Have you noticed that everything is on sale right now? Businesses are trying to recover from lost revenues. So many are focusing on slashing prices and having sales. It’s a bonus for everyone right now, but are sales training your customers?
I don’t know about you, I’ve lost count how many sales emails I get daily.
I had a friend, let’s call her Kathy, who had a beauty salon. When things got slow, Kathy had a special. Discounted services. I remember a conversation we had…
The high price of sales
“I’m so excited, things are picking up, Judi. Putting that special on Facebook really worked.”
“I’m delighted for you,” I responded but something I’d heard once kept niggling at the back of my brain. I didn’t say anything as I certainly didn’t want to be a downer.
Two days later I got a call,” We’re booked a month out! Clients are coming out of the woodwork for our specials.”
So several months later when things slowed down again, Kathy ran more specials. The books again filled and Kathy was all smiles.
I didn’t see Kathy for a while, then dropped in to visit with her at her salon.
The phone rang and she raised a finger to pause our conversation and reached to answer it. “Hi, this is Kathy, how can I help you.?”
I leaned against the counter waiting for her to finish.
“Specials? I’m sorry, you missed our offer last month.”
From where I was standing, I couldn’t miss the caller’s response. “Oh well. Could you let me know when you’re having your next special? I’ll just wait.”
My gaze flicked to Kathy’s face…it was crestfallen. She had trained her clients to wait for sales.
I’ve seen this scenario repeated over and over by diverse businesses over the years.
Many department stores actually initially price goods above the MSRP knowing they will have to mark them down. They skim the cream with the first sales. Then in 5-6 weeks maximum, they start dropping the price….and it never goes back to normal. They have to move it out before the next batch comes in.
I used to love shopping with my girlfriend at Nordstroms in San Francisco. Our mission…to see what great new stuff had reached the markdown stage.
Think of your local furniture or mattress store… they are ALWAYS having some sort of sale. Instead of adding value or creating a desire another way, they focus on discounting products. Sure, we know they mark them up then mark them down, but they’ve trained customers to watch for the word sale.
Are sales training your customers?
It’s important to keep in mind, our marketing techniques teach our customers what to expect from us. If we’re always having sales, they lump us in with budget discounters.
It’s the halo effect or guilt by association.
While it might be a win for businesses and consumers in a pandemic when most people’s funds are crunched, this can become a fixed mindset or cycle.
Sales will become more and more dependent on the discounts you offer. They will become commonplace and expected.
With lower profits, it gets progressively harder for a business to stay viable. What you need…alternatives.
At the same time, your brand’s value is dropping in the eyes of the consumer because of the constantly discounted prices.
3 Alternative Techniques
There are actually lots more than just three techniques, but these are particularly suited to those with an online presence be it products or services.
As an alternative to a discount, they tend to lean on scarcity and urgency as motivators.
Transparent Pricing alternatives
Transparent pricing is about showing “how” you control costs so you can offer a product at significantly lower than a competitor. You feature both the quality of your product, and the steps you take to control costs.
For example, Everlane is an online eCommerce operation. They have few brick and mortar stores, no traditional advertising, and offer no discounts.
This snippet from a Google ad explains their concept well:
Timeless Pieces Made with High-Quality Materials Designed to Last for Years. Shop Modern Luxury Basics. Ethically Sourced, Radically Priced. Ethically Made. Radical Transparency. Modern Basics. Types: A-Grade Cashmere, Luxe Alpaca, Soft Cotton, Italian Merino.
A look at their website confirms they have high-end goods and very few items on sale. I would assume those that are…weren’t good sellers.
They also incorporate a social responsibility aspect with their 100% Human line. A portion of all sales benefits the ACLU human rights efforts.
Dollar Shave Club is one of the best known of this type of marketing. By cutting out the middlemen, they went direct to consumer, D2C. They went with a simple basic product…a razor. Their target market 20-30 year-olds who wanted a razor without the frills.
For their subscription, they no longer have to remember to buy razors. The products are auto-shipped on a monthly basis.
This model used in the alternative health industry extensively. The challenge for the consumer is keeping up with their product usage so that they don’t end up with a backlog.
It’s a fact, some people use more than others. Options on the delivery schedule might resolve this issue and increase the customer lifetime value.
