The Reports of The Death of Email Newsletters Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
Believe it or not, ezines, or email newsletters, are still an incredibly effective communication tool for local small businesses because of their in-depth material. I started my email newsletter a couple of years ago but it was a few years in the making. I wanted to do this for a long time but never thought I had anything important to say.
Then, I got on Facebook and people told me they liked my writing and how I’d helped them. After all, helping is exactly what I wanted to do. So, I fundamentally shifted my view of my business and realized that I was being of service to others if I shared my local small business marketing ideas with more people.
The most important marketing tool you have, besides yourself, is your knowledge. And, your knowledge can help people. You probably already know that because your customers tell you that…I hope.
Knowledge is the heart of content marketing and in today’s world, content marketing is king. Content marketing means sharing information with your customers and prospects to educate them. Local small businesses now have to work harder to attract savvy customers. With fierce competition, they need better reasons and experiences to buy and choose from us over the other guy.
Launch Your Local Small Business Email Newsletter In 5 Steps
1) A Marketing List
Over the course of several emails, I outlined how to build your list. You can refresh your memory here, here and here.
2) A White-Hatted Email Marketing Service
What’s a white-hatted service? Benchmark Email, the one I use, is. It’s like an old Western movie. The good guys wear the white hat and the bad guys wear the black hat. The major ISPs like Yahoo, Earthlink, Google, Hotmail, AOL et al, look for companies that have healthy emailing practices and identify them as white hats. The white hats pass through the servers unabated because they’ve proven their trustworthiness. The black hats get stopped at the door, shuffled to a SPAM folder or completely deleted off your server, unknown to you. No, spam filtering isn’t perfect but there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye.
If you just send one from your email account, you are inviting trouble. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) i.e. Comcast, ATT, views your large list suspiciously and you can get jammed up by the recipients ISP, blocking you forever.
White-hatted services like Benchmark also offer tons and tons of templates that make your newsletter practically a no-brainer. You try it FREE for 30-days, play with it and see if it works for you.
3) A Viewpoint
Your email newsletter need not consist of anything more than a short article and, occasionally, an offer like a discount, free consultation or an event. If you hate to write, you can hire someone to do that or you can use a service for your industry. If you work for a large national firm or franchiser, they will often supply the materials to you. If you create a goal of 250 words or less, you can do it. That’s a single page, double-spaced. God knows, you cranked out more than that in college.
Here’s a link to get lots of inspiration for creating blog postings because it’s effectively the same as writing an article. The difference is you send your newsletter out and your blog waits to be discovered.
26 Blog Posts to Write Before Your Competitors Do…(with Examples)
4) An Album of Complementary Photos
Dollar Photo Club is the BEST place to get images to use in my newsletter aside from my own photos. I like Dollar Photo Club because I pay for the image which makes its a clean-cut transaction where I don’t step on someone’s toes. You won’t run into copyright issues or upset someone because you stole their image. iStockphoto.com used to be my go-to place for finding images. They just got too expensive for providing me with a good supply of images.
You can resort to using your own photos. If you take lots of them, good for you. I just can’t keep up with my own demand. So, stock photos work great for me.
You can use flickr as well though I’ve completely struggled on how to use their images, giving credit to the owner and sizing it to fit my blog.
5) A Commitment, A Re-Commitment
You have to commit. I’m actually recommitting because getting a newsletter together isn’t simple.
- You have to do something no less than once a month or you will be forgotten, ignored or worse.
- Oh, trust me, it’s a struggle to get this baby out. I stay up late, fit it in between client work, try to get an advanced start, work through illness, skip meals. I’m expecting it to get better. I know it will. But, I’m committed. Your kind words spur me on. And, when you cry “uncle”, I’ll stop.
Good luck! Let’s see what happens.
Honestly, one of the most annoying habits of my college-aged niece and my high school-aged nephews is their near refusal to answer the phone. Texting seems to elicit better responses, albeit, sometimes not as much or as often as I’d like. I know they’re actively in touch with their peers. I guess I have to accept that their aunt is lower on the totem pole.
So, if you’re employing Millennials, consider that their similar communications habits. In a world overrun with 50 ways to communicate, they are dependent on their ability to control their world, starting with the phone. I admit I don’t like the constant disruption of the phone, either. It breaks concentration when uninterrupted, focused time is a precious commodity these days. That’s a lesson for all of us.
Hey, maybe these whippersnappers are on to something!
“You shouldn’t be surprised that Millennials won’t answer the phone. However, their excuses might surprise you.”
Calls can sever focus, disrupt work flow, and draw people away from crucial projects.
- Texting allows users to respond at a convenient time between tasks.
Calls presume that the person you are calling should drop everything and adhere to your agenda.
- Texting (like email) is passive communication that doesn’t presume a real-time interaction.
