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Keep cheese and waffles confined to your plate, not your newsletters

I recently received a newsletter from a marketing company in my inbox. Not an unusual experience for most of you I’m sure, and it’s not for me either. I must get hundreds over the course of a year from businesses of all sizes and types whether I’ve subscribed to them or not. Sometimes I read them if I’m curious, need a break or because, as a copywriter, I write newsletters regularly for clients and have a natural interest in how others write them.

This occasion was one of the times I was curious about the newsletter, so I started to read. The first thing I noticed – for the wrong reasons – was the introduction. It had 5-lines of text and no-less than 4-exclamation marks in the opening paragraph. There was no need for any of them. The newsletter had begun by trying to make a witty comment and had emphasised it by inserting exclamation marks after every couple of words. The result came across as cheesy and unprofessional. It didn’t make me want to carry on as an interested reader but I did so simply to see how the rest of the document was written.

The newsletter continued in much the same manner. There was mixing of tenses, too many exclamation marks, bad grammar, homophone miss-use and lots and lots of waffle.  Most of the articles and items inside contained serious marketing tips that could probably work for most businesses but their message was lost because of the way they were written. The company concerned was trying to portray a less-corporate side through its newsletter and injecting a bit of humour and personality into it. There’s nothing wrong with that but filling the page with sentences and paragraphs that aren’t needed and writing in such a light-hearted way just turned me off. Ending nearly every statement with an exclamation mark made most of the content read like a kids’ comic or magazine, and not a respectable, serious business newsletter.

Newsletters, printed or online, remain a great way to engage with your clients. You can show a less corporate side and personality that’s often lacking on your website or brochure. But it has to stay professional and reflect your brand. If the newsletter’s tone is too informal and it contains spelling and grammatical errors, your customers won’t be impressed. Will they want to be featured in it or want to receive it in the future if they feel that’s what your company represents? A good newsletter should be relevant, interesting and have a mix of serious and fun items in it. Think about your favourite magazine or newspaper. Why do you like them? It’s probably because the articles are well-written, are of interest to you and give you information that’s useful. A business newsletter should do the same.

Cheese and waffle make a tasty meal on your plate. Keep them there, not in your newsletters.



Nick Pagan