Archive for January, 2011

A Newsletter, or a Strip Mall?

January 31st, 2011

Some email newsletters drive me crazy. I feel as though I were driving through a strip mall with jumbles of color and words and objects, and signs at all different heights and sizes. You may be familiar with the ones I’m referring to—they cover the latest developments in health care, from pharmaceutical regulations to sales of major hospitals to healthcare reform. They come every few days, jam packed with links, headlines, a mix of news and sales, and a ton of advertising.

I’m not criticizing—these newsletters are chock full of information. But I find it difficult, though not impossible, to pull them out of my inbox and pay attention.

Do you think that, since the subscriptions are free, people just scan in a glazed kind of way and move on? Does a busy, info-packed email newsletter work for you, or your clients?

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Healthcare marketing: newsletters

January 22nd, 2011

Is it a bird or a plane? a magazine or a newsletter?

Just received a gorgeous magazine called Proto. Full color, fabulous photography, coated stock, full-page advertisements. Its subtitle is “Dispatches from the Frontiers of Medicine” and it’s “a quarterly biomedical magazine” that is “exploring breakthroughs, dissecting controversies, opening a forum for informed debate.” Letters to the editor are included, although at the website there doesn’t yet appear to be the chance to comment on the letters.

The masthead lists not only Massachusetts General Hospital but also TimeInc., Partners HealthCare (of which, of course, MGH is a part), and eight different advertising contacts, including one for “luxury and lifestyle.”

Content appears to cover the full range of medicine-related topics, from Thomas Hunt Morgan and his fruit flies through the impulsive behavior of teenagers to the value of medical care at the local drugstore.

While it’s got a big, glamorous presence, I suppose it could be called a newsletter, though it’s not clear to me what readers have in common—seems more like a magazine with a variety of interesting topics.

What kind of health marketing results do they expect? It certainly is designed to keep some group of people informed. Calls to mind heads of major foundations, private individuals considering philanthropy, deans of large medical schools, and chief officers of federal health institutes.

Too bad all newsletters can’t be as handsome. Have you seen it?

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Good example of a newsletter as a marketing tool

January 17th, 2011

Looking at Special Places (Winter 2010) newsletters from the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations. Even though it’s winter, the newsletter also has shots of green spaces and sunshine, a good mix with people enjoying the snow, and of inside shots of Trustees activity, libraries, house interiors. The close is a magnificent two-page shot of World’s End at Hingham, as the sun sets. Makes sense that they would only publish seasonally, given the cost, but what an eloquent case for membership and support! Comments?

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Fonts and graphics: guidelines for newsletter marketing

January 10th, 2011

First, let me say that you must use moderation with fonts: use the same font, in a plain style, for all your e-newsletter copy, and use a matching, or similar, font in your headlines. On the other hand, so-called fun fonts, while hard to read, can be a very good way to spice up your e-newsletter. The best way to use them is by handling them like graphics rather than letters. In other words, use them in small amounts, and as part of a photograph or drawing. For example, if you have a photo of two dedicated volunteers you are honoring, use a fun font above the photo with a couple of words like “Souls of Generosity.” Be sure that the identifying caption, however, is in a simple, readable font.


Photographs make a big difference in the effectiveness of e-newsletters—and not just any photos, either. The general rule is to include photos of people in action, whether it’s plying a shovel at a ground-breaking ceremony or eating a slice of pizza, or dancing. Sober portraits may be appropriate if you have just hired an important new executive, but you might want to try a second image as well, of the same person at a desk, or meeting fellow employees. By all means avoid shots of people taken from behind! (This does actually occur, I’m sorry to say.)

Other graphics, such as drawings, doodles and patterns can also be valuable. If you are on your own and without a designer, you might like to try downloading clip art from Word, or searching for free images on the internet.

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“Pre-written” articles for newsletters: tips for not using

January 4th, 2011

A vendor who offers you content to fill in a large blank space isn’t really doing you any favors. By the time you’ve reworked the materials to match your style and your tone, you’ve probably tripled the cost. And if you don’t rework the materials, they will have much the same effect as life-sized cardboard cutouts–amusing, but not real. If you really must use dollar-a-pound content, treat it like an illustration–give it a frame, make it clear it’s not meant to sound exactly like you.

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