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Monday, October 4, 2010

Newsletter Content 101

One of the best newsletters I ever signed up for was from an online company that sells promotional items. It's hard to differentiate your company when you're selling a commodity (ink and toner is also a commodity product), but this particular company sells the interactions with their staff just as much as the product itself. I actually look forward to receiving their emails each week, because there is always something profound, cute, or just interesting that they include in their email. They also repost the email letters in their blog: http://www.marcopromotionalproducts.com/dan.html



This brings me to an important point about using the database you created: Content.



Here are five ideas to help you with your newsletter content:


  1. They say to write about what you know, and newsletters are no exception. Have an "ask the expert" section, or provide "helpful tips" about printing or consumables usage.

  2. Build trust through reviewing products or services. You may want to review a recent book you've read, or mention a great article you saw about "increasing office output efficiencies." Perhaps there's a new printer on the market that you can provide valuable information about because of first-hand experience. By offering free advice, you build trust, and people buy from people they trust.

  3. Offer something mindless, but cool. Sometimes a joke of the day, smile of the week, a brain teaser or an inspirational quote can turn a stressful day around. While this doesn't directly impact someone's decision to order from you, it can be the pick me up they need to finish their day... and it came from you.

  4. Short is OK. Some people think that a newsletter has to long, and have articles in it with profound knowledge. That's simply not true. An ancedote is nice, if that's who you are, but short quotes, and quick tips can be just as impactful.

  5. Inform. Are you having an open house? Online workshop? Lunch N Learn? Are you sponsoring a kids' youth baseball team, or sending a Scout to camp? Let your customers know that you are out and about in the community.

6... A Bonus... Don't be afraid to change up your offer or newsletter content based on segregating your database. Business customers who account for higher revenues would not benefit from coupons, while individuals might need the coupon to motivate them into your store. You also might have long-time customers who know the value of your services, so send them a request for a referral. You may send out new product announcements, or if you have a customer who never uses OEM (only remanufactured products), you would not send them specials on OEM cartridges.



I will warn you, though, when you segregate customers based on different criteria, you almost always end up with the unintended consequence of adverse customer reaction. This syndrome occurs when you send a 'special offer' to someone, who immediately tells their friend, who may also consider themselves a great customer of yours. When this happens, it's imperative not to alienate the customer who was upset about not being included. Just apologize, and make them the same offer. (And don't forget to include them in the same offers as their friend, just so it won't happen again.)

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