5 tips for coming up with great story ideas for your email newsletter or blog.

Twitter, Facebook and email marketing make it easier to reach potential and current customers, but many marketers are left speechless. What can you say, month in, month out, that will be of any interest to your audience?

People always like to hear about discounts, sales, offers and free gifts, but these have a cost to a business and can devalue a brand if offered all the time. However, you can also give the gift of information.

Business owners often undervalue their own knowledge, but the information you share represents your time spent getting professional qualifications, your time gaining experience and the time you spend keeping up to date with industry news. Time. Something that nobody has enough of!

Your time and knowledge are gifts that you can give with less impact on your bottom line. At the same time, by making a point of being the distiller of information for your audience, you will also keep yourself current or even ahead of the curve in your own industry. A thought leader even!

Your time and knowledge are gifts that you can give with less impact on your bottom line.

So let’s talk about knowledge.

1. Talk knowledgeably about things your customers care about

When putting together a marketing plan, one of the first things to do is create ‘ideal customer’ avatars. You may already have one or more ideal customers who you can picture when writing but if not, you can create your avatars using research and best guesswork. List their fears, motivations, hopes, interests and demographics.  You’ll give them a name, and sometimes even stick a picture to the profile to make them more real. With your ideal customer avatars in mind, it is easier to know what they might care about, and therefore what you will talk to them about.

You may sell pushchairs, but your customers are parents so you can be sure parenting issues will be of interest.

The ideal customer avatarQuick avatar class – identifying your ideal customer

  • Research your own sales communications or chat with our sales and customer service staff. What questions do people keep asking? What misconceptions do they have? What’s the biggest objection they have? Why do you lose sales?
  • Interact with your customers to find out what they care about using social media, email newsletters or comments on your blog. Ask them their opinion. You can use polls, surveys such as Survey Monkey or simply ask. Information you gain here will give you ideas or data for stories. For example: “9 out of 10 of our customers say that they struggle to know what to say in their marketing communications…”
  • Read competitor reviews on one or more of the many industry review sites. In this way you will very quickly get an idea of what your customers care about.
  • Check your own analytics to see what your prospects are interested in on your own site, what people click on in newsletters and on social media platforms.

2. Talk knowledgeably about your own business

In the old days newsletters would typically bore the audience to death with pictures of the Managing Director giving out prizes at the company dinner. No one is interested! However, the people you do want to attract are people who are interested in your services or product, so don’t be shy to answer their questions:

  • FAQ – what questions do you most commonly get asked? Turn this information into either a short story, or simply highlight it as ‘FAQ of the month’.
  • What is it like to enjoy your service or product? Interview one of your customers. Ask them what they like best and write a short case study, with your customer’s permission.
  • More information please. Sharing an entire company brochure can be overwhelming, but break it down. Highlight a product of the month, or week. Describe it in detail with customer testimonials or comments if possible. Don’t forget to link to ‘more information’ or provide a call to action.

    …the people you do want to attract are people who are interested in your services or product, so talk about how you solve their problems

3. Talk knowledgeably about your industry

Your ideal customer expects you to be an expert in your field, and be up to date with the latest trends in your industry. It’ll make things easier for them if they can turn to you for an easy-to-understand breakdown of the hot issues in your industry. Make yourself their go-to expert.

  • Register to receive industry newsletters from bloggers and your suppliers (or even your competitors), join discussion groups on LinkedIn, find forums and read or listen to audiobooks or podcasts, follow experts on Twitter and LinkedIn. Summarise key points, share links or even give your contrasting opinion. Your prospects will appreciate it.
  • Attend industry events, seminars and exhibitions and summarise key points that would be of interest to your audience.
  • Keep an eye on local news and feel free to comment on it.
  • Ask an industry expert to share their knowledge with your customers. The expert will appreciate the exposure, and your audience will appreciate a change of face.

4. Mix your media

Keep it interesting by using different styles and media to share the information.

  • People love numbers. Break up one of your stories into a ‘5 tips…’ kind of story.
  • Create an infographic. Easily done with
  • Make a GIF. Easily done at EZGifmaker.
  • Use video. While it is easier than ever to make a short video yourself using your smart phone, using an app or video service (eg explainer videos), you can also share an interesting video from another source. WordPress blogs make embedding videos particularly easy – just copy and paste the URL. See the video below!

5. Don’t forget to package the gifts

People still like discounts, sales, offers and free gifts. This is usually the tipping point that will give you the prospect’s permission to add them on your mailing list. But don’t forget that information can be packaged as a gift.

  • A white paper bulging with data and tips for a BtB lead
  • An attractive tips/data sheet/calendar that can be pinned on a fridge for a consumer lead, or to the office wall for a BtB lead
  • An educational video or webinar

and remember the call to action.

Follow these tips and you will very soon find that you have more than enough information to give you great story ideas for your email newsletters, blog posts, Tweets and Facebook updates.