Read an Excerpt
INSTANT REPEAT BUSINESS
By BRADLEY J. SUGARS
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Bradley J. Sugars
All rights reserved.
"It's time to now look at newsletters as a tool to generate repeat business, Charlie. Have you ever thought about producing your own?"
"No, Brad, that's way too involved for a small business like this. Besides, I just don't have the expertise, or the budget, to consider them."
"Let me put it this way. Do your competitors have newsletters?"
"Quite a few, Brad. There's the quick fitment center around the corner. They're a franchise, so they get one whether they want one or not. Then there's the exhaust shop that produces a black-and-white newsletter each quarter. It's not much, I must admit. It's cheaply produced on their photocopy machine, I'd say. I don't know about the other mechanical workshops, though."
"So they're fairly well accepted in the industry then, by the sounds of it. The trick, of course, is to have one that gets read and acted upon. You see, the whole objective here is to get your cash register ringing."
"That's all very well and good, but they still take a lot of know-how to produce, don't they? I mean, I'm no journalist, and I'm not about to hire one, if you know what I mean."
"You're right and wrong, Charlie. Yes, they do involve some know-how, and that's what I'm about to give you. And no, you certainly don't have to be a journalist to produce one. In fact, you don't need great writing skills at all. But we'll get to that in a moment."
Charlie looked unconvinced.
"I think I'm about to reach my level of incompetence, Brad. I feel I'm pushing the boundaries of my business ability here."
"Let me explain it this way, Charlie. Newsletters are certainly a lot more sophisticated or complicated than the tools we've discussed so far, but that doesn't mean you can't make excellent use of them. It also doesn't mean you can't do them well yourself. You see, I'm going to show you how to produce a professional-looking newsletter that will amaze your customers. They'll think you're in a different league than your competition. It'll reflect well on your business because it'll send out a quality image. It will set you up as an expert in your field and it won't be a huge drain on your resources, including your time. Unconvinced? Well, let me explain by starting at the beginning."
What Is a Successful Newsletter?
Basically any newsletter that is widely read, and results in increased sales, can be considered successful. The objective of your newsletter is not to bore people with uninteresting articles where you just talk about yourself; the objective is to remind them of who you are, and to get them to buy from you again.
As you probably know, to get a new customer you need to invest money in marketing. This means you have an acquisition cost for each new customer. Your acquisition cost is determined by how much your marketing costs you, divided by how many customers it brings into your store.
Once you've calculated this figure, you can then work out how many times each customer needs to purchase from you before she becomes profitable. In the average business this will mean selling to her two times before you begin to make a profit.
Your newsletter, then, is the tool you use to ensure your past customers come back on a regular basis. If they buy from you only once, you're actually losing money each time you acquire a new one. By using a well-formatted newsletter, you increase the number of times they do business with you, thus turning them into profitable customers.
What Makes a Successful Newsletter?
There are a number of key elements which, when combined, go into making up a successful newsletter. The most important of these is the content. You'll find out which article types work best shortly. Another important consideration is any offers you're making. No matter how well written, or entertaining, your newsletter is, if you don't make great offers, it will not bring you additional sales.
In the following pages, you'll learn how to write newsletter headlines that work, how to position your photographs for maximum impact, and which typefaces have the best recognition rates. You'll discover which stock your newsletter should be printed on, what size it should be, and which articles, angles, and appeals work best.
The Seven Steps to Newsletter Success
Step 1: Who Is Your Target Market?
If you don't know who your target market is, it's almost impossible to attract them. Remember what I said about trying to get a date without knowing which gender you're interested in? Remember, the "let's see" method of marketing tends to fail every time.
So let's get specific. Who are the people most likely to be interested in your product or service? Here are some guidelines:
Age: How old are they? Don't just say "all ages" or "a variety." Think of an age that symbolizes most of them.
Sex: Are they male or female? "Half and half" is too broad.
Income: How much do they make?
Where do they live?: Are they local, or do they come from miles around to deal with you?
What are their interests?: If you don't know what they're interested in, how can you design a newsletter that will capture their attention?
Step 2: Where Do You Send Your Newsletter?
Ask most businesses where they send their newsletters and you'll get the same response—to past customers. Of course, this is exactly who you want to send your newsletters to, but aren't you forgetting someone?
Unconverted prospects should also be added to your newsletter mailing list. The reason for this is quite simple. The fact that they didn't buy from you the first time doesn't mean they won't buy from you in the future. You invested money in getting them to visit you in the first place, so why not invest a little more in getting them to come back?
