Rethinking the marketing newsletter

By Jeff Thorsteinson | October 24, 2005 | Last updated on October 24, 2005
6 min read

(October 2005) I suppose you could call the newsletter the Rodney Dangerfield of the marketing world — it doesn’t get any respect. And it’s easy to see why. The newsletter isn’t exciting. It’s not new. It doesn’t win awards. Nobody is gushing about newsletters in marketing books or magazines.

Quite frankly, I’ve always wondered why. Because in a world that’s full of generic marketing, the newsletter stands out as one of the best ways to deliver a niche-specific marketing message. Executed well, a newsletter can communicate information that is relevant and meaningful to a client. When done properly, a newsletter motivates, persuades, and even inspires people to act. It can tell clients and prospects about your personality, and get them interested in your business. Name another marketing tool that can do all that?

The only problem is, most client newsletters don’t come close to realizing their full potential. Since 1994, I’ve read a lot of financial newsletters, from a lot of advisors all across Canada and the U.S. And the vast majority of them are generic, bland, and boring — destined for the garbage can rather than the marketing hall of fame. I expect readers toss them into the trash without even reading a sentence.

Why? I don’t think this is a problem with the newsletter as a marketing medium. Rather, it’s a problem with the way most advisors (and advisory firms) create their newsletters. Simply put, most advisors don’t spend enough time thinking about the marketing purpose of the newsletter. And that’s what distinguishes a plain-Jane newsletter from a PowerNewsletter.

The PowerNewsletter The PowerNewsletter is a fully customized newsletter that furthers your specific marketing goals. It doesn’t simply recount current economic or investment news — it communicates your unique value proposition, your specialized expertise, and your innovative business philosophy. PowerNewsletters help advisors build credibility and visibility in the market, which has a direct and positive impact on business. Yes, because of their customization they cost more per unit (in both time and money), but the payoff is infinitely greater.

Of course, there’s more than one way to make a newsletter. But there are several qualities that PowerNewsletters have in common. I’ve listed ten of them below. With each of them, I’ve included some key questions that will help you determine whether your newsletter is a PowerNewsletter.

1. Strengthens client relationships The PowerNewsletter reflects the needs and interests of your clients. Its content demonstrates how you care about your clients’ prosperity and well-being, which in turn encourages client retention. Questions to ask yourself: How does this newsletter demonstrate our appreciation for our clients’ business? What do I have to say that will be of real benefit to clients?

2. Communicate core values The PowerNewsletter reflects your professional principles and your commitment to client service. It also reflects your personal style — your particular way of expressing yourself and interacting with clients. This builds your brand and reinforces your distinction from the competition. Sticking to core values means that your PowerNewsletter will resonate only with people who have the same values. Questions to ask yourself: Does my newsletter read like I speak? Can clients identify the newsletter with my practice? Are there contradictions (in content, in tone, in appearance) between my newsletter and the message I’m giving in other marketing communications?

3. Reveals your unique qualities The PowerNewsletter tells readers how you stand out from the crowd. It highlights your unique qualities, the way you do business, and the processes and systems you’ve put in place to enhance your value-added service to clients. Questions to ask yourself: Does my newsletter fairly reflect the experience of working with me? Does it reveal my unique business process? Can clients understand how I’m different after reading the newsletter?

4. Develops a loyal client community The PowerNewsletter communicates integrity and honesty. It encourages clients to feel that working with you is like belonging to an extended community or an exclusive club. Questions to ask yourself: Does the content and the design of my newsletter suggest a warm, friendly feel? Does the newsletter make clients feel welcome and "special" for doing business with me?

5. Communicates improvement Being a leader means setting new standards for communications and service. The PowerNewsletter lets clients know that innovation and improvement are hallmarks of your business. Questions to ask yourself: Does my newsletter reveal my commitment to continual improvement? Does my newsletter show clients how I’ve raised service and communication standards in my practice?

6. Demonstrates personality Clients want to work with a real person — someone they identify with on a personal as well as a professional level. The PowerNewsletter avoids the impersonal tone of corporate communications and instead demonstrates your individual personality. Questions to ask yourself: Does the writing sound like I am actually speaking? Does my newsletter reveal the most significant developments in my family/personal life or my community contributions?

7. Demonstrates leadership Your clients look to you for leadership on important financial topics. The PowerNewsletter lets clients know where you stand on important investment and wealth management issues. The PowerNewsletter shows you’re not afraid of giving clients clear, frank advice that will benefit them. Questions to ask yourself: Does my newsletter clarify the financial dangers and financial opportunities facing my clients? Does my newsletter simply impart information, or does it offer a strong opinion and shows clients how to make appropriate decisions?

8. Communicates a consistent brand The PowerNewsletter fits with other marketing communications. It strengthens your existing brand by delivering a consistent brand message. Questions to ask yourself: Does my newsletter fit with other marketing communications? Is there continuity in the tone, style, and message between my newsletter and my other communications?

9. Filters and channels information The PowerNewsletter is not a one-time marketing piece. While it may discuss current events, most of its content is timeless. It filters important information from other media, and shows clients how to keep focused on what’s important and ignore hype and buzz. The PowerNewsletter channels only the information you want clients to read. Questions to ask yourself: Will clients still find my newsletter valuable in 90 days, in a year, or more? What percentage of content is primarily concerned with short-term events? Am I delivering content that I want my clients to read?

10. Raises the benchmark Your clients want to work with a highly skilled professional. The PowerNewsletter reinforces your capability as an advisor by demonstrating not just financial knowledge, but mastery over a wide range of complex wealth-management issues. Questions to ask yourself: Does my newsletter clarify important financial issues and demonstrate my mastery of them? Does the newsletter explain the qualifications and experience of both me and my team? Is my newsletter better than the newsletters of my peers?

You’ll notice that the most important feature of PowerNewsletter isn’t necessarily the content. Rather, it’s how that content is delivered. A PowerNewsletter can include commentary on current market events, or timeless articles that explain your investment principles. It can include charts, graphs, and other financial data. Or it can include personal or non-financial content that touches on your client interests. It’s really up to you. Whatever you include, however, your content choices need to be strategic and thoughtful. They should further your long-term marketing goals.

Treat the newsletter with the respect it deserves and it will strengthen your practice. You’ll find there’s no more effective way to communicate your core values on a personal level. That’s something worth re-thinking.

Jeff Thorsteinson is the creator of the YouFoundation, an organization that helps investment advisors advisors build world-class practices through innovative concepts, tools, and systems since 1993. With over 3,000 investment advisor marketing projects and business cases behind him, Jeff has become a well respected speaker in the industry and over the last 3 years, delivered his practice-building programs to thousands of financial advisors throughout Canada. Contact or 1 800-223-9332, ext. 1, for more information about YouFoundation, or visit the website at

The PowerNewsletter™ is a trademark of The Newsletter Factory Inc.

Jeff Thorsteinson