Is an ideal prospect worth $2.50 per year to you?
Sales & Marketing for Professional Services & Sales Tips

Is an ideal prospect worth $2.50 per year to you?

March 26, 2013

by Tony Vidler

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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: 

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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.

  • What do you want to be known for?  That is, what position, or expertise are you trying to establish?
  • Who is it for?  Who is the audience that you are trying to appeal to?
  • Why are you doing it?  Your purpose (new leads; new sales; service; brand positioning; whatever…) will determine the style and approach.
  • Where does it fit in with all the other information they are exposed to?  Do you want it to fit in, or to be deliberately different to other information they receive?
  • When is it going to be sent?  The frequency, regularity, time of the day…they all matter to the impact and effectiveness.
  • How are you going to execute the strategy?  What is needed; who is going to do what; what can be outsourced…or not….but how are you going to achieve it the strategic goal?

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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© 2013 Tony Vidler.  All rights reserved. All materials contained on this web site not otherwise subject to copyright of other parties are subject to the ownership rights of Tony Vidler.  Tony Vidler authorises you to make a single copy of the content herein for your own personal, non-commercial, use while visiting the site. You agree that any copy made must include the Tony Vidler copyright notice in full. No other permission is granted to you to print, copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, upload, download, store, display in public, alter, or modify the content contained on this web site.

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Comments (3)

  • Great post Tony – done well, email newsletters are extremely powerful and the annualised cost is generally cheaper than one old snail mail letter.

    Mark
    • thanks Mark- I appreciate that. (Though it isn’t a complete surprise that you liked this particular post!)

      tonyvidler
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