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Are newsletters worth the time, effort and money?
You can be sure that it takes a lot of work to get newsletters out to a client list on a consistent basis. So how do you determine if this is a good investment for your company?
Types of consumers
Your answer depends on what type of customers you are trying to attract. There are two types of clients you may work with: Frequent and occasional.
Frequent consumers tend to have their carpet cleaned every year or two and want a company that they can call on year after year. They often find service providers by seeking referrals and desire good value over lowest price. These are usually the most desirable and profitable customers.
Occasional users, on the other hand, have their carpet cleaned infrequently. These consumers are focused on solving an immediate cleaning need, and it will be a long time before they use this service again. They find service companies by comparing advertisements to find the best deal. This type of consumer makes up the vast majority of cleaning customers.
If most of your new customers are coming to you through advertising, then other forms of follow-up such as post cards and flyers with special offers may be more effective than newsletters.
However, if you are building a repeat and referral clientele, then consumer newsletters should become the backbone of your follow-up system. Your customers are looking for a long-term relationship with your company; a consumer newsletter is a powerful tool for developing this. Expect a great payoff for the money and effort you invest.
Building relationships with your customers benefits you by encouraging valuable referrals. These come from building loyalty, establishing trust and informing consumers of other services you provide.
Styles of newsletters
Newsletters need to be professional, well designed and carefully edited. A newsletter is a reflection of your company; be sure it reflects it positively.
Newsletters fall into three basic categories. The one you choose depends on what you want to accomplish.
Category #1: Personal/folksy
A personal or folksy newsletter contains information about company owners, their families and employees. The power of this style is that it conveys the personality of the company. Topics include personal and company histories, recipes, contests, trivia and photographs. Community events and customer recognition add to the sense of company involvement.
This style must be written and designed by people from the company. Time is a big investment for this type of newsletter and writing skills are required.
Customers usually find this style entertaining. Tremendous loyalty can be won if they grow to like you in a personal way.
Category #2: Purchased/corporate
If you choose to purchase this style of pre-designed newsletter, you will have a product that is generally more polished in its appearance than a self-produced one. They are usually printed in color on a higher grade of paper and look very professional. They can be branded to your company, but customers generally get the sense that someone else made the newsletter.
The articles can relate to the services you provide or they can include other topics that might interest the consumer.
These newsletters look appealing and inform customers of other services and special offers you provide. Customers generally appreciate the information given and don’t assume that you are just trying to sell them on your company.
Category #3: Your expertise
An expertise-focused newsletter powerfully positions you as the expert in your field. Consumers assume you are the author of the informative and relevant articles. They conclude that if you can clearly communicate about your services, you must be an expert. This style explains and justifies why you are worth more than other companies.
Though they may be purchased, these newsletters are branded to your company. They have more of a desktop-published appearance in order to convey the idea that they are from you. The “slick” look of the purchased style mentioned above does not work well here.
It is generally best to purchase this type of newsletter, rather than produce it yourself, unless in fact you are an outstanding writer, are truly an expert your field and have the time needed to produce it.
Ideally, send your newsletters out quarterly. Doing so more often diminishes their effectiveness. A good follow-up system also includes as variety of elements such as reminder, thank you, and holiday/greeting cards.
Consistency is important. Consumers sense when newsletters don’t arrive on a regular basis. A follow-up system is more effective when materials go out on schedule.
Hand out your current newsletter to each consumer to whom you would hand a business card. Most of your competitors don’t have one and this will help you stand out from the crowd.
It pays to invest in a good newsletter. Printing and postage represent the biggest expenses of sending one out. It is not worth skimping on the investment of production. A better newsletter produces far better results.
Newsletters should not be evaluated by how many jobs they directly produce, as other advertising is measured. Their value should be determined by the increase in repeat customers, referrals and the amount on your average invoice.
Be sure to mail a hard copy via the U.S. Postal Service. Electronic distribution is fine as a supplemental distribution method but it should not replace the mailed version. The point of marketing is to get a good return for your investment, not to find the cheapest way.
Build repeat and referral clientele
A good consumer newsletter is your most powerful tool for building a repeat and referral clientele.
Long-term clients are developed by building relationships. This tool is worth the trouble and investment to make it happen.
Steve Marsh is the creator of the Be Competition Free Marketing Program. He is a 30-year veteran of the carpet cleaning industry, an IICRC-approved instructor and a Senior Carpet Inspector. Marsh is a marketing and business consultant who provides a turn-key program for attracting better customers. For more information, log on to www.BeCompetitionFree.com.