As any consultant knows, there’s no shortage of people who claim to be experts.

With almost 25 years’ worth of experience in consulting, Tom Ahern has come to realize that claiming your expertise is never enough to be successful — you have to show people your talent upfront.

“One of the first things I learned is you have to become a visible expert. You have to speak in front of audiences, publish articles, and send a professional newsletter that demonstrates your capabilities,” Tom explains.

With this approach in mind, Tom has become one of the world’s top authorities on increasing donations for nonprofits through persuasive communications.

But first, he had to learn how to create a newsletter that would deliver the results he wanted.

“I had a newsletter for years that was very rough and ready,” Tom says. “I realized I could really be using my newsletter more to build an audience. I started looking around at some options and that’s when I found Constant Contact.”

Nonprofit communications expert, Tom Ahern

Nonprofit communications expert, Tom Ahern

Tom has been using Constant Contact for more than 7 years to send quality email newsletters to his email subscribers. At least every two weeks he sends out engaging emails that are continually well received by his growing audience.

Here are some steps he takes to make sure each message is worth the time:

1. Start with your audience in mind

Connecting with the right audience is crucial for any business, but when you offer specialty services, finding the right clients is especially challenging. “When you’re a true specialist, finding the right customers is a needle in a haystack kind of thing.” says Tom.

“Having the right tool — an email newsletter — gives me the perfect vehicle to show people what I do, while also entertaining them, encouraging them, and building a sense of community among them that we’re all interested in the same thing.”

Tom takes the time to research and write on topics he believes his audience will be interested in. Each newsletter contains images and links to helpful resources. To keep the formatting clean and visually appealing he uses Constant Contact’s email templates.

2. Let your personality come through

Tom has found that his newsletters are most effective when they are representative of his business and brand. Rather than offering general knowhow, he is not afraid to throw in jokes, anecdotes, and creativity to show his unique approach to communication and grabbing attention.

“The newsletter allows potential clients to sort of screen me. I don’t write bland prose — it has a tone, a point of view, it’s supposed to be funny,” Tom explains.

Tom’s newsletters give his readers an opportunity to get know, like, and trust him, even before they work with him directly.

3. Spread the word

Once Tom started putting more time into his newsletters, he wanted to reach as large an audience as possible. Growing his email list through a combination of in person and online promotion gives him the best results.

“At the end of every presentation I give, on the last slide, I’ll always give my website address and encourage people to subscribe to my free newsletter,” he says. “I also promote it heavily on my website. I have a full archive there, so people can read through a few and see if they want to sign up.”

Promoting his newsletters has resulted in an engaged email list of almost 10,000 people from all around the world.

4. Take cues from email reports

After hitting send, Tom checks back to see how his audience is responding to his message. Looking at his reports, he is able to see how many people are opening his emails and what kind of material they are finding the most helpful.

“The first thing I look at after I send an email out is my reports where I can see what people clicked on. For me, it’s feedback on what I offered them that they found interesting,” Tom says.

Keeping track of the material that is performing best helps Tom decide what to include in the next edition of his newsletter.

Becoming a visible expert empowers the right clients to find you.

Every newsletter Tom sends out is designed specifically for his target audience. By taking the time to create a regular and engaging newsletter, he is able to build on connections with existing clients and demonstrate his expertise to prospects.

“What I’m really trying to do is help the right clients find me.” Tom explains. “For years, in large part to the newsletter I think, I’ve never had trouble attracting new clients and the right kinds of clients. People will read my newsletter and be able to tell if I’m the right person for the project before they even call me.”

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