Friday, October 15, 2010

3 Reasons Why Every Business Needs A Newsletter

There are many benefits you and your business can reap from publishing your own newsletter.

1. Keeping In Touch -- Your customers and clients are the lifeblood of your business. What better way to stay in touch with your existing customers than through a newsletter? A newsletter allows you to add personal touches to your relationship and celebrate milestones, both your own and your client's. In addition to furthering your relationship with your clients, a newsletter can also allow you to introduce new products, offer special sales or discounts to your existing client base, and encourage referrals.

2. Hook In New Customers -- Unless they have an immediate need or came to you through a powerful referral, most potential customers won't buy right away. Often they will shop around and compare which means you will likely never see them again. However if you have a free newsletter that offers interested clients the opportunity to learn more about you, your business, and your products for free and they can also learn more about your interaction with your existing customers. A newsletter can be a very simple strategy to turn a one-time visitor into a lifetime customer.

3. Establish Your Expertise -- No one knows more about your business than you do which makes you an expert. Likely the construction of your own business has further left you with a great deal of expertise in your field. Share your nuggets of knowledge through your newsletter to deepen your relationship with your existing customers and convince potential customers that you are the answer to their problems.

Now that I have convinced you that you need to publish your own newsletter, I want to go over a few questions that budding editors and publishers always ask.

What exactly is an electronic newsletter?

Just like their paper counterparts, electronic newsletters deliver written messages usually relating to a common theme or topic. The main difference is that an electronic newsletter transcends paper and ink and most likely only ever exists on a computer screen.

Some electronic newsletter are delivered only via email while others are delivered only on the web. Most are delivered in some combination of the two. Most of my ezines and newsletters are delivered via email but also available immediately via web page (or rather blog page) and RSS feed.

You can choose the method is most suited to you and your audience.

How do you publish an electronic newsletter?

It is much easier to start publication of your own electronic newsletter than it is to start up a print publication. You simply need to decide on a topic, name your publication and start writing. It is easy to find an audience (beyond your own customer base if you choose) through the various ezine and newsletter directories around the internet as well as going directly to the source, for example discussion boards for people interested in your topic.

You will need to determine a delivery method, which means most likely setting up your own web site or page on your existing web site; creating an archive for your issues once they are created, which could mean setting up a blog; and tracking your readers, which likely means setting up a mailing or autoresponder service. However you can use free tools to do any of these things.

Choosing A Name For Your Company... That Makes Sense...

One of the most important things your company needs is a name. Your name will be the very first thing that almost all of your customers see from you -- long before they meet you, they'll have responded to something (or someone) that told them the name of your business.

So What?

So, if you're planning on running a professional operation, don't call it 'A1 Supplies' just because you want to be listed first in the phone book. You have to pick a name that says something about you and your business, and that people in your target market will be able to say without feeling stupid.

The Professional Name.

If you're running a serious business targeted at other businesspeople, you'll probably want to keep the name sober, but memorable. A good formula is your surname, followed by what you do: 'Smithfield Tailoring', or 'Watson Engineering'. You might also want to add the name of the town where you live: 'Watson Engineering Anytown'. Little things can make a big difference: 'Watson & Associates Engineering' or 'Watson Engineering Co.' both sound quite good, for example. Don't use your first name, though -- it sounds terribly amateurish. Would you rather deal with Ted's Office Supplies or the Johansson Office Supplies Co.?

Another approach is to leave out your name altogether, and simply become 'Anytown Engineers' or 'The Anytown Engineering Co.'. This makes you sound like the first choice locally, especially if your main competitor has the name of another town nearby in their name.

The Corporate Name.

They sound quite bad, I reckon, but there's a still a place for them -- mainly if you want to deal with the big companies that this kind of name appeals to. Simply think of a word to describe your business and translate it into Latin. Then add the word "Consulting", if you want.

The Trendy Name.

If you're going for a more young or technology-savvy market, you might want a less formal name. Names of this form should be kept to one word, and preferably written in lowercase, URL-style. Another common trick is to make '.com' part of the name. Notice the difference between 'Fun House' and 'funhouse.com' -- the Fun House doesn't sound all that much fun, does it?

