Law firms often send out newsletters just as other businesses do. This is good practice. However, there are certain things to bear in mind when going about the business of creating newsletters if you wish to create an impact – a positive one, that is.
1. Design It Correctly:
The visual impact of a newsletter is undeniable since it is something the reader may well ignore: it is not from a friend, nor is it a job offer. If the newsletter looks unappealing at first glance, chances are, it will not be read – and the next ones will probably not be opened at all.
Branding works – it is something every business should be aware of. Maintaining consistency in design of your newsletter is the first step to creating and maintaining your brand. You should create a template and keep to it (until it is time to change to a better design). Things to keep in mind are font and font size, use of whitespace, use of images, paragraph breaks (small chunks of text add to readability), layout that is pleasant to the eye, logo or brand name prominently displayed, and contact details either below it or at the end of the letter – again, prominently displayed.
First impressions count, so make the most of it and get them to start reading.
2. And Once They Start Reading…
What do they find? Legal jargon? Undecipherable phrases? Boring legal nuances and description of cases that have no bearing upon them? We sure hope not!
You have to understand the difference between writing a paper for your colleagues or professors and writing a newsletter to the layperson. Write in plain English. Avoid legal terminology or use them sparingly and take care to explain their meaning. Avoid writing about things that interest you as a lawyer but will likely fall flat on the average person.
The newsletter is supposed to be something that enlightens the recipient about legalities in plain language, provide information they can use in real life, point out laws that they may not ordinarily be aware of and, in general, help them to understand the world around them from the point of view of a lawyer – but always in plain language.
3. When Do You Plan to Write the Next One?
Are you the kind of lawyer who works on newsletters when they have the time for it? Good luck to your newsletters, in that case. Unless you plan your schedule and include the newsletter writing time in it as something that has to be done, it will never get done. You cannot send sporadic emails and hope to get prospective clients interested. Always send them in at regular intervals. That could be weekly or monthly or bi-monthly, but maintain the regularity. And, of course, a bi-monthly newsletter is expected to contain much more information than one that is sent on a weekly basis.
4. Are You Selling Yourself Right?
Newsletters are sales letters insofar as they are originally sent out with the intent to find new clients. Still, the process is one of soft-selling. You cannot afford blatant advertisement. Think about it: are you interested in your prospective client’s achievements? Why would anyone want to receive mails that announce in bold letters how good you are?
It is definitely required that you show your recipients how good you are – why else would they want to be your clients? Certainly not because you write entertaining newsletters!
There is no single solution to this problem, and it is a problem. How much is too much? If you think about it, however, you are sure to come up with something. For example, you could mention in hyperlinked bullet points your recent victories, but in the sidebar. Anyone interested knowing more would have the option of clicking on the links.
You could also put in a small box with details about the employee of the month, perhaps, and mention in a teaser that he or she has won a great victory for your firm and then trail off with a ‘read more’ anchor text. This way, if your newsletter has the excellent content it is supposed to have, a section of your readers will certainly want to know more, and those that don’t will at least take note of how good you are. They will not feel this as hype and yet, your message will be delivered.
Just One More Thing before We End: you have put in contact details in your newsletter for people to contact you. Make sure there is someone at the other end of the telephone at the hours you mentioned. Make sure also that you are monitoring the email address you mentioned to ensure a prompt reply. The successful newsletter is really a means to an end, and it will show real success only when you keep the end in mind at all times.
Cally Greene is a blogger and works with www.SparksDUIAttorney.com as Online Consultant. She likes blogging about Social Media Strategies, Online Marketing and Legal Issues. You can follow her on Google+.