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Marketing in tough times

In tough economic times we are told to concentrate first on our existing customers. Retaining them can insure that your business continues and survives. All business, it has been said, comes down to relationships. The question is, in these tough times, how do you reach out to customers without spending a lot of money?

One answer is the email newsletter. It's relatively inexpensive and newsletters can reach hundreds or thousands quickly. And, more importantly, they allow you to advertise your company's expertise in a useful manner. Establishing yourself as an expert in your field can get through tough times and position you for substantial growth in the future.

Effective newsletters share common traits, regardless of the industry, in three distinct areas: value, content and design. But first you should do a little pre-planning.

  • » Clearly define your goals and know how to measure them
  • » Know and write down your target audience
  • » Set a schedule for publishing
  • » If possible, personalize your newsletter

Value and content are closely related and intertwined. Value depends somewhat on the industry. But it all comes down to this: offer your readers something. A free consultation, a discount on a product or service, or a chance to attend for free an event you are hosting. These things go a long way to create value and help insure that people will continue to open and read your newsletter.

Unless you are a retailer, content is why people will open and read your newsletter. Your content has to be relevant. You are an expert at what you do. Offer tips that readers can use. Update them on important industry news and happenings around your business. Give them a reason to open your newsletter.

Content is more appealing to people when it is written in a conversational style. Don't overwrite or get too analytical. Don't offer too many statistics. If they are interested in the topic they will click a link to read more.

Design is extremely important to creating an effective newsletter. Use a minimal amount of images. Most email applications require the user to click a button to download images. Your design needs to work without them.

Limit the size of newsletters. Studies show that people will skim content and click on links that interest them. Limit your content to brief descriptions of the full article. Pique their interest and they will look further.

Studies also show that the optimal size for email newsletters is around 620 pixels wide. Remember, there are many email client applications - including web-based - and most people will use a preview pane to view your newsletter. Make it fit.

Don't let the sagging economy affect your business. Use a simple tool like an email newsletter to retain your existing customers. Offer them great content and value and let them become your sales force through referrals.



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