Writing a Newsletter for Your Business

Did you know that for every month you are NOT in contact with your clients and customers, you lose about 10% of the value of your relationship with them?

How often are you in touch with your clients and customers?

A monthly newsletter is an ideal way to stay in touch with clients and customers, it is inexpensive, and really is not that hard to do.

Remember, it is much more cost-effective to do whatever it takes to keep your current clients and customers than it is to try to woo new ones.  Your current clientele is like gold! Even if they only buy a one-time item from you, don’t forget that they are excellent sources of diversified marketing strategies or for referrals.  Referrals are not to be discounted.  Without referrals, your business influence is severely limited.

A newsletter should consist of five major components:

  1. A personal touch from you, the owner of the business.  Some people write a quick note to their readers.  Others place editorial comments throughout the newsletter with their name after the comment.
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  2. Educate your clients and customers. This is a great place to let people know how best to use your products and services.  You might even consider highlighting other clients and customers and how they are using your goods and services.  While you can’t be everything to everyone, you can certainly let them know what you do well!
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  3. Inspirational articles that give people something to think about and feel good about themselves.  The better people feel after reading your newsletter, the better the impression they will have of you and your business.  Remember, you want them to associate a “feel great” mentality to you! You might include inspirational quotations, or articles about ways to improve their performance, health, or attitude.
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  4. Testimonials that reinforce the idea that you are the best person to be doing business with. This is a huge point.  People like to be part of the “in crowd”, and testimonials further cement the idea that doing business with you is the right thing to do.
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  5. Use your newsletter as a direct response opportunity.  While your newsletter should not be filled with ads and information about you and your company, you should not be shy about asking for referrals, providing special offers to people who refer other customers to you is just good business.  Go into partnership with another small business.  Combine your efforts.  Is there a restaurant nearby?  Can you purchase discounted gift certificates from them, and give them to customers who refer paying customers to you? Get creative.  Unite with other small businesses and make it worthwhile for clients and customers to do business with all of you.

Start off with a page or two…the important thing is to just get started today! You can pretty things up later, consider it to be a “work in progress”.  The next several postings will cover newsletter creation ideas in a lot more detail.

Stay Tuned!

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Social Media as Advertising for Small Business

The times…they are a-changing!

It used to be that you had to market to your customers on a regular basis, reaching out to them at regular intervals with more and more messages about how and why they should do business with you.

Let me tell you my friends, things are changing!

With the advent of social media, and by that I mean…

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Blogging – WordPress, Blogger, etc.
  • LinkedIn
  • and many, many more…

…customer behavior and expectations are changing, moving from the “old way” to the new way.

When people look to shop for something these days, they don’t open a catalog, or yellow pages the way they used to.  Now, they ask their friends for advice (not so different, right?) but they do it through social media now.  They aren’t just asking their coworker or next door neighbor…they are using Twitter and Facebook to ask, “What do you think?”

And this is powerful!

If you aren’t a presence on the internet, you are MISSING OUT ON A LOT OF MONEY!

A young woman wanted a camera to take on vacation and so she asked for advice from her friends on Twitter.  A CMO (chief marketing officer) for Kodak was on Twitter, monitoring for this type of query.  He reached out to her and suggested one of Kodak’s least expensive cameras that might be a solution for her situation.

This is a 6+ billion dollar company!  And they are on Twitter, chatting with their customers about the pros and cons of an inexpensive camera.  How incredibly powerful is that?  It used to be that to get in touch with the executive of a huge corporation, you really had to have connections.  Today, if you want to stay in the running for business, you need to be using social media.

A recent article caught my attention about a local Phoenix restaurant, Z-Tejas.  One of their customers was really unhappy with a recent visit to their restaurant and tweeted about it.  Instantly, one of the owners of Z-Tejas contacted their unhappy customer and sorted out the matter.  Had they not been monitoring Twitter, they would have NEVER known how unhappy this person was, and that they were tweeting about it to anyone on their list.  I’m not as active on Twitter as a lot of other people, but my list is over 400 people.

Would you like 400 people to read about a bad experience?  Or would it be better to have 400+ people see that you appreciated how much of a problem this was for one of your guests, and you actually took steps to fix the problem? Believe me…negative advertising can cost you a LOT of money.

By monitoring Twitter, being attentive, and alert to a problem Z-Tejas was able to reach out to this unhappy customer and fix the situation.  This kind of advertising is worth its weight in gold!

Today, people Google everything. According to the February 2010 study from Compete.com blog, 3 out of 5 customers all use search engines when shopping for something, and that includes when they are shopping locally.  They want to know who has what they’re looking for. Not using social media can be killing your business.

Everyone who knows me understands how important shopping locally is to me.  If you don’t let your local customers know about you, how interested you are in them, their concerns, and how you might be able to help, they will find someone else to solve their problems.

And, very often, that is money you won’t be collecting, and if it isn’t local, the entire community suffers.

To that end, I can be found on Twitter as @KathleenBirming and @SmallBizBits.  I can also be found here on Facebook as Kathleen Birmingham.  And if you want to stay up on my Small Biz Bits, please “like” my page here.

Are Your Ads Working?

Let’s face it, advertising is a necessary evil of being in business…but are these ads really doing the trick?

They might not be…here’s a quick way to evaluate your ads to see if you are setting yourself apart from your competition, or merely falling into line with everyone else, giving all potential clients and customers heartburn when it comes to making a choice. Let’s be really, really honest here…if you were to take your competitor’s ad, remove their name and/or logo and replace it with yours, would your ad look pretty much the same?

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ABC Sales

Come in and check out our special rates

We have flexible financing, friendly sales personnel, and are open weekends.

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Are you surprised to find that you’re pretty generic…you both are making the same claims? Many people are.  They really, truly believe that they’re different from their competition, but they’ve really given their clients and customers no way of discovering that for themselves.

If you haven’t managed to set yourself apart with your advertising words, why would anyone choose you over your competitor?  Think about it, if your prospect can’t find anything to distinguish you, a way to tell you apart, the only criteria they will use at that point is who has the lowest price, or who answers the phone first.

Are you willing to let your business be subjected to such flights of fancy, or just dumb luck?  I hope not, because if you do, you’re traveling on a dead end trail. You’ll never reach the level of success you probably deserve.

Remember, people want to know about the product of service you offer.  They don’t want to know how great you are initially, they want to know if you can deliver.

If you have the product or service they need, then when they come in to your business you will be able to persuade them to believe in what you say about your quality of service, superiority, pleasure of business experience.

Not before!

Figure out what your clients want and need,

answer that in your ad,

and then make sure you deliver it.

Words – Persuasion

We are constantly persuading and being persuaded, whether we realize it or not.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we knew when we were engaging in this behavior?

What would it do for us?

Even more importantly, what would it do for our business?

Being able to be persuasive without being manipulative will allow you to experience a sales interaction that is both professional as well as productive.  As a small biz owner, who wouldn’t want that?

Every word we utter or write is designed to do something. The problem occurs when we don’t plan out what our words actually mean. We just say something or quickly throw some words on paper or on the computer screen because we have to.

With a little thought and effort, you can refine your message to more accurately reflect what your business stands for and what people can expect by doing business with you.

Stay tuned for more information on how to write for your business.  There is PLENTY of information on this topic!