by Tony Vidler
Good prospects take time to convert to clients, so one of the tricks of great businesses is to keep ideal prospects engaged until they are ready to become clients of their own accord. An incredibly powerful tool for finding and then converting ideal prospects still 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 here, with a newsletter. Many advisory clients get far better numbers than this….similar cost but a far larger newsletter list and target market prospect pool.
But let’s just work with my modest numbers to show the benefit. The cost is $2.50 per year per prospect that I am actively engaged with. And they are engaged because they choose to be – they are not opt outs. They are good prospects who remain interested in what I share and talk about in those newsletters.
Now if that cost seems high to you then it is because I send a newsletter every 3 weeks. That’s right – 16 per year. That’s a lot more frequently than most advisers would have to do, and that drives the cost up of course. But then my target market live in an information filled world – they spend hours each day reading and are bombarded with information relentlessly. So in order to simply be present and create that top-of-mind-awareness I have to be there a lot more regularly than one might with other market segments or business offerings…you do definitely have to figure out what the balance is to maintain presence without being a nuisance.
The frequency of a newsletter is one of the factors that is critical to success, and finding that balance between being maintaining a presence with relevant information, but without being a pest, 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?
Maybe that is why so 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. So boring or useless content combined with irregular delivery undermines the effectiveness, but the poor engagement or return on those newsletters is often blamed by the intermittent users on something else like “nobody uses email anymore”.
Uh-huh. That would be it.
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, they 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. Actually being the party that sifts through all the noise and finds the gems that matteer…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 and engagement can be 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 if you want.
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 or dealing with similar questions over and over then 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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