Perhaps Mark Twain said it best when he concluded that, “The dullest pencil is better than the sharpest memory.” In theory, the written word far outlives what a mind is capable of recalling. As an innkeeper, you likely have an innumerable list of must-dos and gotta-remembers. Similarly, past patrons of your inn are in the same boat. With careers, family priorities, dentist appointments, and oil changes constantly piling atop one another, even the most sensible and sagacious individual can’t remember everything he is expected to.
What Mr. Twain is really alluding to is the fact of the matter that we really oughtn’t trust ourselves to rely solely on our own brain power to commit to memory all of these tasks, obligations, and dates. This rings as true for you as a bed and breakfast owner as for your clients. This is where you take matters into your own hands. In order to improve your marketing and branding strategies with past guests, create a newsletter.
A newsletter is a terrific tool in generating further publicity for your bed and breakfast without being overtly invasive and meddlesome. Rather, it acts as a thoughtful addition to the hospitality and generosity guests experienced during their stay at your property. A newsletter allows you to not only maintain communication with past guests but promote your business, as well.
The trick is ensuring that your newsletter is noteworthy. There’s really no point in generating a newsletter so poorly produced that nobody ends up reading it. But with some creativity, basic writing skills, and fundamental computer design proficiency, you can construct a newsletter that people will genuinely look forward to receiving in their inboxes or mail boxes.
A newsletter’s primary responsibility is to inform. Keep in mind that informative doesn’t mean repetitive, dull, or long-winded. In fact, it should be as engaging, insightful, and succinct as possible. Include material relevant to the topic of your newsletter. This is not a textbook. Don’t overwhelm yourself by feeling pressured into writing a college dissertation. Likewise, don’t overwhelm your readers by inserting lengthy, rambling articles.
Ideas for articles could include highlighting an area attraction, recipes for specialties served at the inn, a feature with tips on proper relaxation techniques, etc. Additionally, write about your inn. Inform guests of improvements to the bed and breakfast: redecorated bedrooms, new amenities, or that state-of-the-art kitchen that was just refurbished. Include “before and after” photos. Report on events in the area or at your inn that have recently taken place. Likewise, write a story on upcoming happenings.
Also, feel free to introduce readers to current specials you have running, as well as discount packages you might be offering for honeymooners, business travelers, or families.
Divide and Conquer:
Ensure that your newsletter is easy to follow by utilizing columns, headlines, and other divisions to separate articles, features, and editorials. Allow for plenty of white space in the newsletter. A common misconception is that the more content exists on a single page, the better. Check out the below illustrations. It’s quite clear that your eyes would much prefer to read through the second example.
Search Microsoft Word to find one of dozens of newsletter templates that will help simplify this process for you.
Illustrations and Design:
Charts, graphs, illustrations, and photos are essential in creating a successful newsletter. People are drawn to images before text, so if you include a particularly eye-catching photo to complement an article, chances are much higher that the article will be read.
The design of the newsletter should never be flashy. Keep it simple, but not boring. It’s okay to have fun and make things a bit quirky, but stick to a theme (colors, fonts, layout, etc.). As a rule of thumb, stick to using no more than two or three fonts in the newsletter and be consistent with them. For instance, using a different font for each headline will ultimately just give the newsletter an overall cluttered, spastic appearance. Decorative, curlicue fonts might work for a heading but basic, easily legible fonts should be used for body text throughout the document.
An interactive newsletter is definitely preferred to one that doesn’t engage its readers. Try inserting a quiz, crossword puzzle, or Sudoku puzzle. Perhaps you might want to include a riddle. The first reader to respond with the correct answer to your riddle might win some sort of prize. There’s really no limit to what you can do in connecting with readers. Use your imagination and get creative!
Once you have the document ready to go, what’s next? Before you send it out, give it a final, thorough look-through. Check for typos, grammatical errors, syntax mistakes, low-quality photos, and awkward design layout. After you’ve proof-read it, pass it on to somebody else. Oftentimes others will notice mistakes you tend to overlook yourself. Rectify anything that doesn’t seem spot on. Once you have the final version ready to go, you can choose to either send out a hard copy of the newsletter or an e-copy. The choice is entirely yours, but the hassle and cost of sending e-copies is considerably less and will still be read by the same people.