By Kelly Norris
Newsletters are an excellent way to engage in permission-based contact with customers, clients and information-seekers who will profit from what you offer. When members sign up for your newsletter, it demonstrates an interest in your updated business information, news about a particular topic of cause, or an upcoming sales event. Whether you’re writing a print newsletter or one for the Web, make sure the information you provide is of actual benefit to your subscribers and not simply a thinly-veiled ad for your business. Notifying customers of new products and reduced prices may be all your members want or expect, but if it’s information they’re seeking, make sure your newsletter is fat with facts and lean on marketing. Disguising a hard sell as an informational piece will turn people off in a hurry.
For example, the following is a newsletter I wrote for a Toronto doctor who has developed a device designed to relieve pain. One of his largest customer groups is comprised of people suffering from a disease known as Fibromyalgia. His newsletters, therefore, were researched and written to incorporate news and tips on the disease. At the same time, I provided a link to his device, should members want more information on how it might help alleviate their symptoms. Thus his monthly newsletter serves as both a source of information for pain sufferers, as well as a gentle sales incentive to aid the doctor in pitching his product.
News and Comments on Fibromyalgia Syndrome
Fibromyalgia is an often debilitating condition of chronic muscular pain and fatigue suffered by an estimated 2-4% of North Americans. While most are women between 29 to 50 years of age, Fibromyalgia can happen to anyone of any age and often runs in families (similar to chronic fatigue syndrome and migraine headache).
If you (or someone you love) suffer from FM, it is important to incorporate good lifestyle habits to ensure yourself the highest level of enjoyment of life and the minimum level of pain. Successful treatment of your FM symptoms involves treating yourself with kindness and respect, both emotional and physical. Adopting and adhering to positive lifestyle habits will not only help ease the painful effects of FM, but also promote overall health. These are habits that could benefit anyone of any age and in any state of wellness. Best of all, some of these habits, when used as part of your everyday routine, may help prevent or reduce pain, disease and depression.
In fact, you may find yourself recommending these tips to others in your life to help them through their own illnesses, stressors and rough patches.
Take Care of Your Body
One product of FM is that it doesn’t allow you to neglect or mistreat your body without suffering consequences—if you overdo an activity or avoid regular exercise, you often pay dearly for it. If you want to put a positive spin on it, however, you can remember that all people need to take care of their bodies—all people need adequate rest, healthy food and regular exercise in order to increase their chances of long, healthy lives. For most people, the mistreatment they may deal their bodies remains hidden until something dramatic happens, like a heart attack or a stroke. Your FM, as distressing as it is, is not a life-threatening condition like those; rather, it can be looked at as a watchdog of sorts—one that barks loudly if you abuse your health.
Remember to make the following rules a part of your daily life, like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast. They are commitments that will help relieve your symptoms and maintain your overall health and well-being:
- Exercise daily—push yourself enough to stimulate your heart rate and warm your muscles, but not so much that you feel overtired or sore the next day.
- Promote circulation to aching or tired muscles with electrotherapy stimulation.
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Limit consumption before bedtime, however, to avoid being awakened by a full bladder.
- Get plenty of rest. Even if you have insomnia (as most FM patients do), make sure you relax and adopt habits to quiet your mind, such as meditation or a soothing bath.
- Do gentle stretching every day to keep muscles loose and out of their contracted state. And remember that stretching works best when muscles are warm, such as after a bath or exercise. Never stretch beyond your limits—remember resistance, not pain.
Take Care of Your Psyche
Unfortunately for most people, physical pain brings with it a certain amount of emotional pain as well—you may find yourself angry with your body, with yourself and with those around you who don’t understand your illness or who seem insensitive to it. You may also find yourself resenting their ability to wake up without terrible stiffness or go through their lives seemingly without pain. It is very important to your therapy and your well-being to remember some key things about your condition, such as:
- It is not your fault that you have FM. Sometimes unfortunate things happen to good people and no one knows why. But the condition is only a single quality and does not diminish you in any way.
- It is your right to ask those around you for help. Try to limit feeling guilty if you need a friend or family member, or even a hired hand, to do housework, yard work or other tasks on those days when your pain is bad. You would certainly do it for your loved ones if the situation were reversed.
- Limit your exposure to stress. The world is in crisis much of the time and it is hard to turn on the news these days without feeling utterly helpless. So don’t. If you’re having a bad day, forget the news and rent a movie or play cards with friends. Don’t accept the call from that person who often causes you stress—that’s what answering machines are for.
- Try not to linger on feelings of anger or resentment. No one is entirely without pain or stress; no one skates through life without feeling at some point that circumstances are unfair. FM may insist that you deal with more pain that some, but remember that its symptoms are treatable and not dangerous—and they do not define who you are.
- Fit pleasure into your routine. Make a commitment to schedule regular events that you enjoy so that you never feel limited by your condition. Meet often with positive friends and family members, go to the movies, travel, throw huge parties, whatever makes you happy. Just do them often and make them a priority.
- Talk with others about your feelings. There is a difference between complaining and talking: the former can often make you feel worse, the latter will often make you feel better and be less likely to annoy those around you. Turn to those you trust when you feel overwhelmed or frustrated and allow them to take some of the burden off your shoulders. Just be respectful of each person’s individual limitations and he or she will remain supportive.
As you can see, the ratio of information compared to the sales pitch element is heavily slanted toward the former, which is what a good educational piece should do, hence the name “newsletter.” If your newsletter is composed merely around notifying people of sales events or new products, it may be more accurately described as a Sales Notice or Product Release than a newsletter. Whatever you call it, make sure you supply what your members sign up for and don’t abuse their trust by straying from what you promised or by offering their email addresses to third parties. That, my friends, is just bad business.