Last month we met with the president and vice president of a regional contracting company to develop customer case studies that will be featured in a website relaunch. We got more than we bargained for.

Following a one-hour meeting, we not only collected details to build a narrative for three case studies, as expected. We also identified topics for nine customer-focused email newsletters and added them on to the original set of deliverables.

Bonus content, at no added cost.

There is no shortage of marketing work to be done in the renewable energy industry. As consultants, it’s our job to leave no stone unturned in the search for good stories to tell.

Here are three ways that you can generate original ideas for your email newsletters.

The key word there is original. To get attention, you have to do things a little differently. Raise the bar. Push the envelope. Most importantly, be yourself.

Cultivate partnerships, not projects

David Baker, author of The Business of Expertise, offers a good analogy on the need for an outside perspective to help tell your story.

Developing a brand narrative is like putting yourself in a jar, Baker says. The jar has a label that identifies you. But you can’t see it. You’re inside the jar. You need someone else, someone objective who understands storytelling, to find out what’s on the label.

Once you have a handle on your brand narrative, it becomes a whole lot easier to present your ideas in a variety of ways. Through email and social media. On your website and in live conversation.

Instead of developing newsletter content as a stand-alone project, find a storytelling partner you trust and invite them to create content for all your most important communication channels.

    Unleash your curiosity

    An open-ended conversation with a brand storyteller is always time well spent. It’s worth a line item in the marketing budget, even if the conversation isn’t directly tied to a set of deliverables.

    Here’s why. A seasoned storyteller who understands your business will ask question after question about your customers’ perspectives. They will also ask about the solutions you are bringing to market and the results you have achieved.

    That was our approach to last month’s meeting where we set out to develop customer case studies and wound up with almost a year’s worth of newsletter content ideas as well.

    The newsletter ideas we came up with all reinforce themes from a creative brief that we had developed in advance.

    Stick to a single theme

    If you’re not sending an email newsletter at least once a month, it’s probably for one of two reasons.

    1. Your business has yet to realize the value of consistent email marketing.
    2. It seems like too much work to plan, develop, and distribute an email newsletter.

    Here’s one powerful way to simplify email newsletter production. Select one topic that’s relevant to you and your email subscribers. And make it the theme of the newsletter.

    When companies ask us for help launching or relaunching an email newsletter, we start by developing a list of newsletter themes based on talks with company leaders. We also identify employees, business partners, or customers who can contribute to a conversation on each of the selected topics.

    Then we develop three newsletter sections: an introduction of the topic and why it’s important, a featured guest interview, and a collection of resources where you can go for more information.

    Once you get into a rhythm with newsletter production, it’s easy to see why email continues to be a cost-effective channel for businesses and customers.

    Get rolling with your email newsletter

    Are you thinking about launching or relaunching your company newsletter? Talk to TerraCurrent and request a newsletter planning template or a 30-minute email marketing consultation.