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Presenting the World's Cheapest Printing Press

by Grant Shippey

There is one medium out there that dwarfs print media in its circulation and intimacy, and that could target its markets far more precisely than any trade magazine with unrivalled immediacy… almost like a tap on the shoulder.

That medium is e-newsletters, probably one of the least intrusive means of delivering value to your customers and prospects on a regular basis. Sure, there’s a seedy side to the industry, with e-newsletters proliferating like fruit flies, but when done right, an e-newsletter can change your customers’ and prospects’ perception of your business.

By enabling you to include timely articles solving business problems the industry might currently be experiencing, you can show your customers that you understand them. This will reinforce their importance to you, while also attracting new prospects. In sustaining customers’ interest over time, you can build their trust in your company. And when they trust that your demonstration of value is applicable to them, they will become loyal. It’s as simple as that.

Be their source

An e-newsletter is one way to reinvent your company’s message and meet the needs of your customers, because by being a consistently knowledgeable solution provider, you will not only build the trust of your customers and prospects, but you will also become their trusted information source for the daily business problems they face. In order to achieve this, however, you will need to know your customers and their industry inside out. How is the industry doing? What are its biggest challenges? What issues do your customers face on a daily basis? By being in touch with these issues, you can define the topics that are relevant today and focus on the problems and challenges facing the industry in order to provide the right solutions. Once you know your customers, you will be able to provide them with an e-newsletter that can:

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Solve customers’ day-to-day business problem

How often have you faced an on-the-job issue others have confronted, but you weren’t sure where to turn for the solution. When you create an e-newsletter, you can change your focus from selling products and services to solving your customers’ problems. Think about what they need and give options they don’t know exist; options that are related to their every day work life.

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Keep your readers informed

A dilemma faced by most of the working world is too much information and too little time. Your e-newsletter’s job is to keep readers on top of trends and the latest developments in their industry. Provide articles covering major industry occurrences, forward thinking industry ideas, education on issues or business opportunities.

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Save time

Sifting through the vast amounts of information out there to determine what is relevant to your readers will not only save them time (and probably resources), but it will also present them with valuable information in an easy-to-read format that can be scanned quickly.

What it comes down to is consistently delivering value to customers by solving their problems, and making their job easier.
What it comes down to is consistently delivering value to customers by solving their problems, and making their job easier.

Read all about it!

A good e-newsletter will be relatively short, well organised, and regular, and will include anything and everything from industry news, features and opinions, to analyses, reports and case studies, and of course, the opportunity to give concise updates of your own products, services, and activities.

However, it is not so much what goes into the newsletter, as what it should offer readers. Trying to get past a person’s “delete” instinct and hold them with the content and style can only be achieved if your newsletter is compelling.
However, it is not so much what goes into the newsletter, as what it should offer readers. Trying to get past a person’s “delete” instinct and hold them with the content and style can only be achieved if your newsletter is compelling.

Adding a little extra zest can increase your newsletter’s magnetism, so add a bit of wit, coveted information and a touch of spontaneity to keep your readers interested repeatedly. Remember that you’re asking people to give you their most valuable resource – their time – so strive to make it worthwhile.
Adding a little extra zest can increase your newsletter’s magnetism, so add a bit of wit, coveted information and a touch of spontaneity to keep your readers interested repeatedly. Remember that you’re asking people to give you their most valuable resource – their time – so strive to make it worthwhile.

Sending your e-newsletter from a respected or attention-getting source is very important as it builds more credibility, especially when repeated over time. So if your company has a wide presence and is well respected in the industry, then your business name should be perceived as a trusted source already.

Don’t ruin this be promising one thing and delivering something else, because you’ll lose your readers’ respect. Instead, be true to your subject line with your content and your e-newsletter articles will be a hit.

Worth a thousand words?

The design, look and feel of your e-newsletter can make the difference between being noticed and being ignored. Most readers use the preview pane of their e-mail browser and will see the top few inches of your e-newsletter, so they need to be impressed immediately.
So make your masthead reflect the same expertise your company shares in colours that stand out for easy reading, and refrain from content excess. Too many topics or too many articles and other offers can be overwhelming. And make sure the use of graphics doesn’t result in overkill!
At the end of the day, when so much data already fills the business day, every newsletter you send must intrigue, inspire or engage. So, why not address a boring subject with a fun slant? Or address old issues in new and innovative ways?
Ultimately, just keep things fresh. The rest will follow.

Grant Shippey is CEO of Amorphous New Media, an interactive design and software solutions house. They can be contacted on (+27 11) 380 6500, or by e-mail on info@amorphous.net.

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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