and customers. By targeting such an internal / external audience, they can raise everyone’s awareness of the business, and they can give their regular customers and employees the recognition they deserve.
3. Newsletter content
Sandy and Ben realise their newsletter had better be informative and entertaining if they hope to engage their readers. Like all of us, they’ve seen way too many spammy newsletters that simply try to sell. So, they decide to include the following:
Information such as prices, services, deals, booking info, etc.
Short and engaging articles: anything from a spotlight on a customer or an employee, an event or non-profit group that the business sponsors, hints and tips about car detailing, etc.
Personal messages from Sandy and Ben about their business, their customers, and their community.
Small talk from employees or customers–their feedback, ideas, and stories they would like to share.
There really is no limit to the number of story ideas that Sandy and Ben might generate around their business! The more good content they share, the more their customers will get to know and trust them and their key messages.
4. Newsletter format: print or digital?
Although there are some advantages with a digital newsletter format (including free layouts and distribution through an email list), Ben and Sandy decide to focus on a simple low-cost print newsletter—one they can hand to their satisfied customers along with the keys to their freshly detailed cars. Their customers will hopefully read the newsletter and keep it handy for next time they book.
5. Newsletter frequency
Sandy and Ben are very busy with daily business operations. They have little time to write a newsletter, but they understand the importance of producing quality content to achieve their business aim. So, they decide to publish a monthly newsletter—allowing them time to come up with the kind of content that everyone will want to read.
Publish, monitor and improve
Having worked their way through the 5 key points listed above, Ben and Sandy publish and distribute their newsletter to their customers. And they measure the response to see if their newsletter achieves its aim. Along the way they strive to improve their content and continually come up with fresh story ideas. Their monthly newsletter takes time and effort to produce, but the long-term payoffs are well worth it. The payoffs from publishing a great quality newsletter can be worth it for your business too!
Now it’s your turn!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and are inspired to write or improve your small business newsletter. May it bring you many rewards! You are welcome to comment below or contact me: Did I miss any key points? Do you agree / disagree with any points? Would you like more information? I am very happy to share your thoughts or answer your questions.
Next month’s blog post: Letter Writing—The Lost Art Of
When was the last time you sent a hand-written letter? Whether it was last month or last millennium, chances are, the person who received your letter also read it carefully. Would they have done so with an email or social media post? You’ve got a month to think about this and the huge implications! I look forward to surprising you with “Letter Writing – The Lost Art Of” very soon.
Planned publication date: Monday 17th February 2020.
Here’s to 2020! Chances are you’re reading this long after the last champagne cork was popped at the dawn of a new decade. Like many of us on New Year’s Eve, you might have gazed up at the fireworks or the stars and wondered what the new decade has in store for you. Perhaps you’ve decided not to leave it all up to fate and have made a new year’s resolution (or two) to make 2020 all the richer for you.
Although none of us can see the future, we can aim to see the present clearly and act with corresponding clarity toward achieving our vision, paving our path of business prosperity. Such is the guiding theme for the Ginkgo Copywriting blog posts for 2020—The Year of Achieving Your Vision.
The blog posts will focus on showing how you can achieve your business vision through various communication forms, including:
Newsletters—keeping people connected, informed and inspired
Letter writing—the lost art of
Blog posts / blog posting strategies
Social media posting
Meeting up—the importance of coming together and the power of collaboration
Creative writing—sunshine for the imagination
Blog Post Frequency
Ginkgo Copywriting will post the 4th Monday of every month. Please feel free to subscribe to the blog posts to keep up to date. And you are most welcome to comment.
Next Blog Post: Newsletters
The next blog post (Monday 27th January 2020) will be focused on how to write an effective newsletter to keep the people important to your business connected, informed and inspired. Until then, wishing you a prosperous start to the new decade!
Hello, and thank you for reading the very first Ginkgo Copywriting blog post by Paul Malone. I hope you enjoy reading the post and return for more. New posts will go up the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month as of January 2020. Before I explain why you might like to subscribe to these posts, here’s a little about me:
About Paul Malone
An Australian living in Austria
As you might have read on the Ginkgo
Copywriting website, I am a published Australian author and professional writer
living in Austria for over a decade now. How is it that an Australian winds up
in Austria for so long? Well, it wasn’t entirely planned. A year or two turned
into three, then five, then twelve. Two kids later and the growing Malone
family is still here. Fortunately, Austria is a nice place to live—Vienna is at
our doorstep, the mountains to our west, all that sort of thing.
A commitment to life-long learning
Way back in the nineties, while working in a
family business, I studied and eventually graduated from Monash University in
Melbourne with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Honours). I have since worked in
various engineering consultancies in Australia and Europe, on all sorts of
interesting construction projects. All the while though, I have kept
writing—fiction, freelance articles, business, and copywriting material. Being
a believer in life-long learning, I have taken numerous bespoke writing courses
along the way, including those leading to a Certificate in Professional Writing
Specialising in Marketing and Public Relations from the University of Calgary
(completion early 2020).
At some point not so long ago, I decided to make a career change—from engineer to professional writer. So, I founded Ginkgo Copywriting. As you can see, you’ve caught me right at the start of things! I hope you may accompany on the journey that follows.
Below you can see me standing alongside Dr. Isabelle Samstag-Kobler from the Austrian Economic Chambers (WKO) on the day I registered for my copywriting trade licence (Gewerbeschein: Werbetexter). Not only was Dr. Samstag-Kobler very helpful, guiding me through the registration process, she also looked so impressive in her traditional Austrian attire that I thought this was a photo opportunity not to be missed!
About the Ginkgo Copywriting Blog
Now you know a little about me, here’s the aim of the Ginkgo Copywriting Blog: Through short yet informative posts, Ginkgo Copywriting will help readers find simple and practical solutions to their business communications problems—everything from how to attract more customers using social media, to how to write a winning business proposal. Naturally this is a lot of territory to cover—not just sales copywriting but also informative content geared towards business operations. Although each post will focus on one problem (and solution) at a time, they will be united by a bi-monthly theme.
Aside from this opening post,Ginkgo Copywriting will post the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month, starting in January 2020.