The Playful Name.

You'll be surprised how many people will love your name if you just decide to name it after an animal, and use that animal in your logo too. If you don't have much of a marketing budget, this is a good way to get a quick brand identity -- if you choose the panda, for example, then people start associating you with pandas, and you can have panda-pattern designs on your stationery and decorate your office with bamboo. Don't underestimate the power of this, seriously.

The Shortened Name.

One naming method that seems to be especially well-used by the big hitters is to take two words that describe your business, shorten them both, and make it one word. So you end up with Fedex (Federal Express), or Microsoft (Microcomputer Software). This is good for suggesting what you do without having an overly lengthy name.

The Random Name.

If all else fails, a great way to make up a name is to just string together sounds that you like until you come up with a made-up word. This can be a surprisingly good way to come up with a name -- and it will be completely unique.

Make It Easy.

Whatever you do, though, make sure your business' name is easy to pronounce and spell. If your surname is hard to say, don't use it. If people seem to have trouble spelling a made-up word, come up with something easier. You'll lose out on an enormous amount of word-of-mouth business if people have to write your name down just to communicate it to each other.

Check for Others.

Once you've got some ideas, make sure you check that no-one else is already using them. It will be expensive to get halfway through starting up a company only to find that the name you wanted is already taken. Also, you'll have trouble establishing any kind of Internet prescence with an over-used name, if that was part of your plan -- if your name is too common, you won't stand a chance of getting yourname .com.

Acquire New Business

A major part of keeping profitable and growing your business is maintaining a focus on business development. Even when you've got the right mix of work, clients and employees you should be looking for new opportunities. You could establish a process to do this whilst ensuring your existing customers don't get neglected. The process helps you manage new business opportunities in a cost- and time-effective manner.
Generate leads
Identify the types of companies you want to work with and a realistic number of companies you want to target over a given period of time. For example: an accountant with experience in the marketing industry might decide to target five opportunities per month focussed on marketing consultancies.
Finding potential clients and identifying new opportunities can be done through networking events, tenders listed in newspapers and industry magazines and headlines in newspapers about new projects and industry seminars. Keep an eye on your industry and stay aware of new developments.
Track the companies you approach in a database ( you could use Microsoft Excel or Access). Tracking should cover the obvious things (company contact details etc) as well as details of what was discussed, potential works, actions and more.
Qualify the leads
Once you have a list of identified companies you must review to ensure they are realistic opportunities. Some areas to think about include:
• Do you have the right contacts to get started?

• Do you have the right services to offer them?
• How can their website help you understand them better?
• Do you have any conflicts of interest in pursuing this company?
• Does this client have growth potential or would it be a quick job?
• Who makes the decisions? How can you reach them?
3. Raise your business profile
By raising your company profile (no matter how small you are) you'll be able to generate new business with less effort. As a leader in the industry new business will come to you. There are many ways to raise your profile; you could try sponsoring events, adverts and gaining media coverage. The size, location and target market of your business this will dictate what medium to use and the areas to cover.
4. Show them what you're made of
Start to reach your qualified opportunities by showcasing your company's products. Send them a brochure or a copy of any newsletters you produce and invite them to join; show off examples of your work; highlight relevant media articles.
Develop standard template letters in Word to send to potential clients to accompany your credentials/brochures. Ensure you link to your database (Excel, Access or Outlook) when merging the letters and envelopes to ensure you don't have to re-enter details.
There is no specified time for this courting so be patient. It could be six months before anything comes to fruition.
5. Set a meeting time
So you're in the door. Now you need to sell yourself. Tailor the meeting to suit the way you operate as a business. It could be a formal PowerPoint presentation or a discussion over coffee. You may have no choice for the style of the meeting but make sure you are comfortable and well prepared. During the meeting be sure to demonstrate the knowledge you have developed in the previous stages.
6. Follow up
You've presented your capabilities and ideas. Don't stop there. Follow up is essential. This is a major part of the process and should be taken as seriously as the other steps. You'll probably be able to build on ideas from the meeting, or you might find an interesting/relevant article or statistics you could send to re-open discussion. Even if you don't have anything to send, thank them for the opportunity.