After publishing last week’s article about having at least 2 eNewsletter/iZine groups (one for internal constituents and one for external constituents) with an optimum of 4 eNewsletter/iZine groups (to correspond with four of the elements of the ARMED framework), I received several emails from individuals saying they have MORE than four groups of individuals – and do each of those groups really need their own, personalized, individually targeted eNewsletter/iZine?’

The short answer is, “Yes!”

Newsletters used to be time-consuming.  They were publications that had to be created by advertising agencies, proofed, proofed, and proofed again by experienced proofreaders, taken to paste-up and layout departments, printed with correct ink colors and no bleeds into the margins or other color areas.

It’s a whole new world today.

In the recent past, programs like Microsoft Publisher made it possible to create professional-looking presentations which could be printed on your home printer.  Then you could simply mail them to your constituents.  Could you do two newsletters a month?  Sure – but that’s still a lot of mailings, eating up lots of postage, paper and printing.

Today’s online software makes it possible to make professional-looking publications and have them delivered via the Internet.  It’s also possible to use a publication as a template, and not just a template for the design.  Create the publication, then “clone” it, change out a couple of stories, and in a few minutes, you have an new publication directed toward a different constituent group.

About 25 or so years ago, magazine publishers started creating regionalized publications.  Most of the stories were the same, but the advertising was regionalized so that not only national advertisers could place ads, but more regionalized retailers could also advertise, creating more exposure for their products and services, as well as more revenues for the magazine.  After all, a business could place an ad in one publication, or reach the entire coverage area with 5 or so ads inserted into the regional editions.  This is another reason you may want to change the name of your eNewsletter to an iZine.

Today, you can customize online publications in the same manner, so it came as no surprise when I received emails that said 4 groups are not enough.

You have to remember three things, though:

1) It will take time;

2) There is a specific style of writing for the Internet;

3) Your school needs an excellent and easily editable Web site that these article previews can connect to.

First, all things worthwhile take time.  Make the time to do it right.  “Quick and dirty” doesn’t work anymore – your audiences are WAY too savvy for that.  If you jump ahead to #3 and say, “We just don’t have time to update a Web site,” that type of thinking needs to change too.

Second, paragraphs are no longer than three sentences or lines.  If you have more than that, consider using bullet points.  If Internet readers see a lot of text, they won’t read it.  White space, periods and breaks catch the reader’s eye.

Third, your school’s Web site is the repository for all information.  Marketing Matters articles are posted to the Web site, but there are only a few lines of an article in the iZine with a link to the full article.  Research shows that today’s leaders need a lot of information.  They like to review top-line data first; then, if the topic is of interest, the opportunity exists to find out more.  Such readership is trackable, as well, to see which articles are of significant interest to specific groups of readers.

Next week, I’ll provide a few more tips for writing for the Internet – but back to the 7 Essential iZine Groups – they are:

+ Board Members – They must be apprised of all communications as a courtesy.  Do they need a copy of all 6 other iZines?  No…but you might want to create a compendium of every article sent to the other groups just so they’re not blindsided if someone asks them about what you’ve sent to a particular group.

The next four groups correspond to the DREAM elements:

+ Alumni (Development)

+ Businesses & Members of the Community (Marketing)

+ Parents of Prospective Students (Enrollment)

+ Parents of Current Students (Retention)

The others are:

+ Friends – Those that don’t fit into any of the above groups.

+ Donors – This may be a group created from the aforementioned 6 groups.  Since the goal of Development is building relationships, you’ll want to communicate with Donors in a particularly significant way than you do with potential donors since they’ve taken the step beyond volunteering their time and talent.

+ Unsubscribed – Never delete someone from your list…they may want to come back.  Think of this group as the “Recycle Bin” on your computer that you never empty.  Send them a personalized greeting from time to time, saying “We Miss You,” or “Are you sure you want to remain on our ‘Unsubscribed’ list.  Of course, if they request “Do Not Contact,” then don’t contact them…but don’t delete them, either.  You might want to send them a card…since NOBODY does that anymore, and it makes your outreach “remarkable!”

And, there is an 8th group that no one mentioned…so I’ll mention it:

What about “Deceased?”  Is it a category, and should these individuals be deleted?  You may want to create this category to track internal relationships.  Family members may want to memorialize their loved one through a bequest to your school because they knew it was an important part of their loved one’s life.

So how do you keep all these groups organized?  More about that next week!

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2010-2020 (Original Publication Date: 20101129)