Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Have You Been Fooled By Newsletter Publishers?

Print newsletters are e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e! And publishers know that you really don't want to spend all of the money, so what was their solution to get you to bite? Well, back in the 1980's when work-life newsletters became popular, most came up with the idea to print and sell you a quarterly 4-page newsletter. They could print less frequently, charge a lot of money, and if because you didn't have much of a choice, play to your sense of laziness and only put you to work distributing a quarterly publication. Great. Then somehow, all of that became the "standard". Everybody had a 4-page newsletter--like there was only four months in the entire year instead of twelve.

You then began to thing that this was the way newsletters were supposed to be--quarterly, in print, and priced high. WRONG!

You forgot about your employees.

You see, they deserve better than you only showing up 4 times a year offering them useful and vital work-life information they are desperate for having as soon as they can get it. With a quarterly newsletter, trust me, you are an afterthought. Distributing a quarterly newsletter is almost like an apology for bothering people. Have you been intimidated by top management telling you that "employees already have too much to read"? Well, you the one who should be distributing a newsletter more frequently, and the organization should be distributing its stuff less!

And get this, 4-page newsletters--hold on to your 3-holed punched binder--don't get read by employees. They scan them, read the headlines, and toss them. Usually 4-5 five articles is all they contain, but most are too long-winded. Employees are too much on the go to spend much time with them. They want short, action-oriented, punchy, useful articles--not a book.

So what the alternative.

The answer is the 2-page, short and concise, actionable article format, and distributed monthly by PDF/e-mail.

Why is this way the most effective way to go. Number 1 is selfish but critical: It gives you top of mind visibility. No matter what you're doing, your marketing if your in business. In fact, marketing is more important than what you market. Without marketing, you're gone. No one gets what you have to offer. The facts from directing experts are this: Every month that you do not "touch" your customers (employees in this case) 10% forget that you even exist. Can you affort that? No.

4-page newsletters are less of a burdon on you but they are threat to your business because they do not provide the top-of-mind visibility you need to stay in business. Also, do you realize with all that content (most of which is not read) employees frequently "self-diagnose" personal problems and medical conditions, and then self-treat? If the articles in your newsletter are too comprehensive, they create risk because they offer too much information and little or no call to action. The call to action is calling the employee assistance program if the company has one or contacting a mental health center or other resource to address the problem discussed in the article.

For example, it is far better for an article to quickly energize and educate about gambling addiction and provide only a few scarey symptoms of the illness, and then a call to action. If the article is long-winded, and gives all 20 questions of a Gambler's Anonymous quiz, then the employee will seek no more information on the subject. That's it. Risk continues. The employee will self-treat, which usually means half-measures, the wrong treatment, or another commitment to willpower. Are you starting to the point of how powerful a work-life or work life newsletter can be.

Your employee newsletter articles MUST LEAVE EMPLOYEES wanting more. And a helping resource is where that information needs to come from. These articles will feed your employee assistance program. And whether you are an EAP reading this, or a business owner, that is precisely what you want in order to make such a risk reduction investment worth every penny.

Go for two-page newsletters and begin today. Stop apologizing and feeling like other programs in the work organization are more important than you, or that employees "already have too much to read" (Geez, I hate that phrase). Be assertive with your work-life-productivity newsletter program. Employees deserve nothing less than to get 50% more content per year, and more likely to be read content as well. Only a two page monthly newsletter will do that.

Dan Feerst is publisher of WorkLife Excel and FrontLine Employee Editable work-life-productivity newsletters. You can reach him at http://www.eaptools.com/

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