Publish a Better Newsletter: You Could Learn a Lot From “Barry’s Blog”

Apr 1, 2015 | Distribution

Barry Schwartz gets it. The Chicago-based mortgage broker knows that he needs to make his weekly e-newsletter stand out in crowded inboxes. By adding 1980s-theme pop culture trivia and steady doses of self-deprecating humor, Barry’s newsletter, “Hey! Mortgage Fans!,” has become must-read content and a valuable marketing tool.

When he first started sending out his newsletter, Barry played it straight and just included information about interest rates, closing costs, and other nuts-and-bolts info about mortgages. It was a one-way ticket to snoozeville and one that not very many people read, he admits.

“Mortgages are boring,” Barry said. “So I thought to myself, ‘What can I do to get people to read this?’” Barry decided that the easiest way to his clients’ hearts was through their funny bones.

Make ’em Laugh … and Read Your Newsletter

Each newsletter includes thought-provoking quotes (from comedian Steven Wright: “I intend to live forever; so far, so good.”) and glimpses into Barry’s hilariously insightful inner dialogue. In a recent post, about his belief system, Barry wrote: “I cheated my way through high school Spanish. Now, I believe that it’s not a coincidence that the voices in my head speak Spanish and I can’t understand a word they are trying to tell me.” and “I believe that ‘I before E except after C’ was invented by a really powerful person who was bad at spelling.”

The newsletter, which goes out to about 2,300 recipients each week, still contains all the valuable information about interest rates and underwriting trends, but it is the humor that gives people a reason to read it week after week. Most importantly, the newsletter has led to a lot of referrals as Barry has built his reputation as Chicago’s most entertaining mortgage broker.

Barry realizes that his comedic stylings might rub some potential clients the wrong way, but he is OK with that. “Not everyone is going to be in our target audience (mostly 20-, 30-, and 40-somethings),” Barry said. “But I don’t worry about it because I know it will help me more than it hurts me.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Interesting

Barry’s newsletter is a great example of something that I try to impress on all of my clients: Your goal isn’t to publish a newsletter that provides valuable information. Your goal is to publish a newsletter that provides valuable information in a format that people actually want to read. So it is important to include “hooks”–such as Barry’s humor and trivia questions–to draw people in.

You don’t have to be a comedic genius to make this work. In fact, the comedic approach wouldn’t be appropriate for a lot of industries or companies. But there are other ways you can spice up your newsletter.

Here is a short list of some of the ways companies have made their newsletters more interesting:

  • Recipes – in each issue a different employee from the company shares a favorite recipe
  • Puzzles – Sudoku and financial-themed crosswords or word jumbles are always crowd-pleasers
  • Photos – including pictures from the company Christmas party or letting a client or employee share pictures from a recent vacation will always boost readership
  • Client profiles – find clients who have interesting personal or professional stories to tell

Most importantly, you need to make your newsletter something that clients want to read. Don’t be afraid to let your personality show through in your newsletter. Your readers will appreciate it.

Want to create a better newsletter? Check out our e-Book for five essentials you need to create your own newsletter.

5 Things You Need To Create Your Newsletter

About the Author Scott -About AuthorScott Wentworth is the CEO at Wentworth Financial Communications. He collaborates with a team of writers and editors at Wentworth to help professionals across the financial services industry build their brands by creating investment-grade white papers, bylined articles, newsletters, blogs, social media posts, and other forms of content marketing.

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