As you know, customers rarely buy the first time they come across you.
Perhaps it’s not the right time. Maybe they need more evidence to know, like and trust you. Or they could simply have stumbled across your business whilst browsing or checking out the competition.
Whatever the reason, this fact has important consequences for how you run your micro business. It means that where possible, you should take steps to try and build a relationship that over the longer term will convert into a sale.
Now the starting point for that is to collect contact details. Then moving on, you need to figure out a robust strategy to nurture that relationship and stay on your customers’ radar.
So how do you achieve that?
You could use an autoresponder sequence. Or perhaps email subscribers your blog posts. You could engage on social media or post direct mail. You could even publish an email newsletter. These are all proven strategies that can help you establish your business with a potential customer as “the one to go to” when they are ready to buy.
But are these the most effective methods? Or is there something even more powerful?
What’s the problem with email?
As a cost conscious micro business owner, it’s very tempting to choose the most inexpensive way to get your message out there. And that’s part of the attraction of email. After all it’s cheap, extremely quick to send and because there’s no print turnaround you can think of an idea, and get it emailed out today. Brilliant.
In addition, with the likes of email service providers such as MailChimp and Aweber, it’s super easy to design something that’s branded and actually looks good. What’s more, tracking software allows you to monitor open rates etc. so you can test the performance of each campaign. It seems like an obvious choice.
However, email does have some distinct disadvantages. For example:
- Can you write a strong enough headline to get it opened?
- Is your audience engaged enough to want to read yet another email newsletter?
- If it does get opened, will your reader properly absorb the content?
- It’s got a very short shelf-life.
- It’s easily deleted.
- Everyone uses it!
So although communicating with someone through their inbox is far more intimate and personal than say social media, it’s still a cut-throat place to be. There’s just no guarantee your content will get read.
Introducing printed newsletters
So are printed newsletters a better alternative for getting in front of potential customers?
Some thought leaders like Dan Kennedy and Nigel Botterill would argue “yes”.
In fact, Entrepreneur Circle founder Nigel Botterill says that printed newsletters are “the single most effective tool to build relationships with customers“.
It’s a strong assertion, but here’s the evidence:
- Print has a higher perceived value than email – so what impact could this have on your brand?
- Print has a longer shelf-life. Assuming your newsletter is good, it’s likely to stick around a lot longer than an emailed equivalent. For example, your recipient may keep it on their desk – and how powerful is that for staying on their radar?
- A good newsletter should be an extension of your content marketing strategy. Your shouldn’t overtly try to advertise or sell. Instead focus on adding value to your customer by sharing useful, relevant, quality content. Offer advice and tips, answer questions and share your personality. Do this and in turn your newsletter will help you establish trust and build relationships.
- A good printed newsletter is incredibly powerful at establishing credibility and building your reputation as an expert. And for a micro business owner this is powerful. If you can become the “one to go to” in your niche, your opportunities for growing your business and even raising your prices just multiplied.
How to succeed with printed newsletters
Without question printed newsletters are going to cost more than an email equivalent. That’s because you’ll have to take into account design, print and even postage. However, don’t let those upfront costs put you off without exploring the idea first.
But to make your newsletter work, you will need to give some serious thought to:
- The design
- The content (it simple has to be good – print rubbish content and you’re wasting your time)
- What your target market / customer avatar wants to read
- Your objectives for creating a newsletter
- Its name & publishing frequency
- How you will collect the required contact details to send it out
- Who will print it etc.
Get your strategy and approach right, and you’ve got more chance of making it work.
Some real life case studies
I did some research to discover how printed newsletters are benefitting fellow business owners. Here are three examples:
1. Childcare Matters – Sian Nisbett
Dizzy Ducks runs nurseries and out of school clubs in Essex and Suffolk. Owner Sian Nisbett produces a regular 8 page newsletter called Childcare Matters. She’s been publishing since September 2011 and now has an established format that works. There’s always a lead article by Sian that starts on the front cover and extends over half of page 2. This is an opinion piece on a topical issue. Then inside content includes children’s birthdays, a welcome to new families, congratulations to children that have become big brothers or sisters, a parenting article, an “ask the doctor” article about a relevant childhood illness, plus lots of photos.
In terms of the business benefits, Sian says “it’s building relationships with our families and they love seeing their children inside the newsletter. In addition, Childcare Matters has given us leverage“.
2. The Flyer by Super Accountant Annette Ferguson
Super Accountant Annette Ferguson started publishing The Flyer on a monthly basis back in November 2012. Annette targets business owners and entrepreneurs who are looking to grow their business and understand that working with a good accountant can help them do that.
Annette says “I started The Flyer to help me build a stronger bond with my clients, and attract new ones through giving extra value“. I want people to think “I just can’t use anyone else“. And here’s the proof it works. Recipient and social media queen Veronica Pullen says “I’ve not yet hired an accountant, but receiving Annette’s monthly newsletters have already added value to my business. She will be the first person I call when I am ready to take that step“
The Flyer is 8 pages, takes around 3 hours to complete and contains a mix of accounting/finance information, a grow your business piece, a guest blogger each month, and general business info.
3. Investor’s Insight by UK Bullion dealer Siam Kidd
Finally Siam Kidd, publishes Investor’s Insight to help promote ukBullionDirect.com – the UK’s No.1 Bullion dealer for small investors. In short, customers can get pure investment grade gold or silver bullion delivered directly to their doorstep. The target market is for working professionals with at least £150 per month to invest as an alternative to parking it in a substandard pension or savings account. Siam uses his newsletter to keep his his clients updated with what’s going on in the world markets. He finds it “generates credibility and is an effective way to stay connected“.
Investor’s Insight contains a front page article, world update, gold and silver update, Siam’s Soapbox (time for a rant) section, a mistake corner, reader stories/feedback and the back page is interactive content.
How could you use a printed letter in your micro business?
Marketing your micro business is a challenge. After all there is so much you could do, and you probably have limited time and a finite budget. The key is to know your marketing objective so you can pick the media that perfectly matches your market and your message.
So whilst at first glance you may dismiss printed newsletters as an expensive even unnecessary luxury, why not take a closer look today and see what potential they have to help you outsmart your competition.
Today’s Micro Action
How could you integrate a printed newsletter into your micro business marketing strategy? Take some time today to get clear on your objectives, plan your content and figure out whether the benefits are worth your time and budget.