by Tony Vidler
An incredibly powerful prospecting tool is the humble newsletter.
You can build,and maintain, top of mind brand awareness. You can establish or reinforce expert positioning. 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 my newsletter.
That is a $2.50 cost per year per prospect that I am engaged with.
Now if that seems high to you then it is because I send a newsletter per fortnight. That’s right – 24 per year (we do have a little scheduled break over the Christmas season). Fortnightly might seem a lot, but my target market live in an information filled world – they spend hours each day reading.
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 pick up and use is striking.
Think about that for a moment: 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 provide generic, bland, economic drivel that they could read in the paper if they ever bothered to turn to the bland pages? Yet so many advisers do precisely that, and it makes no sense. Instead of being the “go to guy” with the answers to their problems, you become the specialist in yesterdays boring news stories.
And 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.
People can share, refer friends, forward the newsletter to multiple addresses, click to share on social media….the market reach is extraordinary. That is always contingent upon the content actually being stuff that the market wants though of course.
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 two answers to that question:
1. The things you talk about all the time to 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.
2. 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 seem to 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).
If you have decided that it is worth $2.50 to stay engaged with your ideal prospect, you now know what you have to do.
Other than that, just remember the Golden Rule of Newsletters:
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