We’re going to explore ‘The 7 Steps To Newsletters Success’. Here are steps 1-3.

1. Who (Are Your Target Market)?

If you don’t know who your target market is, it’s almost impossible to attract them. Imagine trying to get a date without knowing which gender you’re interested in. You’d have to take the ‘let’s see’ approach.

Unfortunately, the ‘let’s see’ method of marketing tends to fail every time.

You need to know exactly who you’re dealing with. What they’re interested in and what’s going to make them buy your products. If you don’t know, you’re just taking your chances.

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’. We want to create a picture in mind of your average customer. Think of an age that symbolises most of your customers.

Sex: Are they male or female? ‘Half and half’ is too broad. Practically every business is split one way or the other. Give it some real thought – which gender spends more with you and visits more often.

Income: How much do they make? Do they earn a great living? Meaning that quality is the big issue, or are they scraping for every dollar, always looking for a deal? It’s essential that you find this out.

Where do they live: Are they local, or do they come from miles around to deal with you? This will dictate how you communicate with them.

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? If you only focus on writing stories that you find interesting. Rather than the ones that your customers find interesting, your newsletter will fail.

2. Where (To send your newsletter)?

Ask most businesses where they send their newsletters and you’ll get the same response – 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 that 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 don’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.

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 3 ways to acquire a mailing list

Buy one from a broker … This is a quick, but expensive way to get a mailing list. Most brokers can provide you with lists that target geographic or demographic segments of the population. For example, you can buy a list which will give you the names and addresses of women aged between 30-55, with an income of over £40,000 per year who live in a 7km radius of your store.

Whilst brokers can provide you with very specific lists, they tend to be far more expensive than general lists that they already have compiled. Cost will normally dictate how targeted you can be when buying a list from these companies. You’ll find these companies listed under ‘List Brokers’ or ‘Mailing Lists’ in the Yellow Pages. Remember though, 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 non-competitive 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. The success of this relies on you having a good relationship with the business in question. Although this method can be hit and miss, it can be a very inexpensive way of reaching potential customers. 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 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. By offering one of your products or services as the prize you have a greater chance of reaching only those people who are genuinely interested in what you have to sell.

To set up this competition you need to have tickets printed and a venue to run it in. Approach a shopping centre, sporting club or retail outlet to see if they’ll let you leave your tickets and entry box on their premises. Alternatively you can run it as a cut out the coupon competition in the local paper. If the prize you offer is of a high enough dollar value, the paper may run it for you free of charge. Contact their Promotions Manager and explain your idea. You’ll need to stress the interest the competition’s going to create and how it will increase the papers circulation.

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.

3. What (Do You Want To Say)?

Although a newsletter has the benefit of keeping your name in front of the customers mind, at the end of the day it needs to bring you more business. So to understand 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. People will not read a newsletter which 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 non-selling 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 the reader in a position where they’re ready to buy. All you need to do then is point out at the end of the article, that you stock that product, or provide that service. People will be knocking you over in the rush to buy what you’re trying to sell.

Another way to go about it, 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 that you happen to have in stock.

The main thing that you need to remember when writing your newsletter, is that you need to say something to your potential readers – that is, 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.

Let’s deal with each type of message, one by one …

Strong Offer: 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 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 that the offer you give them is worthwhile, the type that will have your phone ringing off the hook. See Section 4 for more detail.

Point Of Difference: This can work well when there is a large market for your product, and many competitors. For example, if you’re writing a newsletter for a clothing store, you may find it hard to convince people that 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 nibbles, 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 4 reasons they give the best haircuts in town, or a beauty salon could emphasise the 6 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 favourite subject in mind – THEM. 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.

Something Newsworthy: 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 value, tell your readers about it.