Willie Nelson sang “You’re always on my mind….”, and as a business owner – that’s just what you want to be, in a good way.
Let’s talk about that hypothetical outdoor power equipment store that I seem to love to pick on.
Why does that outdoor power business need a newsletter? I don’t mean just an email newsletter, but a printed newsletter that’s mailed monthly.
I can give you at least 5 reasons, but today, I’ll spare you a little and just go over reason number 1: Top of mind consciousness.
Sounds great, but what is it? Believe it or not, just being there…often!
Why? Because more so today than yesterday, and less so today than tomorrow:
- People are busy.
- Competitors are aggressive.
- Client loyalty is typically invisible, unless you’ve cultivated it and constantly worked at it.
As hard as it may be for a business owner to believe, studies have shown that the number one reason given by consumers NOT returning to a business is: “I just didn’t think about them.”
It’s been proven that simply by frequently reminding customers of your existence, you AUTOMATICALLY increase business and thus, increase customer value. Why? How?
- It reduces ‘spreading my business around’
- It allows you to ‘Cross-sell’? different products & services you think they know about (they don’t, trust me)
- It strengthens your relationship, creating obligation and eventually, loyalty
- It counters competitors’ seductive messages and offers
When people who own a snowblower, snowmobile (folks around here call them a “snowcat” or a “snowmachine”), chain saw, lawn mower, riding lawn mower, garden tractor, weed whacker or similar equipment, ONE thing is critical – when your existing or prospective clients need something for their power equipment, you’d better be the name they think of.
Not Wal-Mart. Not Lowe’s. Not Home Depot. Not Ace.
You, a staff member at your shop, and your outdoor power equipment store need to be the first thing they think of.
- You aren’t the one with the everyday low prices, always.
- You aren’t the big flashy brand-building commercials during American Idol.
- You aren’t the one with the big orange store, nice people in tv commercials in the orange vests, etc.
- You aren’t the place with the helpful hardware man.
By the way, it doesn’t matter if you own a software business, florist, tire store, brake shop, legal office or coffee shop – this still applies to YOUR business.
Why? You aren’t living in the movie “Field of Dreams”, your business isn’t a baseball field in an Iowa cornfield and you aren’t Kevin Costner: You CAN’T expect to “build it and they will come”.
Ideally, you want to position your business so that you are the FIRST one they think of when they need services and products like those offered by your business.
How do you do that? One way is a newsletter, and I think you need a print newsletter and an email newsletter to do the job properly.
Why? They serve different purposes, plus they help you be sure that you have all the contact information you need in the event that you need to sell your business, or contact the fiercely loyal, enthusiast buyers about a new 30 horsepower riding mower with candy apple red paint and gold pinstripes. Obviously, there are plenty of other reasons as well.
Bankers might look at a customer list (with full contact information) of 4500 active, regular buyers and call it “goodwill” with an equity value of $0, but a smart buyer will wisely put a lot bigger value on it. That’s the hidden gold, if you know how to use it. Newsletters help keep that info current, and those buyers active.
The email newsletter is great for a series of “how to” articles, notification about time-sensitive news or short-term promotions and the like. Thing is, email’s nature limits who can receive it. In addition, it is constantly faced with delivery issues, including regular email address changes, infrequent email readers, spam filters and so on.
Look, an email newsletter is very effective for the right kind of client and the right kind of information, so don’t bail out on it. Just don’t depend on it and nothing else.
Print newsletters, on the other hand, are ideal for making regular contact with EVERY client you have. Sure, you have to pay to have them printed and mailed, but you also know they are getting delivered. It’s another touch and no matter what the age or computer prowess of your clientÃ¨le – it’ll get read, unless it suffers from the 2 big newsletter mistakes: sending a newsletter that is nothing but sales pitch, and sending a newsletter that’s a bore.
Don’t get caught by the “But Mark, email is free” trap. Yes, it’s free (or close) to send a zillion emails but it doesn’t matter if they don’t reach their destination or no one reads them. You need BOTH.
Of course, the bigger mistake is not having any newsletter.
See, there are two assumptions (big mistakes, actually) that businesses make when they blow off having a newsletter:
- “My customers know who I am, what I do, and where I am. They’ll call me or come in when they need me.’
If you read my print newsletter this month, you know that isn’t true and that I proved it to a business owner whose business has been open for decades.
- “An email newsletter is fine, I don’t need to spend money mailing to my clients.”