A quality newsletter, sent regularly, is one of the best ways to present yourself as a trusted professional. It helps you develop and maintain relationships, say thanks for referrals, make announcements, publish testimonials, and notify clients of home tours. Three elements make a successful newsletter:

Content is king. First and foremost, the newsletter must be well written and feature articles relevant to your market. It must contain useful and varied topics. It needs to be unique. Remember: Readers are sophisticated. Your newsletter shouldn't be a big advertisement.

Design influences how others view your business. If the newsletter is stapled copy machine pages, the audience will see you as amateur. Is there enough white space, or is everything crammed together? Use two fonts — sans serif for headlines and a serif font for body text — for ease of reading. High-end audiences expect high-end marketing. If that's your market, use color on glossy paper, printed by a competent printing house.

Integrate the newsletter into your other marketing materials. Your newsletter should reinforce your brand and be in character with your other marketing. Its design should look similar and carry a consistent message. A well-executed newsletter almost always results in phone calls, and often leads. Focus on past jobs, using professional photography to generate interest. Cover timely topics from your perspective. Write about your process. —Stephen Wilson ([email protected]) is a partner in Biz-comm Inc., a marketing/communications firm specializing in the needs of remodelers. For marketing tools, go to www.biz-comm.com/downloads.