Newsletters are effective lead generators when you already have a list of past business contacts. What? You don’t have a list? Well, I guess we need to talk about that real soon. Until then, read on.
Newsletters are a great way to stay in touch, and to remind people you are in business. They are particularly useful when clients need you on an occasional basis. In those cases, you want to be top of mind when the next need arises.
Newsletters can be printed, digital, or both. Most are short, typically 1-4 pages. For printed newsletters, the format is often fixed, while digital newsletters are more flexible. Digital versions, of course, are cheaper as they have virtually no printing or distribution costs.
As a result, digital newsletters are very popular, and are often used as list bait on blogs and web sites. This can be effective in further developing your list. The key to success is to make sure your newsletter is newsworthy for your readers.
If you don’t feel up to publishing your own newsletter, prepared ones can be purchased. For example, my accountant sends a newsletter with general business and financial tips. He does not write it, but his name and company information appear on the masthead.
Incidentally, my accountant’s newsletter is printed. I like that, as I can take it with me and read it on the next flight to somewhere. After I’m done, I often pass it along to others. Of course, his name gets passed along as well. No, print media is NOT dead.
Here is my own newsletter story. After about two years in business, we realized we needed a way to keep in touch with our existing clients in a proactive way. So we started a newsletter for our friends, clients, and colleagues. Since this was pre-Internet, the newsletter was printed.
We decided to publish it four times a year. The pleasant surprise was that every time it hit the streets, the phone would ring with a new job or two. The newsletter was actually paying for itself! How great is that?
Over twenty years later, we still publish it, but now only twice a year. We eventually went electronic, giving readers the option to receive it by snail mail. The current split is about 50/50, so don’t dismiss printed versions. Although a bit expensive, we feel it is worth it.
We experimented with format, and settled on a formula. That made it easier to write, as we now just “fill in the blanks.” We decided on four pages. To see actual copies, you can click here. (We archived the past 20 years on our web site – great for credibility!)
- Front page - Short introduction, upcoming industry events, and a paragraph or two on some item of interest, often about our services.
- Pages 2 and 3 – First, a focus article, much like a blog post. Second, brief items of interest such as a book review or perhaps a client question (sanitized of course.) Third, some tidbits (Bullets) and finally, some “engineering humor”.
- Page 4 - Summary of our services, contact information, and a copy of a business card advertisement we run in the technical magazines. As the newsletter is folded, half of page 4 is for addressing.
Finally, you don’t need to wait to try a newsletter. As mentioned other places, I started two newsletters as a Sales Engineer in the big-corporate world. Both were targeted at my customers, who liked them and gave me positive feedback. They also let me work out the kinks for my consulting newsletter.
As an aside, when I offered these newsletters to our corporate marketers, they were rejected. Both cases of NIH (not invented here), I suppose. But that also reinforced my belief that most big company marketers are not entrepreneurs, and often do not fully understand the sales process.
There are exceptions, of course – Guy Kawasaki, formerly of Apple Computer, comes to mind as one of the good guys. (Great website and insights, too.) Not to be too harsh, but if you are with a big company, you may want to divest yourself of many of your big company ideas before you make your JumpToConsulting.
Questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you.
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