Why a Newsletter?
A newsletter is a special communication vehicle that allows you to talk to your customers on a consistent basis in ways that you can’t achieve through advertising, brochures, direct mail, cold calls, or office visits.
You should consider introducing your first newsletter with a brief introductory cover letter that goes out in the first mailing. Tell your customers how important they are to you and explain how you hope to help them with this newsletter. Ask for their feedback and ideas. You might also ask for referrals for the newsletter-any business associates they know who might benefit from the information provided. Make sure the owner or another key person in your firm signs the letter.
While your newsletter will be effective however you mail it, it’s always more credible if they are mailed in custom envelopes; however, don’t mail it with an invoice! You can also design your newsletter to be mailed as a “self-mailer” if that’s what you choose.
When developing your mailing list, make sure you include ALL the key people at a company who are involved – not just the person you work with directly. Each entry on your mailing list should always have a specific person’s name and title. Don’t just mail to “‘manager” or “‘communications director.”
The ideal list includes all your current customers (those who have done business with you in the past year – even very limited business), a carefully selected list of past customers (who still are good prospects), and a carefully targeted list of prospects.
In identifying prospects, consider renting a mailing list. A local mail house can help you develop a list of prospects. You can also use business directories to identify names and addresses of potential customers.
Your mailing list should also include all possible sources of new business referrals, not just direct sources of possible business. Accountants, bankers, brokers, realtors or any third party who is in the position of recommending your services should be included on your list.
You might also want to include key media contacts on your mailing list. By positioning your firm as a source of credible information, you may become a media resource someday-and there’s no better public relations than being presented as an expert by the media!
Encourage your best customers to use your newsletter as a referral piece when they are recommending their colleagues to you. A newsletter has perceived value without any strings attached.
Some people like to send reply cards out with their newsletters. A well designed reply card (more about reply cards in future posts) is a good vehicle for soliciting referrals and learning about your clients’ needs.
A newsletter can also be a good “calling card” or “leave-behind” piece at the end of a sales call or at speaking engagements, seminars, conferences and conventions. Position your company as an expert resource to business contacts and the media. Newsletters can be better than a business cards because they can demonstrate your firm’s expertise-and, of course, also includes your name, address, phone and fax numbers.
Keep postage costs down by doing a third-class bulk mailing. If you are mailing at least 200 pieces at a time, you are eligible to use a third-class bulk mailing permit which means a substantial reduction in the postage cost per piece mailed.
Finally, make sure that the key people in your office actually READ the newsletter before it goes out so that you can respond to questions and refer to it when talking to customers.