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Tim Horton-Brown, HKR is the Chief Technical Officer for
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We frequenly receive requests to speak at various
charitable and business functions, in addition to our industry "talks". The VectorInter.Net staff have presentations on many topics,
that we use on these occasions. We enjoy doing "career days" for school children
and business association "lunches". These short talks are
done at no charge, as part of our commitment to
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We also design staff training. You can add new skills to your existing staff or upgrade their skills to match the new software/equipment in your enterprise.
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Are you ready for an Email address that looks professional?
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These options are FREE, when we host a personal, club or business web site.
Contact the VectorInter.Net office nearest you or Email us at Info@VectorInter.Net
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Promoting your small business can be a challenge. Finding customers during a good
economy takes hard work. When the general business climate slows down, growing your
customer base can be a matter of life and death for the small or specialty business.
Traditional advertising on television / radio or with “yellow pages” and print advertising
are often inefficient or just too expensive. The smallest or most specialized businesses
often are more directly impacted by these high upfront cost, because of smaller cashflow
or lower margin of error in wasting precious company capital. Just like in many other
areas of business communication and commerce the internet offers an alternative. We’ve
all read magazine articles about how one company or another is successfully selling and
direct shipping it’s products. Direct sales, subscriptions and online auctions continue to
expand the diversity of items found “on the web”. The question is not “Can I sell my
product or service online”, but is “How can the internet help me find more prospects for my
sales message”. A commonly overlooked tool is the Email newsletter.
What is an email newsletter, and why is it an effective promotional tool?
Think of the traditional big-company internal newsletter/memo. They are/were an informational
newspaper, but instead of relating to a local city or country, it reported on just the
community that is the company. They were written, printed and distributed to
communicate inter-office announcements on policy and procedure, but also included discussions
of new products, industry trends, personnel announcements and information about
work / vacation schedules. With a little editing, this same newsletter format can be an
effective communicator for you too. The Email newsletter needs to be re-written for a
different audience. It needs to be formatted to be distributed electronically, not printed to
paper, but otherwise, the creation process is very similar. The “populist” medium of the
internet allows anyone greater definition in targeting a sales message to the most
likely prospects for your product or service. Isn’t that the goal of any advertising message?
Email newsletter readers are called subscribers, whether or not they “pay” for receiving
the group mailing. Most newsletters are sent to a collection of readers with a specific
interest reflected in the newsletters content. When you provide interesting content or
information of value your “group” will look forward to reading its contents. The largest
collection of niche newsletters can be found at “Yahoo Groups”, but there are other communities and you can do it
yourself. From a practical standpoint, the internet and email technology makes today’s company newsletter a very
inexpensive, yet effective, form of advertising. The format and style of newsletters varies widely. Some are very formal and
look like the online version of the Herald-Tribune, others are very small and casual. I’ll
discuss some key points below, but you can write articles on new products or services,
company or internal personnel awards, company events and industry news or business
developments. Recent success stories and case studies of customers using your products make great
reading, while at the same time showing your products and services “in action”. No
matter what the format or style, the Number 1 rule ( below) must always be to provide
information of value. Most Email newsletters are not “paid subscriptions”. You are
trying to develop a relationship with the reader. They trust you to make the time they
spend, productive. You hope they will remember your company’s products or services
when it is time to make a purchase. This is the "agreement" between publisher and reader.
Don't violate that trust and you'll do well.
Whether you want to grow your customer
base, upsell existing clients or cross-sell a new product or service, an Email newsletter
allows you to deliver the message to an interested audience. Many companies use
newsletters to establish a “brand name” or establish/reinforce an image of “authority” or
expertise on the industry. Reaching a wider, more diverse group of sales prospects is
commonly a byproduct of a good newsletter, and many times was the original goal. .
8 Simple Rules for Success with a Email Newsletter.
How to develop a great newsletter that subscribers will look forward to reading.
Rule # 1 Make it worth the readers time.
I mentioned Rule #1 above briefly. If I give you my Email address in exchange for the
information, advice, tips, knowledge, humor or witty insight you have promised, please
deliver the goods. Admittedly very few Email newsletters rise to the level of Studs
Terkel, William Safire’s Pulitzer Prize winning esays or the humor of Dave Barry, but try
to hold up your end of the bargain. If you don’t provide quality content one of two things
will occur. First, the requests to un-subscribe will increase, at which point you’ll have to
work even harder to grow your mailing list. The second situation is worse. Your Email
newsletter is deleted by habit as useless and a waste of time. Your mailing list will grow,
but fewer and fewer viewers actually read it. In this case, why bother sending it. Adjust
all the Rules #2 through * if you must, but never lose sight of Rule #1.
Rule #2 Tell me something I ( the reader) can use.
