Launch Your Local Business’ Email Newsletter in 5 Steps

This Is How You Build A List

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.

Is Your Business Ready for 2016?

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:

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 (emphasis added)
  • 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.

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.

It’s The Message, Not The Media, That Matters


message in a bottle

Message Is Not The Media

A Great Local Marketing Messaging Cuts Across All Media Channels
It’s tempting with all the new marketing channels created by the Internet to get caught up in the hype of the latest and greatest toy.  Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Reddit, Instagram, SnapChat seem like huge engines to get your local business notices.  No doubt, your social media toy is shiny and cool. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is talking about Facebook and Twitter. You cannot turn anywhere and miss the conversation about them.  But, those are the media channel from which you communicate.  The media is the means to get your message out, the way to interact.  Your MESSAGE is why they engage with you.

Without your strong relevant message and/or noteworthy activities like client successes or new products, it will not matter what media you choose for your marketing. Think of it like the news. While the news can be crazily sensational, it constantly piques your interest.  You can pique prospects’ interest if you have a great, interesting, compelling message.

In ancient times, storytellers told tales and lessons from ancestors.  The town crier delivered news of the day and messages from the leaders.  In some cultures, there were drums delivering information.  Stone tablets were another favorite from the Bible.  Then, we evolved to pen and paper.  That guy, Guttenberg, changed the whole world with a printing press, creating mass media nearly overnight.

Throughout the evolution of communication from the stone tablets, printing press to Internet-driven citizen journalists and content publishers, it’s the story, the substance, the essence that have mattered most to the recipient of the message.  The method (AKA as the media) of message delivery is not doubt a big deal.  While television networks, radio stations and networks, newspapers (until recently), printers and Internet companies are HUGE businesses, they only deliver news and messages created by others.

The Truth of Messaging

Your local business marketing message has to pique a prospect’s interest. They are not robots. They want to be excited. They are curious. They want to feel safe. Message matters because however a prospect encounters you, they want to know what you do, what you think and how your business can help them.

It is ESSENTIAL for a service-based companies to have a strong message. You have no product that your prospect can hold and they really, really have to trust you to buy from you

Think about your own experience. What’s the last thing you bought? How did it catch your eye? Why that product? Why not something else? Why are you spending your money there? Use that experience to think about what message “they” sold you on and use it to influence your message

Worried about scaring them with a “negative” message? Study after study shows that humans respond to problems better than goals. You won’t be negative or scary if you come from a genuine place of help.

3 Ways To Develop A Strong Message

Answer one of these questions. Write out your story. Cut it down to a few lines or just one. Tell that story to everyone.

  • What problems do you solve for your clients?
    • List them out
    • See if you can consolidate them into several major themes
    • Keep in mind that clients will pay for results.  So what results can you deliver?
  • What successes have your clients had from working with you?
    • Along the lines of results, what numbers or statistics did you clients achieve.
    • Think of what happened when they came to you, what you did and what happened from working with you.
    • You can deliver that story in about 3-5 lines.
  • What is the most passionate, core idea of your business? What motivates you?
    • You probably give free advice.  That’s your passion.
    • Your passion drives the free advice – a belief that everyone deserves….(fill in the blank)
    • What would you stand on a soap box and tell anyone who’ll listen about your profession.

With a strong message, you’ll find others responding to you and trying to help you because they understand you. After all, isn’t that what we all want? A little understanding.

120 Ways To Get Readers To Your Local Business Blog. Juice It Up!

Give your blog juice

Given the explosion of blogs and bloggers, you probably think you’re going to get lost in a churning sea of information.  That’s entirely possible.  But, there are some things you can to do pull your blog into the boat and save yourself from drowning or  getting lost at sea.

Why should you blog?  For local businesses it’s a surprisingly good way of adding “juice” to your website.  Google’s algorithm (the formula for delivering results) is constantly on the hunt for three things: 1) relevance, 2) freshness, and 3) connection.  When you blog, you do all of those, making it far more likely that your business will turn up in the highly coveted organic results.  Remember, Google wants  be the go-to search engine so they give you results that really match your query.  Then, the look for websites that are tended to.  A blog shows that you tend your website without you constantly having to update your other pages.  As far as connections go, the algorithm looks for social media connections and links.  Comments go along ways to.  See if you can solicit comments from some of your fans and remember to post your blog to your Facebook Fan Page.

In this infographic, that’s intended for new local business blogs, there’s great advice for both new and experienced bloggers to get discovered by Google.  Of course, Google isn’t the only search engine but it’s used by 70% – 80% of all users.  So it’s the 800-lb gorilla in the room.  It cannot be ignored.  Appealing to Google is the best way to juice up your blog.

 

120 Marketing Tactics for New Blogs

Infographic by Digital Philippines

Are You The Networker From Hell?