A variation on this theme are Membership programs. Commonly, there is an annual or monthly fee automatically charged. The member then either gets automatic gift packs or can use their “credit” to select items they’d like to purchase. Wineries and wine clubs often use this style.
Freebies and Extras
The products are sold at full price. For each purchase level, which varies from company to company, you get bonus gifts.
I’ve seen this used with cosmetic lines like MAC and IT. Cosmetics have a broader markup, especially D2C. The company can expose buyers to products they either love or haven’t tried.
The perfume industry also uses this format to give extras with good cause. Why?
Studies by psychologists revealed the people would rather have a 2-for-1 than getting something at 50% value. They transfer the value of the priced item to the gift item…regardless of its true value.
A clothing company for surfers called Surfstitch also uses this model. They offer free gifts at the $100 and $200 mark.
The type of program you might want to incorporate could be one of the above or other alternatives. All rely on value, convenience, scarcity, and or urgency instead of giant markdowns.
When I work with clients, I want to understand their goals and ideal customer. Then I can recommend one of the various strategies to build brand value and loyalty without constant sales.
Your customer needs are the driving force behind your business and sales. Did you know that 42% of all startups die because they work on products without a market need? A whopping 72% of all new products don’t meet their sales targets.
Ahh, you say. I’m in CBD or supplements. There’s a big need for my products and ideas. You’re right. However, you and I can’t make that decision for the customer. Instead, we need to put them in the center of the discussion table and build the product to meet their needs.
You need to know your customer needs…
I just read a quick snippet by the Head of Merchandising for a Global Lifestyle brand. It was about how they plan their product and their pricing. It’s very customer-centered.
“We are designing clothing for the woman who carries a Chanel bag.”
That one sentence says so much. They have honed in on a very specific client. They know exactly who this customer is, what she expects to pay for specific items, and what she is looking for. Quality and details like fabric are very important to their client. So they focus on these. Customer needs drive sales.
It’s not just luxury brands. It’s also fast foods.
Think McDonalds’…the happy place. Kids are happy and have fun. Parents get a break and know the kids will eat. McDonald’s entire setup is focused customer needs. Play area, kids meals, relaxed easy atmosphere, budget pricing.
Do you know your customer that well? Most businesses don’t.
For well over 30 years, I’ve been around a lot of skincare and cosmetic formulators. I’ve seen the good, not so good, and the “blah” in the middle.
They might springboard off something currently popular.
Most products come from an idea. There are a lot of these in the CBD, supplement, and beauty sectors. When done this way, it’s easy to miss the mark. It isn’t customer-focused.
You need to start with the customer’s needs. That merchandiser gets this.
Something to keep in mind
One mistake I have seen repeated repeatedly…one size/product for all. One size never fits anyone well. If you try to make your product so generic it works for “everyone,” it plants a little seed of doubt. It never works equally well for different customer needs.
Quick example: a wonder product that works to take years off your face in only weeks and it will clear your young adult acne too. If it feels great on dry mature skin, it’s going to feel too oily on young problem-prone skin. If it works great on oily skin, it will feel like a mask on dry skin.
You build a product based on skin type, oil levels, risk factors, and skin needs. Acne skins need to be water-based and require non-comedogenic ingredients to do its job.
However, if you have a maturing skin showing signs of aging, 85-90% are going to need some oils to repair the skin barrier if you hope to have any look/feel of improvement. You need different formulas for optimum results.
A product designed to work for everyone…is probably little.
3 Techniques to Improve your Product/Customer Connection
Maybe you don’t have the luxury at this point to design a product focused on a specific customer need. I get that. You already have your products brought to the market. So start with where you are.
First, consider your product…
To give your product the best chance for success, pause a moment, and recall what triggered its creation? How did that influence its ingredient choices? What are its specific attributes and benefits?
Don’t think features. A feature is what something “is.” Focus on benefits. Consumers want to know what it will do for them or how it will improve their life.
If you’ve had the product on the market a while, do a market analysis. How well do your buyers match with the group who is going to see the most benefits with the product?
What do their reviews say? Returns? Unsubscribes?
Once you can gather this data, analyze it. Look for ways to tweak your marketing and content. Let your best prospect know you have their best solution.
What if you find a disconnect?
Once in a while, even an experienced company that thinks they know their customer well can have an challenge. Last year a firm that I’ve worked with for 25 years came out with a new product. They are a global leader in hair removal wax products with literally dozens of choices.