Calls give the perception of more airtime, so callers can neglect to gather the necessary information up front and will talk out loud until they land on the intended message.
- Texting forces you to put your thoughts into words, which can be edited or condensed, and allows you to communicate the essential information for maximum efficiency.
Missed calls result in phone tag, a supremely idiotic and unnecessary game in an age of bountiful communication alternatives.
The time costs of a “quick five-minute call” can exceed 20 minutes, including the salutations, pleasantries, small talk, goodbyes, and time it takes to refocus on the original task, which, some experts say, can take 23 minutes after a disruption.
- Texting limits unnecessary salutations and the exchange of irrelevant information, and the time cost can be as low as a few seconds
Probably time for older employers to adapt to their employees behavior. At the same time, I hope Millennials realize, soon, that texting lacks tone and sometimes you need tone to make sense of what’s being communicated. That’s not a bad two-way street.
Source: 5 Reasons Millennials Aren’t Answering Your Phone Call | Inc.com
Take an honest assessment of where your business is today. Get out a piece of paper (or an electronic doc) and make note of what you need to: Start doing Stop doing Continue doing based on last year’s results. What’s not working in your marketing activities? Where are you dropping the ball with customers? How can you improve your profit margin? This one step alone will make a huge difference in creating new strategies and action steps for the coming year.
Source: Is Your Business Ready for 2016?
If you’ve read the EMyth or follow any of their advice, you know how valuable and wise Michael Gerber’s former organization is. I know I’m already looking ahead to 2016, making plans and charting my course.
In the linked article, there’s great advice about not just skipping the last 2 months of the year but using it to reflect and map out your business’ plans for the 2016 into 2018.
One of the many great pieces of advice:
- Start doing
- Stop doing (emphasis added)
- Continue doing based on last year’s results
If you’re feeling out of tune with your company’s direction or are overwhelmed with the details of running your business everyday, you owe it to yourself and to your customers to have a plan. Planning always gets pushed aside for the urgent. Planning isn’t urgent but it’s necessary. I guess I’m in the same boat as all of you. Time to book some library time for myself and plot a course for 2016.
Almost every company has its critics, and now they have access to social media and comment sections.
Source: The Loudest Consumers Don’t Always Represent the Majority
My clients and colleagues who are small business owners frequently whine to me about Yelp. They feel bullied by Yelp and bullied by reviews. Some even refuse to claim their listing to avoid the feedback…despite Yelp’s power of driving customers to their business.
Heed these words:
Before you oil the squeaky wheel, here are some things to keep in mind about the vocal minority — those online customers, trolls and/or community members who have big mouths, but don’t actually represent the sentiments of the group.
Just because certain customers are “loud” and they are consistent in posting or sending you feedback, it doesn’t mean that they represent the feelings of your wider base of customers or fans.
In fact, many of the folks who complain actually don’t have a lot of purchasing power and some of them aren’t your customers at all.
Many customers complain in online forums and on social platforms more often than they give praise.
In communities, the masses tend to ignore responding to the critics to save themselves from headaches.
If you get negative feedback, respond to it. Be responsive? Yes. Be pushed? No. Don’t let someone else’s vision of your business drive your business.
One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “What kind of marketing do you do?” My response? The kind of marketing that makes sense for my client. It’s just marketing. Just marketing for your local small business’ success.
It’s so easy to be dazzled by buzzwords: social marketing, SEO, pay per click, email marketing, direct mail. Business owners fill their heads with information about Facebook and Google and newspaper specialty inserts and sports program ads and mobile search and on and on. I mean sometimes..it’s just EXHAUSTING.
Let’s clear it up. Those are communication channels for marketing, an array of ways to reach your prospects and clients. You’re ending up with your head on fire mostly because all the “advice” you’re getting isn’t taking into account the fundamentals. The medium and methods may have changed but these questions haven’t:
- Who is your client?
- What are their problems?
- And, how can you help them?
- How do you let them know you can help them?
- Where can you find them?
Answer those questions and you’re ready to market. While you’re lamenting over the perfect marketing method, you’re missing out on you’re real mission:
Find clients. Make money.
Frequently, I tell my clients to just start marketing. I will meet you where you are. That means it’s time to take your local business’ marketing and just start executing.
Mike Brooks advises at Business2Community website how foolish it is for small business owners to throw out the basic tenets of marketing in favor of “buzzword” marketing like social media marketing, Facebook marketing, content marketing.
“Money loves speed”
“I love this statement. Coined by a long time friend of mine, I use it often. What this means is that procrastination due to a desire for perfection is the enemy of action. And action is what breeds results. Most people are so hung up on wanting to make whatever they are doing – a website, a blog post, a marketing piece – perfect that they never launch anything. Or it takes 10 times as long.”
I’ve had a lot of success working with clients who had no logo, a bad website but a motivation to succeed. Succeed they did. You can, too!