There can be a variety of reasons why people didn't buy from you initially. Perhaps you didn't have the exact model they were after, or maybe they weren't in a position to buy at that time. By keeping in contact with them, you give yourself the chance of doing business with them in the future.
Even if they have bought from someone else, you might be able to pick up some business from them for their parts and accessories requirements.
When you really think about it, the more people who read your newsletter, the more sales you'll make from it. All you need to make your newsletter a success is a database of prospects to mail it to.
There are basically three ways to acquire a mailing list:
Buy one from a broker. This is a quick, but expensive, way to get a mailing list. Remember that the idea of having a newsletter is to keep in contact with people who have already dealt with your business in the past? Sending your newsletter to a "cold list" is not as effective as mailing to someone who already knows who you are.
Mail to someone else's list. Find a noncompetitive company with a similar target market to your own. Then simply ask them if you could mail to their list or include your newsletter with one of their upcoming mailouts. Once again, this method is not as effective as dealing with people who are familiar with your business.
Create your own. This is one of the fastest and most effective ways to put together a list of people who are interested in your product or service. The quickest way to compile your own list is to run a competition. To enter, people simply need to write their name and address on the entry form provided and then drop it into a box or mail it in.
Of course, you can always just ask people if they'd like to receive your newsletter on a regular basis. Most people will probably say yes. You can then either have them fill out a form with their name and address, or take their details from your accounts.
Step 3: What Do You Want to Say?
We'll cover the content of your newsletter in more depth shortly, but for the moment we need to look at what it is you want from people reading your newsletter.
Although a newsletter has the benefit of keeping your name in your customer's mind, at the end of the day it needs to bring you more business. So understanding that we want to make sales, and get increased revenue, we need to look at the style in which we write our newsletter.
People will only read newsletters that contain interesting articles. They will not read a newsletter that is just one big sales pitch. The challenge is that we want to make sales from it. So how do we sell without looking like we're trying to sell?
Quite simply, we need to do both. People will tolerate some selling messages, providing there is enough nonselling content to make it worth their while reading on. But it is possible to sell without looking like that's what you're trying to do.
The easiest way to do this is by featuring articles on new products or services that you offer. By discussing the benefits of these products throughout the article, you can get readers ready to buy. All you need to do then is point out at the end of the article that you stock the product or provide that service.
People will be knocking you over in the rush to buy what you're trying to sell.
Another way is to simply position yourself as the expert on a particular product or service. Discuss how the product works and what to look for when buying it. Customers will begin to view you as the expert and will come to you seeking further advice. Of course your advice will be to buy the particular model you just happen to have in stock.
The main thing you need to remember when writing your newsletter is that you need to say something to your potential readers. There must be a subtle message you are conveying. This may be in the form of an offer you want to make, an important point of difference, a list of the benefits of dealing with you, or something newsworthy about your product or service.
It's essential that what you say is appealing to whom you are trying to say it to. For example, writing favorable articles about the sex industry in a newsletter aimed at old people probably won't work. Articles that look at historical events probably would.
Let's deal now with each type of message, one by one.
This is the most commonly used, and the one that tends to work the best. Remember that people are totally uninterested in reading a newsletter that does nothing but "sell." They've usually picked up the publication to keep informed and to be entertained. But you still need to sell in your newsletter, so make sure that you put a strong offer somewhere in it. Make sure the offer you give them is worthwhile, the type that will have your phone ringing off the hook. I'll discuss this in more detail later.
Point of Difference
This can work well when there is a large market for your product and you have many competitors. For example, if you're writing a newsletter for a clothing store, you may find it hard to convince people they should be coming to you and you only. But if you discussed the fact that yours is the only store that offers exclusive, after-hours showings along with a free glass of wine and snacks, then people will be sold on the idea of dealing with you.
Listing the Benefits
If you don't have a strong offer or point of difference, listing the benefits of dealing with you may do the trick. For example, a hairdresser could list the four reasons she gives the best haircuts in town, or a beauty salon could emphasize the six ways a prospect's skin will improve after one visit.
Most importantly, you must relate the benefits to the customer. Remember, always write your newsletter with their favorite subject in mind—them.
If you want to demonstrate the ways your business is superior to the competition, one of the more discrete ways of doing this is to write a section on the things to look out for. Those things that should be avoided. This is the most credible way to attack your opposition. But always remember that you can't name names.