They came out with a lovely product designed to focus on a new marketing niche…those people getting tattoos. When a tattoo is to be applied, all the hair in the area is removed before work is started.
When they brought it out, I wondered how well a light powdery scented pink wax was going to go over. Women might like it, but pink could be a hard sell in a tattoo environment.
In less than a year, I learned that product had been rebranded and they were coming out with a new pre-tattoo wax product. When I saw the new packaging…complete with a skull and roses…with a dark charcoal bead, I had to smile. It looked more like wax for a tattoo.
The company responded quickly to the disconnect and repositioned both waxes to meet different specific needs. Both are popular with their target niche. The formulas? Very similar.
If you find a disconnect. Listen, learn, and respond/regroup as quickly as you can.
Include your target customer in the discussion
One of the best ways to prevent a product disconnect problem is to have a marketing team that includes a target customer.
A staff member might fit the target profile. Or they may share the same problem.
A marketing team having both men and women has also shown to get better outcomes.
An alternative option might be to solicit a superfan and interview them to gain ideas. Learn about them and you learn how to engage with more just like that person.
Build and share his/her success story. It’s one of the strongest ways to replicate your ideal customer.
When I work with clients
They may be focused on a marketing number. However, if we don’t make sure the right product is matched to the right client we won’t get the desired results.
“I just need to get this live,” may feel like what you need to do. I’ve found if you don’t get the right message to the right person, you may have a pretty web page that won’t accomplish much for you. We look at their goals and try to make both short and long term plans to help them achieve them…even if they have to do them in increments.
You have a secret marketing team at your disposal to effectively grow your alternative health, wellness, or CBD business and it’s probably closer than you realize. It’s your customer support team and your customers themselves in addition to your marketing team. They need to be closely working with marketing.
A colleague and I were talking about this recently. He’s been a copywriter for over 15 years. One of his clients suddenly had a huge drop in his business. In less than six months their revenues had dropped over 40%.
Desperate, he called my friend, Joshua, and asked him to come to help them sort it out and he would make the arrangements for Joshua’s travel.
Joshua flew to their headquarters for the staff meeting. He needed to talk to all the key people to see what had changed.
When he arrived to the meeting, the head of the marketing department wasn’t there. Joshua stopped and told them he couldn’t progress without everyone there. The owner made a call and an hour later the department head arrived.
Like I do, after listening carefully, Joshua started asking questions. He started digging. The products hadn’t changed. Pricing hadn’t changed appreciably. Orders, shipping, and delivery were all handled the same.
He asked to see the copy they had been sending out to customers over the past few months.
The owner liked the new messages. He found it hard to believe that the changes they had made could cause such a dramatic change in sales.
Could a marketing change really do that?
Instead of trying to convince him, Joshua asked who had written the copy. Turning to her, he said, “Please write the next piece that’s to go out. Do it just the way you have been…no changes. Okay?”
Slightly bewildered she agreed. Then he turned to the owner and said, “I’ll also write copy for the same content. I want you to A/B test them and we’ll see what your buyers say. Agreed?”
The owner agreed and they sent the test emails out. The copy my friend wrote outperformed their staff writer’s copy 20:1. Why? He wrote directly to their target market and their mindset. He didn’t try to change them from who they were.
Management had lost connection with their buyer’s wants, needs, and mindset.
We can’t afford client marketing disconnects in the midst of this crisis.
Have you noticed it’s harder to get answers to questions right now? I have. In my client work I’ve noticed they are slower to get back to me.
Businesses that I deal with are slower to get back to me. Some are even completely ignoring their customer’s requests for support or have reasonable ways to be reached.
It’s a recipe for decline, loss of sales, and a decrease in customer retention.
The answers are at your fingertips or the other end of your cell phone. Your best secret weapon is your customer support staff and existing clients.
Your customer support team is your “first-responders”. Just like medics and firefighters, there are the first ones your customers interact with. They hear the stories. They know what’s working and where the problems are.
In my client work, I have found there is often a big disconnect between management and customer service. Management may assume they have it all delegated.
Numerous studies and surveys verify this. About 75% of management thinks they have great customer service. Only about 25% of customers agree.
