One of the best ways that you can keep your customers informed about what's going on with your MSP or IT support provider is by sending out a newsletter.
These can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. Back in the dark days of the Internet (around 1999), I would simply write up anything interesting that was going on with my company and stick it into a text email.
Now that we're in Web 2.0 you can take advantage of the many tools out there on the web to create full HTML newsletters packed with pictures and other interactive elements to keep your audience engaged. Or if you're looking to create a print newsletter, download a template that allows you to simply substitute your text and pictures to produce a professional looking piece of marketing material.
Here's just a quick rundown of some templates we found out there on the web. Some of these templates are free while others you will have to pay for.
Microsoft has a number of free templates available online for both MS Word and Publisher. These are all provided free of charge. There are a few technology specific templates that have good face impact but ultimately the style you choose will have to be your own.
This site offers a number of different email newsletter templates as well as a tool to create your own templates. You need to register to use the full set of features that the site offers. They make their money by sending out the templates that you create so if you're also in need of a provider to send out your email newsletter then Campaign Monitor can do it for you. Pricing is flexible and starts at $15 for an email blast for up to 500 subscribers.
Ten free email templates are here for your perusal and download. This is the webpage of a graphic designer so if you don't see anything you like you could always drop the owner a line and see how much it would cost to have a custom template designed to fit your needs.
Mail Chimp is another email marketing service that also offers a number of free email marketing and newsletter templates that you can download even if you don't use their mailing service. They've also got a handy online guide that will help step you through the process of creating HTML email newsletters.
These templates are geared towards print. Newsletter templates can be downloaded in both Microsoft Word and Adobe Illustrator as well as other formats. You have to pay for these templates with prices starting at around $90 for a single template and up to $300 for a group of ten or so.
Inkd is a subscription-based website that offers a number of different templates for newsletters, postcards, business cards and many other marketing needs. You can buy subscriptions in one month, three month or yearly periods. Some templates are free with a subscription while for others you'll need to pay a fee. You can also purchase templates singly without a subscription.
Prices per template start at around $60. The designs are bright and modern, so Inkd is worth a look if your're a bit "graphically challenged" and need a little help in creating your newsletter template.
The main thing to remember when creating newsletters is to keep it current - or even offer your customers a peek into the future. Use your newsletter to promote upcoming events or special offers that your company might have in the pipeline. Use a light and breezy tone to trumpet your achievements - without becoming overbearing .
Once you've got your first newlsletter down you'll find it becomes easier and easier to write the next one. Just keep plugging away.
After all, that Pulitzer isn't going to just jump onto your trophy shelf on its own.