by Tony Vidler
An incredibly powerful tool for finding and then converting ideal prospects remains the humble newsletter.
You can build, and maintain, top of mind brand awareness with it. You can establish or reinforce expert positioning with it. Your reach can be extraordinary – particularly so with an e-zine or email-based newsletter.
In the digital age it can – if done well – become almost viral. A small one-man-band can within a year have 1,600 target market prospects engaged by using a carefully structured and well positioned newsletter. All this for less than $4,000 per year. I am not making that number up: that is what happens in my business, with a newsletter.
That is a $2.50 cost per year per prospect that I am actively engaged with. And they are engaged because they choose to be. They are good prospects.
Now if that cost seems high to you then it is because I send a newsletter every 3 weeks. That’s right – just 16 per year (we do have a little scheduled break over the Christmas season). It might seem a lot, but my target market live in an information filled world – they spend hours each day reading. So in order to simply be present and create that top-of-mind-awareness I have to be there regularly…but without being a pest about it.
The frequency of a newsletter is one of the factors that is critical to success, and finding that balance between being a nuisance and maintaining a presence with relevant information can be tricky. But if you know your target market well, and know what their issues and work habits and needs are, then you won’t have too much trouble working out what the right balance is. Just put yourself in their shoes: what would you think is appropriate?
Not too many years ago all of this was an incredibly laborious task. It was drudgery. Running a bigger crew, with about 6,000 clients, and firmly committed to sending 3 newsletters per year. Just 3. But we’d spend hours and hours thinking and writing stuff, eventually settle on something and send it off to the printers. About a week later we would receive heaps of boxes of beautifully printed newsletters – thousands of them! Of course we hadn’t been idle during the week the printers were doing their thing – we were printing up labels for every client, ordering in boxes of envelopes and then getting all the labels put on….and when the newsletters arrived we’d gather the entire office team around a few bottles of wine on a Friday afternoon and begin folding and stuffing envelopes….ah the good old days!
Little wonder that so many advisers veered away from committing to providing regular newsletters. And I am continually surprised at how few provide newsletters today. Of those advisers who DO actually provide newsletters, the blandness and lack of practical information that their prospects can use is striking. And all too often those who are using newsletters do not deliver consistently….they get a little lackadaisical on frequency.
If you have actually committed to providing regular service and contact with a newsletter, and are positioning to be THE person they turn to when they have money questions, why would you then deliver an infrequent service? How can they trust you to deliver on everything else you promise?
And if you provide generic, bland, economic drivel that they have already had flash across all of their device screens 2 weeks ago…well…how valuable are you to them? Yet so many of the few who do provide regular content do precisely that, and it makes no sense. Instead of being the “go to” with the answers to their problems, you become the specialist in yesterdays boring news stories.
It doesn’t need to be like that at all because it is SOOOO easy...and so valuable if done correctly. It is easy to find interesting, quirky, fun stuff that is useful or entertaining. It is easy to produce content to reinforce your expertise and positioning. It is easy to find soothsayers predicting the future…it is actually easy to find anything to fit the approach and positioning you want to create. In fact it is because we (and our prospects) are swamped with content choices that you have the opportunity to be a trusted voice by delivering practical and on-point information that can make a difference to them. THAT is valuable to prospects.
Get the content right and maintain a consistent presence and you find that people share, refer friends, forward the newsletter to multiple addresses, click to share on social media….the market reach is extraordinary.
When discussing the power of well planned and executed newsletters with advisers the first barrier that is thrown up is almost always “but what do we write about?” There are three answers to that question:
1. You don’t have to write anything actually. Simply curate great content which is relevant for your audience.
But if you want to position your voice, then:
2. The things you talk about all the time to existing clients will be of interest to other potential clients. If you find yourself having similar conversations with different clients – you have something to write about because it will appeal to other target market prospects, and it will appeal to many other clients.
3. There are some pretty safe and basic principles when it comes to working out what people like to read.
Here they are:
Having figured out what you are going to write about, it is not that hard to work out how to do it. Look at the image at the top of this post that was chosen deliberately. Begin with What, and work your way around in a clockwise fashion.
That is about all there is to it really.
Email newsletters remain one of the most under-utilised methods of social networking engagement with clients; one of the most cost effective; and one of the most effective prospecting tools available today. And in the age of compliance and audit trails, they can be quite magical in terms of demonstrating a level of customer service and the offer of ongoing advice.
Know your market well and it will be easy enough to work out what is the right balance, and what is relevant and meaningful content that they will pause and pay attention to (more often than not).
Prospecting is so hard that once you have a good one then it seems to make commercial sense to me to invest about $2.50 a year to stay engaged with them – that’s loads cheaper than doing new advertising or marketing.
Besides….so few of your competitors are doing it well, so there is probably a great opportunity to grab their prospects too….
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