Management may assume that they are on target. It’s easy to not accurately connect marketing strategies, investments, and focus with what the customer service team is experiencing.
Here are three techniques to lessen this disconnect and empower your business to move forward.
Talk to your real marketing team…
Have a conference with your customer service team with your marketing team listening in. Start by listening to what they are experiencing. What’s going right? What are the concerns they hear the most often? Where, if any are the breakdowns?
Is there a product that has developed an issue?
Is there a need that could be better met with a little tweaking?
What about a concern or information that if provided on the website could reduce interaction friction? You want to minimize purchasing friction every step of the way. What would make the buying process easier?
Review how customer service interacts with clients or queries.
Phone? Email? Chat? What is the typical response time?
What is the scope of your sales? Local, regional, national or beyond?
What hours is customer support offered and are they reasonable for people beyond your time zone?
If you’re an east coast firm doing business with not just continental USA, but also Alaska and Hawaii – you have a six-hour time difference to consider. Even just in the continental US, it may be 5 PM on the east coast…but it’s only 2 PM on the west coast. This can cause a lot of customer service friction.
Right now…and for the foreseeable future, consider shifting most, if not all customer service to remote work. If you don’t have it, consider how to create a way for that team to be able to offer support.
Also, is there a way you could have longer hours through a remote worker? Either an opposite coast liaison or someone who would be willing to handle an early or late shift…depending on your location.
Create better customer relations by letting them know when they can expect to hear back from you. Supply chain users are learning they have to be more flexible and things are taking longer. Retail consumers are less content to wait.
One of my clients is a distributor and while their sales have been suffering greatly, now they are getting lots of requests for “I need it right now.”
Set expectations by having clear guidance on how you are working and fulfilling orders.
Even if you get it out the same day…we both know deliveries are not predictable. Not even express or other very expensive delivery services.
What are your customers saying?
You might want to read some of the customer emails or chat threads to get a better sense of how your customer is feeling about your company and your product.
Visit your social media pages and check out the conversations there. Do you need to ramp up support there?
Are you getting reviews on your website or social media? What do they say? What can be done to improve them?
Customer problems are opportunities for increasing sales…if you listen and act on them.
With over 30 years in business, I know we can’t make every person happy. However, often, there is an easy fix. Product or product packaging tweaking. Digital content tweaking or additions. Better customer experience opportunities.
Get feedback and share it with customer service and marketing
If you don’t have an automatic feedback system following a sale, consider incorporating one.
Every time I pick up groceries… I get a how did we do email. Businesses that use square automatically followup with a little smiley face or frown option on my phone…again, feedback on how they did.
Customer surveys are a goldmine. Offer a bonus for taking a few moments and giving you some feedback. Keep it short and simple. I hate my grocery store feedback because it asks way too much demographic information that is identical every time.
Be respectful of their time. Think of how You would feel being asked these questions.
It’s better to have just a few quick questions and then a space for comments. It empowers and respects them at the same time.
If you get a comment that brings an issue to your attention, have a script for staff to use as a response. Thank them and let them know this will be looked into.
When I work with clients, these are techniques I share. I recommend the findings and suggested modifications/changes be shared with all levels. Management needs the information, Customer Service wants the suggestions and Marketing needs to keep the customer in the loop of changing you are making.
Need more recommendations? www.jculpcreativecopy.com
Psychologists have understood for years that appearance and positive interactions can create a halo effect across a person and those standing close by.
It works equally across a business. Get one area top-notch and the halo spreads across your brand. Look at Apple’s halo as an example.
You’ve probably heard the story about equivalent job applicants?
Two people with very similar abilities, but quite different in appearance and presentation.
The one with the more classically appealing appearance and presentation will get the job every time.
I recall one particular story where an applicant when into a business to apply for a job…obviously before the mandated online application systems. He had a scraggly beard and wore unkempt clothing.
Then he went home and shaved/groomed his facial hair and put on a business suit. He reapplied.
When they offered him the job, he clarified who he was and that he had done this in the interest of research.
How embarrassing for the business.
But we have had these responses ingrained in us for millennia. A beast at the entrance to the cave was much more a threat than say an attractive female alone.
In my 30 years in business, I’ve interviewed thousands of clients, students, and applicants. There are some truths that almost always hold true…and I see the same thing happening with businesses and products.