When I read your newsletter, I want to know something “NEW!”. Make it “news I can
use”. Give me a different perspective on an industry controversy. Explain why your
political opinion is the correct one. Don’t waste my time telling me something I already
know. The more you make the information relevant to the industry, social club, or
political circle that encompasses your subscribers, the more likely it is that your
readership will go up. Remember Steven Brill ( Brill’s Content) started out as an “angry
man with a word processor and a modem”. You can too.
Rule # 3 Know who your readers are.
As your list grows past family friends and employees, It’s a good idea to find out what
your readers are interested in. This may sound backwards, after all they subscribed to
your Email newsletter knowing it was about **%**., right? Do some research. Ask
questions and invite responses. Do your subscribers read this newsletter at home or in
the office. Do they share it with others, sometimes/never/always? Some software
packages can automate a report of which page links were clicked. You can know which
one of three HTML links was the most interesting to your readers. Keep a history of the
most popular links to know which subjects are of more/less interest.
Rule #4 Let your readers know who you are.
Let your editorial voice and personality show in the newsletter. The editors of the New
York Times, The New York Post and NewsDay, make sure that each days paper reflects
their “style”. Each is different, but you “know what you are getting” every day. Your
newsletter is no different. Pick a "style" for your newsletter and use it in every issue.
Here is where brand identity comes in to play. Even if your subscribers don't read every
word of your golden missive, they should recognize it as your newsletter. Readers are far
more likely to become loyal if they feel they know you. Try to include a bit of yourself in
the newsletter, whether it's humorous, personal details, personal anecdotes, or personal
views. The content of your newsletter should be dependable.
Rule #5 Be as personal as possible.
Try to write as if each newsletter was for each person. Of course this is impossible, but
you can use the reader's name in the greeting. Software can automate this, and many
other functions. Make sure when someone signs up, you get their name ( or screen name),
then use it in the subject line, in the greeting, and anywhere else you can. Personalization
also helps you avoid being labeled as SPAM.
Rule #6 Credit others for good ideas too.
The sure sign of an “expert” in any field is recognition that others can be knowledgeable
too. When you write industry news or political opinion, give credit to others in the story.
Name names and offer praise. The more willing you are to endorse a good product
service or idea, the more credibility you will have when it is time to knock a bad idea
down. By the way, Don’t forget to Email a copy of your newsletter to anyone featured.
They may signup, just to see if they are mentioned again. Wouldn’t it be nice if they
forwarded your newsletter to 250 of their closest, dearest friends. New subscribers can
come from anywhere.
Rule #7 Tempt the reader with a great “Subject line” Headline
The subject line of an email newsletter is like the headline in a newspaper story. If I’m
not interested in the “subject”, I’ll turn the page and go on. Make your subject lines
interesting, tempting, or curious. You want the subscriber to read your Email NOW!
Here’s one technical note, keep it short too. Subject lines should not be over 20-25
characters long. At the receiving end, you want subscribers to see the entire message.
Rule # 8 Write your Email newsletters in quick, easy to read paragraphs.
The USA Today is laughingly called “McPaper” because it isn’t a full meal, but a quick
bite to eat. Keep your content short and to the point. Remember most people don't read
online - they quickly scan through and pick out what is interesting. Use easy-to-read text,
bullet points ( like the 8 rules headlines on this page) and small paragraphs to summarize
the key materiel. Add links to your website and put the complete details there. Tracking
these links is Rule # 3 above.
Rule # 9 New laws require that you make it easy to unsubscribe.
Spam is no fun. We all hate it. Don’t be tempted. Why bother forcing yourself on
someone, when a little effort can lead you to others willingly interested in your
newsletter. Make your “unsubscribe procedure” easy to find and simple to do. Many
readers will also believe that the ease of unsubscribing is an indicator of the integrity of
Rule #10 Ask your readers to spread the word about your newsletter.
Any reader that subscribes probably knows others in the same industry, or with similar
social/political interest. Why not encourage readers to forward the newsletter on to these
friends and colleagues. There are email software packages that allow you to automate
this process too. Great word of mouth comes from valuable content ( Remember Rule #
1 ). Ebay, Google, Slate.com, and many others started small and exploded because of
friends sending links to friends. Get this step right and you’ll watch your subscriber list grow!
Bonus Rule #11 Be consistent and dependable.
If you tell me your newsletter will arrive every Wednesday morning, make sure it does.
Email newsletters can be single or multiple times daily tip sheets from a stockbroker.
Weekly or monthly schedules are more common. Whatever schedule works for you,
stick to it. I recommend starting slow and increasing the frequency as the situation
changes. Dependability counts. Rule #11 is a part of the mechanical functions of writing
a newsletter. I discuss these elements in another article called 7 steps to producing an
effective online newsletter. You can find it in the VectorInter.Net newsletter archive
elsewhere in this site.
I don’t want to leave the impression that a newsletter program will be an instant, magical
solution for your weak business sales. Newsletters are a tool to be integrated into the
other advertising and marketing programs any company uses. They take time and effort,
but the rewards can be a broader customer base, greater customer loyalty and the ability
to expand margins and product lines as your business grows.