Print, online, or ezine – newsletters are a powerful marketing tool.

Maybe you’ve considered the possibility of creating a regular newsletter to send out to your customers, but you’re daunted by the commitment. You could hire a professional to do the job for you, or if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, use these tips to get started.

1. Keep it short. In print, two, four, or eight pages, max. Give a lot of information, but give it in short articles (300 words or less). Keep the sentences fairly short, but vary the length for interest.

2. Keep your writing style in sync with the character of your customer base. Are they executive types, mothers-to-be, or engineers? Write to them.

3. Create reader interest. Don’t blatantly self-promote. Give them “how-to” information and valuable advice. Provide solid news related to your business. Offer interesting snippets from trade and business magazines, the Internet, and suppliers or experts. Showcase customers and employees. Tell people things they don’t know but would like to know.

4. Make your newsletter immediately recognizable. Create a name that defines what it you offer. Write provocative headlines designed to draw them in. Include photos and graphics. Keep it simple and uncluttered.

5. Consider having a graphic designer create a template that you can simply drop your material into each issue. This saves time laying it out each issue.

6. Maintain consistency. Publish weekly, monthly, or with a more elaborate print product, no less than quarterly. Stick to it.

7. If you find a regular newsletter too much of a commitment, start out by producing a timely “special report”. This will serve a similar purpose, but free you from the deadlines.

8. Cut costs for print newsletters. Team up with another business that reaches out to similar prospects. Run your rough design by your local post office. Sometimes simple size changes can cut postage. Compare prices from at least three printers. Offer an email option to save on postage and printing, but send it only with the customer’s permission. And, it might go without saying, offer an e-version you can post on your website, send in an email, or attach as a PDF.

9. Be professional. Don’t trust spell and grammar check alone. Have a human checker proof your copy.

10. Include a feedback device. Make it easy for readers to respond by including a contact name, phone number, fax number, postal and email address, and website url.