A newsletter is a great tool to get your business noticed and keep you top of mind with clients and prospects.

“A newsletter creates visibility — and visibility transfers into credibility,” says Sara Gilbert, founder of Strategist in Montreal. “It’s an additional touch point with your clients and your prospective clients.”

Follow this expert advice to get your newsletter off to a great start:

> Understand the rules
Before you create or send a newsletter to anyone, make sure you know the law.

Canada’s anti-spam legislation (Bill C-28 passed in October 2010) states that before you can add people to your e-newsletter list, you must have their permission, or have had business dealings with them over the past two years, says Sandra Bekhor, president of Bekhor Management in Toronto.

These rules apply to e-newsletters only and do not relate to any printed version you send by regular mail, she adds.

As well, Gilbert says, it’s important that you include an “unsubscribe” feature on your email version.

> Know what sets you apart
Integrate your newsletter into your overall brand and marketing strategy.

Your newsletter should build on your point of difference, says Bekhor. What makes your advisory practice different from others? Who do you serve? This uniqueness should come across in every aspect of the newsletter, from content and design to the tone of the articles.

For example, if you are known for telling lots of stories around the office, the tone of the newsletter should reflect that, she says. If you are very formal in your business approach, make sure that’s incorporated.

> Consider the pros and cons of print vs. electronic
Do you want to do a print or an electric newsletter — or both?

Printed newsletters are easier to read and can offer more space than a quick e-newsletter, says Gilbert. The cost of printing and mailing newsletters can be expensive, however, so it’s best to send them only to your “A” clients.

Send an electronic newsletter to your other clients, says Gilbert. Don’t forget to use a snappy subject line to increase the chances of it being opened.

> Make the commitment
Be prepared for the time required to start and maintain a newsletter.

Many advisors start a newsletter, only to cancel it a few months later because they don’t realize the work involved, says Gilbert. It can take a whole day to prepare the content and by the time you have it approved and sent out to your clients, it’s time to start on your next issue.

Consider outsourcing some articles to a professional writer who understands the financial services industry, suggests Gilbert. Some writers will clean up a draft you’ve written, while others will research and write an article based on a topic of your choosing. You can find writers either through your firm’s marketing department or through a social networking site such as LinkedIn.

Or recycle content twice a year to save time and give your readers a second chance to read an article they may have missed the first time, she says.

For example, Gilbert suggests, repeat articles in June and in December. Use the titles such as “Articles Worth Repeating” or “Most Popular Articles.”

Next: Developing a structure and content for your newsletter