Perhaps you've just opened a new room in your restaurant, or you have a famous author coming in for book signings. Maybe you've just been given an award, or one of your staff has done something amazing for a customer. If something has happened that has genuine interest, tell your readers about it.
Step 4: How to Write Your Newsletter
Now that we've covered the basics, it's time to get into the nuts and bolts of how to construct your newsletter.
First you're going to need a name for your newsletter. Take a bit of time to think about this one, as the right name can make a huge difference. There are basically two ways to approach it—a humorous name or a serious name.
A funny name can really get the ball rolling, especially if it's a clever play on words. A good example of an effective word play would be a men's clothing store with a newsletter called The Well-Dressed Mail, or a fencing company calling their newsletter the Steel & Wooden Post.
Be careful when choosing a humorous name. If yours is the type of business that deals with serious problems or conservative clients, it wouldn't do to have an amusing newsletter title. Can you imagine the type of negative reaction you'd get if you owned a hair loss center and had a newsletter called The Bald Bulletin? Sometimes you're better off to play on the safe side.
There's another obvious but often forgotten item that needs to be included is your contact details. I've seen it happen many times before where people simply forget to include the business address and phone number. Now some people may argue that their customers already know where they are, and would probably have their phone number already. But what if the newsletter were passed on to a friend? Besides, you need to make it easy for people if you want them to take action. If they have to go to a lot of effort just to find your phone number, they'll more often than not just give up. So include all relevant information including e-mail addresses or Web sites.
If you have a Web site that you regularly update, it's well worthwhile advertising the fact in your newsletter. This will give it the exposure it needs so that it can start making you money.
So let's take a look at the other sections and inclusions that will make your newsletter a success.
USP and Guarantee
Two things that you should consider including in your newsletter are your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and any guarantees you offer. Your USP is the one thing that is truly different about you, or at least the one thing you can promote as being different.
A successful USP should be:
Exciting to your target market.
Something that will have your customers telling their friends about it.
Something that can't be easily copied.
A lot of business owners wonder why they need a uniqueness at all. Shouldn't there be room for dozens of "me-too" businesses? The fact is, there isn't, and the "me-too" businesses will ultimately go to the wall.
If you don't have an existing USP, you'll need to find one. Start by listing everything you do that could be considered even a little bit unique. These points don't have to be earth shattering; they just need to be different enough to stand out.
To get you started, here's a list of some possible USPs you could adopt:
You sell a higher quality product or service, and you can specifically show how it benefits the customer in a meaningful way.
You provide better customer service and you can easily explain and promote why you're better.
You offer a better or longer guarantee and you have it written down.
You offer more choice/selection/options, and this is something people want and always look for.
You offer a trade-in program and no one else does.
You serve a specific (yet sizable) demographic group that is overlooked by most competitors.
You offer a better or more generous bonus points or loyalty club system and your product or service is at least as good.
You have the best after-sales service, and this is something you can explain to people easily when they buy.
Your product or service has unique features people care about.
You offer attractive products or services no one else does.
You have a "special ingredient."
You install and deliver for free.
These are just a few examples of unique, salable points. If you think hard enough about it, you're sure to find something you are currently doing that is unique. It's also possible you'll discover something you should be doing that would make you unique.
Basically, your uniqueness comes from one of seven areas: quality, price, service, delivery, speed, convenience, and experience. Regardless of what it is, you need to promote it at every available opportunity, and there's no better place to start than with your newsletter.
Your Very Own Newspaper
One of the things many people don't consider when they're producing their own newsletter is that it really is their very own newspaper. Now it's obviously not going to be considered a daily paper, nor even a weekly or monthly publication. But the rules for producing your newsletter are the same as those for a paper.
For starters, your newsletter should have an exciting lead story. Now it's not going to be about politics or scandal, but it does need to generate interest. This is important because if you don't get people interested in what you've got to say with your very first story, you won't get them reading on.
Now there are many ways to get off to a fast start, article-wise. Look through the stories you want to run with for each issue, take the one you think most people will be interested in, and lead with that. Hit them straight up with a powerful, curiosity-provoking headline, and keep them going from there.
Remember that while your newsletter has some distinct similarities to a newspaper, you should only ever talk about things that are relevant to your business, or of interest to your readers. Don't try to report on things that have no relevance. Always remember that the main aim of your newsletter is to make sales.
Excerpted from INSTANT REPEAT BUSINESS by BRADLEY J. SUGARS. Copyright © 2006 by Bradley J. Sugars. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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