“I kicked, screamed, and dragged my feet when my marketing manager wanted to try a newsletter. ‘Why not just send product flyers?’ I asked. But they’ve worked for us and a lot of other companies, too!”
Will They Buy from You Tomorrow?
So they bought your product yesterday, but will they buy it tomorrow? In many markets, the differences between products have narrowed to the point of insignificance. Hence, your ability to build a relationship with people who buy your products is more critical than ever. Newsletters can help build relationships. They can show customers how to get more value out of your products, perhaps by showing how other customers are finding new uses for them or, in the case of resellers, by showing new ways to merchandise them.
You want customers to know as much about your products and services and your firm as they possibly can. You want to keep your firm fresh in their minds. If you can do this, your customers are going to be much more likely to do business with you again, even if a competitor is offering the same product or service at the same price.
With emails and websites it’s a lot easier to send out newsletters or direct people to your blog, website, or social media channels. It’s easier to get people to your newsletter, especially prospective customers. With all the tools out there, it’s easy to create a really professional and sharp-looking newsletter. And you can track how many people open your email and look at the newsletter.
Create Product Evangelists!
Especially in its early days, when it dominated the emerging market for personal computers, Apple Computer was phenomenally successful at creating product evangelists. These were people who didn’t just like Apple computers—they loved them, and they loved them so much they told everyone they knew to go buy one!
Newsletters can help create product evangelists by building a bond with your product users. You may also want to send newsletters to “key influencers”—people who are in an unusually good position to be able to recommend your product to many others.
For example, part of the success of our JobBank career books, a cornerstone of my book business in its early days, was attributable to how widely and favorably they were recommended to job hunters by college placement counselors and librarians—to whom we often sent mailings.
Avoid the Hype!
One of the reasons many newsletters work is that people read them—no small feat when one considers the typical mail volume at most businesses. The reason people read them is that they think they might find something useful or interesting—not just a blatant sales pitch.
For example, the leading publisher in the book trade, Random House, had a newsletter that was as well read as some of the industry trade magazines. People loved the chatty, informal, no-hype style. The newsletter added to its credibility and readership popularity by occasionally recommending books published by competing firms. Like many other newsletters today, the Random House newsletter later became available on the Internet.
Cracking Tough Accounts
My marketing manager loves newsletters because in his earlier twenty-year career as a retail buyer, newsletters got him to place orders, while fancy brochures and flyers went quickly into the wastebasket.
In my experience, I’ve had mixed results mass-mailing newsletters to cold prospects—I only was able to open up a few new accounts. On the other hand, I find that newsletters work well as one part of the sales mix, when you are already calling or visiting a critical, but difficult, new account.
Sometimes I find that buyers at larger accounts drag their feet picking up a new product until they feel it’s already a well-established success. And a newsletter is a perfect vehicle to communicate the success of your products to potential buyers.
Side Benefits of Newsletters
Newsletters are great not just for customers, but also for getting employees, distributors, commission sales reps, the media, and other third parties excited about your firm. I’m often surprised to hear that even many employees learn important new information about our company through the newsletter.
I’ve also found that the job of newsletter editor is a great motivator in and of itself. I know one of our newsletter editors felt that creating the newsletter was the most exciting part of his entire job—no big surprise because he was in charge of the newsletter and the rest of his job consisted of being one of many assistant editors on a large editorial team.
Takeaways You Can Use
- Newsletters help build valuable customer relationships.
- Newsletters can break through advertising clutter.
- Use your newsletter to create the perception of success.