Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The ABCs of Customer Newsletters

26 Things a Customer Newsletter Can - or Shouldn't - Do 

Advertise a sale, of course
Bring in referral business
Collect customer data
---Go beyond demographics - find out where your customers buy related products, and use the info to partner with other businesses. Do it right and you'll both be able to increase sales!)
Deliver something extra
---What that is depends on your business model and your clientele. It doesn't have to be much, but you better figure it out, or no one will read past your first newsletter.
Erase misconceptions 
--A local restaurant owner I know casually has said to me about five times in the past five years, "Everybody thinks we're more expensive than (competitor), but we're not." To which I reply, "I know; you've told me. Why don't you tell all of your customers?" A newsletter could do it. I hope he gets the message before the place goes out of business... 
Fix a problem
Go green. 
---Paper isn't totally passe, but if you can deliver electronically, do it.
Help others
---Highlighting a (deserving) charitable organization or cause can not only improve your business's reputation, it can actually help others. Pretty nice feeling, isn't it?
Increase repeat visits
Jokes... are something you should leave out of your newsletter.
Kill 'em with kindness. 
---Let's hope you and your employees do this in person, on the phone, and every chance you get. Just in case, though, it's wise to take a really, really courteous tone in your newsletter.
List all of your products and services. 
---Even your most loyal customers probably don't take advantage of all you offer because they really don't know about everything you offer. 
Mold customer expectations
Name your products. See 'list' above.
Open new lines of communications
Prepare customers for what's next
Q & A sections are easy to read and are a great way to train customers so they can better use your store and your services. They can also help reduce confusion (and increase satisfaction) at purchase time.
Reward customers for reading
Surprise employees!
-----What better way to get them to read than to slip in a little personal recognition?
Thank your customers
----Offer a no-exceptions $10 off a minimum order coupon, or something even better. They're your customers. They're worth it.
Urge action 
---Successful newsletters do what successful salespeople do. They ask for the sale.
Validate customer concerns
Weed your list 
---Always provide an obvious, easy way for customers to opt out of the communications loop.
Xtra, xtra
---Even if your newsletter is delivered electronically, keep some (paper) copies on hand for new customers, employees who don't read it, or anyone who might send new business your way.
Yield to the demands of business, and the rest of life, if need be.
---You know your business better than anyone. If a legal complication or personal health crisis demands your attention, you can hand off the next issue to someone you trust, or just skip a newsletter. Return to your publication schedule as soon as you can.
Zoom in on your core competencies and position them well, making it oh-so-obvious that your organization is the best at what it does.

----Hey, if you don't do it, who will?

Want to get your message out to customers old and new? 
 Let's get started on your 2011 newsletter, on your schedule, within your budget. 

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