Networker From Hell

 

Have you ever attended a networking event where someone just went up and shoved a business card or flyer in your hand?

I had a guy at a chamber mixer start talking to me about freestanding saunas and telling me that I should have one, that it was only $6,000 to buy one and all the health benefits. I kept trying to get a word in and tell him that I hated saunas because I feel claustrophobic in them. How did he know that’s where I wanted to spend my money or if I had the room?  It was annoying and funny at the same time. He was just clueless.

Don’t be THAT guy!

The Achilles’ heel of networking is too many people expecting too much in a short amount of time. Marketing and relationship-building is an investment.  Networking in an investment.  People you meet are not ATMs.  They are people craving connection.  The first thing to deliver is openness, genuine curiosity and authenticity.

My friend, master networker, Kristy Rogers of Kristy Rogers Connects, teaches her clients how to be a pleasure to do business with.  Every step of interacting with other people should be a pleasure.  That’s not stiff, boring or clinical.  It’s authentic, warm, caring.  Isn’t that what we want in the human experience anyways?

Ivan Meisner, Founder of BNI (Business Networking International) , wrote recently in Entrepreneur magazine online:

Many people rely on referrals from others as a primary source of business. However, not everyone who relies on referrals is successful. Why is this? I’ve studied these folks — and those who are not successful seem to have “surface level” referral relationships.

They know just enough about their referral sources’ businesses to get by. They don’t actually know a lot about the people themselves. They tend to say vague things like: “He is really nice,” “You’ll like her; she’s a good person,” or “Well, if you just meet with him, I am sure you’ll like him.” If pressed further, they probably couldn’t tell you much more about those people — and they almost certainly have not built enough social capital with them to count on them when they really need something from the relationship (and vice versa).

Most people go to a networking event to “meet” people.  So many think “meet” means get sales, failing to realize that marketing is like dating.  If the guy wants to marry you on the first date, RUN!  He’s probably a stalker or remaking an episode of Criminal Minds. If  you don’t date like that, why do you market like that?

Before you become the Networker From Hell, consider this:

5 Do’s and Don’ts To Being A Pleasure to Network With
It’s time to have a little fun, support the group that’s running it, try out some wine, get some good food and meet people like you would at a social function…within limits like staying sober and not being obnoxious.

1) Go to network with an open heart
I had a business coach who would ask me after every event if who I met was a lead or not.  I DID NOT  like that.  How should I know?  I had met them for a few minutes, I had no idea.  BUT, I did know that would meet for coffee or a chat on the phone and figure out how we could help each other.  Maybe we couldn’t.  Maybe they were someone who could help me or I could refer them.  I just didn’t know until I talked with them more.  All I’ve ever wanted to do is meet great people. I’ve learned…Don’t judge a book by it’s cover and been surprised…a lot!

2) Be genuinely curious
Ever heard this before? Act like the host.  Most people don’t know what that means.  To me, you just ask good, open-ended questions and pepper in some conversation extenders like:

  • “What do you do?”
  • “Tell me more about that.”
  • “How did you get into your business?”
  • “What were you doing before your current job?”
  • “What’s the best part of your business?”
  • “Where else are you networking?”
  • “That sounds good.” “I never thought of it like that.”

You don’t have to be fake.  It’s just like meeting a new friend.

3) Don’t drink too much.  Stay away from hot-button issues?
Oh, regrets.  I’ve had a few.  Being tipsy at a business function has never served me well.  So, I won’t drink at networking functions anymore. But, staying away from hot-button issues?  I’ve had some great conversations when disagreeing with others.  I look for people who have a strong opinion.  It doesn’t faze me.   Do what fits your style and taste.  You may not like to be so outgoing.  That’s okay.  As long as it’s not insulting, I think having a different idea is good.  Either way, just don’t be afraid to be yourself.

4) Commit to get deeper
Someday you’ll have to ask Speaking Guru, Lynn Kirkham of Yes! You Can Speak, about our initial deep conversation.  The amount of people we had in common was astonishing!  We discovered we had a mutual good friend (to both of us) and we called her from my cell phone but Lynn was speaking.  Our friend was soooo confused…at first.  After that, Lynn and I quickly bonded.  It just took a while for us to get really deep.  The more we got to know each other, the more we strengthened our friendship and business relationship, to do business with each other.  Getting deep can create incredible referral sources for us and create wonderful friends.

5) Be in it for the long haul
Getting referrals, good ones, takes time.  Having great connections takes time.  Go to your networking knowing you want to meet quality people that see it like you do…long-term.  In the “marketing is like dating”, it may not be marriage but a steady long-lasting relationship is an beautiful outcome.
See.  You can save yourself from becoming the Networker From Hell and be a pleasure to network with.  Just need a little gumption and commitment!