Are Newsletters In Your Marketing Toolbox?

Marketing toolboxWhen you think of direct marketing promotions, a newsletter probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, it can be a great direct marketing tool for promoting your product or service.

As Lila Freilicher explained in her article “Newsletters Can Build Your Reputation” (DM News), “It will develop your image and uniqueness as an industry leader and your reputation as a company offering quality products and services. And a well-thought-out newsletter can be used as a direct marketing device to build business and make a sale.” By combining a little public relations, image-building and selling, newsletters provide useful information. And, information is the key word here.

Creative consultant Don Hauptman explained, “As has been observed more than once, we live in an Age of Information. In this world, there exists a species we call ‘information seekers.’ These people need specialized data. . .”

A good promotional newsletter offers mostly valuable, worthwhile information to its readers. Depending on which newsletter specialist you talk to, they’ll advise you that anywhere from 1/10 to 1/3 of it may be geared towards promotion.

As far as direct mail goes, newsletters are not as aggressive at selling as other forms of the medium. Yes, they may promote your business, but they’re not hard core sales tools. I, for one, make it a point to pack my newsletters with information my readers can use and keep my “sales pitch” low key.

Or consider the words of consultant Herman Holtz. In his book, Great Promo Pieces (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), he says, “Of course, your newsletter is promotional literature. You created it to help market your company’s products or services, and the content is therefore necessarily advertising, even if low key or soft sell.

At the same time, since you characterize and publish it as a newsletter, it cannot be 100 percent unabashed advertising matter. That would immediately destroy its usefulness. You must publish some material that is worthy of appearance in a newsletter and is definitely slanted to the reader’s probable direct interest. . . .It cannot be a pure sales letter, brochure or advertising circular.”

Before you ever begin producing your newsletter you must be clear on its purpose. First of all, who is it going to?

1. Your customers & prospects.
2. Your sales force.
3. Your employees.

In her book, Creating and Producing the Perfect Newslettes (Scott, Foresman and Company) Patricia Williams reiterated the importance of identifying your audience. She asked, “Who are your readers? Identify each group of readers that you want to reach with your newsletter. . . . you need an accurate profile of your readers, which will help you zero in on content and on the image your newsletter should project for your organization.”

For purposes of this post, you’ll read about those newsletters that are targeted to customers and prospects. Small business advertising specialist Cynthia Smith said, “. . . newsletters build up a relationship with customers and prospects that is invaluable.”

Here are 4 reasons to develop a newsletter to this particular market:

1. To follow-up on inquiries and qualify potential customers.
Let’s say you have the world’s best widget to sell. However, experience has shown that usually 6 months to a year may pass between the time of a prospect’s first inquiry and the time they actually buy. Do you just sit back and wait? NO.

Stay in touch with your potential customers and determine if they are indeed serious buyers. How? If they’ve opted-in to your e-mail list, send the newsletter via e-mail. Or, with the overload of email in inboxes these days, consider “snail” mailing your newsletter.

2. To increase perceived value of a membership.
I think just about every organization I’ve ever been a member of has provided its members with a newsletter. A free subscription is seen as an added value of membership, especially when the newsletter was well-written and informative.

Newsletters are also beneficial in influencing the opinions and attitudes of their readers. Look in your inbox and/or mailbox and you may find a newsletter from your local Humane Society, Hospice, or another local non-profit.

3. To establish positive, long-term relationships with your customers and stimulate repeat sales. After a customer has purchased your product or service, don’t just shake their hand and send them on their way. A newsletter is an excellent way to stay in touch – emphasizing how you value their patronage.

As Freilicher pointed out, “The newsletter maintains a steady flow of communications with customers throughout the years. It shows all customers – even those who have strayed – how valuable they are and that they haven’t been forgotten.” Last year, I had that experience. A former client called, needed assistance and said “I am always reminded of you when I get your newsletter and this last one came at a time when I really needed your help. The timing was perfect.”

Newsletters also encourage repeat sales by giving you the opportunity to recommend accessories that enhance the performance of the product your customers bought or introducing new products available since they were last at your place of business.

4. To uncover new leads.
If you’re a member of an organization or association you may already be receiving newsletters from various businesses.

Chances are if you are the least bit interested in the topic of the newsletter, if it’s information that you find valuable, you’ll hold onto it. And, when you finally need the services of that company you may actually call them (it’s happened to me). Through their newsletter they’ve proven themselves knowledgeable so you’ve already developed a sense of trust in them (and we all know about building that KLT Factor – know, like and trust).

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For 5 tips on on what topics to cover in your newsletter and how to write about them in a manner your readers find easy to read, read this post about writing newsletters that build relationships.

What are your thoughts about newsletters? Are you using them? Please share your comments below because I’d love to hear from you. Thanks and here’s to your sweet success.