In fact, there are numerous articles about businesses chasing the halo effect to increase their chance to gain new clients. It’s the old “if you stand close, it rubs off on you” theory.
It’s important to keep in mind…
Once that halo is applied, it needs to be backed up with continued support. It only takes one bad product to destroy loyalty and that positive view of you When that happens, they call it the “horn effect,”…speak of the devil.
Here are 3 techniques to earn that halo…
That halo is generated from the first brief 2-5 seconds of a customer’s encounter with your brand. That might be the physical product, you in person, or your website. You only get one chance to create that first impression. These tips can help you make it your best.
Halo 1 is earned with your website.
The coronavirus has made online the preferred method of connecting with and purchasing from a brand. They will decide based on…
Your website appearance
Ease of navigation
Great product information
Detail resource documents
Ease of finding and using the contact information
Speaking as a customer…there is nothing worse than an inability to get questions answered.
A second Halo is your voice or tone
Its the way you share. Confident…not cocky or grandiose. Sincere, honest, and clear.
For your products, it’s how they match your mission statement physically, price, and in the presentation.
Every type of communication needs to reflect this…
Passionate about what you’re doing…there is nothing that engages us quicker than a passionate person that is close to our beliefs.
A third halo tidbit is getting client-focused…
Some businesses are built on this. Some are evolving into it. And others are fighting it tooth and nail. With all the competition out there, this last group will be getting the horns…not the halo.
To earn and keep this halo, you need to demonstrate it across every connection and interaction you have with clients and prospects.
You don’t have to be perfect in every little thing, but get the customer focus right, and provide quality products and they will let your halo from that shine across your brand.
Look at the tone of your communications, responsiveness, and ease of access.
Right now everyone is running a little bit slower. Put it out there. Whatever you are able to do at the moment, communicate it clearly to establish client expectations.
A few months ago small businesses were struggling to compete against Amazon’s next day delivery. No more. Even they can’t accomplish it. Just tell your customers what you are experiencing and what you can do.
Share this across all your brand communications: website, emails, and social media.
Keep customers updated if a product is coming back into availability that has been back-ordered. Let them know if there will be restrictions and limitations.
It’s really all about being the kind of communicator you want your suppliers to be. Share it forward with your customers and prospects. Want to know if you earn a halo or horns? Contact me by Friday, May 8 at 5PM PDT to have a shot at winning a “halo or horns” look at your website. email@example.com. Please include your name, email, and website URL.
It’s really true. When you do good, it has rewards. Right now, offering something good, something helpful can get increased traffic. It can also strengthen your bond with prospects and existing clients.
About a week ago a friend sent me a marketing email with a “Do Good” headline similar to that and it really made me think. She shared a quick story about how she’d received an email with a link to a resource list.
The list was very comprehensive and not only talked about resources this company offered but also other company’s offerings. The quality of the list was excellent and diverse. Plus… bonus…Every company listed was offering Covid-19 discounts.
She like most people is also very money conscious right now and that every company there offered a discount added even more value. She said the list was so great it gave her “warm fuzzies” for a company she had been totally unaware of.
Imagine for a minute if you offered a list like that…
Maybe you sell CBD topicals. In addition to those you might share resources to
Learn more about CBD
CBD ingestible products
Fitness at home how-to – who’s streaming home help?
Stress management audios like Calm.
Tricks and tips for a better night’s sleep
And many quality companies are offering discounts right now to stimulate sales and help people who are suddenly unemployed.
Wow. Who wouldn’t want that combination?
Help with stress, pain, anxiety, sleep in a crisis.
As a CBD user and someone who is coping with stress, arthritis, and some restless nights, I’d want to see the list!
As a content marketer, I love how it makes your brand a hero…a helpful trusted resource. Do good and get rewarded.
Keep in mind you’ll want to select companies that you’d share with your family and personal friends. That will offer the highest value and get you the most warm-fuzzies.
Do good tips…
Here are three tips to help you create value in your list. Make it timely, useful and actionable.
Select companies with thought
Feature your offerings first. You’re the one putting this out and your readers will expect to see you. So start the list by featuring you, what you offer and what your discount is.
Are they readily available online? If they are only brick and mortar storefronts, that makes a big problem right now. People need online resources. You want to offer timely, useful, and actionable links. If it looks like they are closed for business…skip them.
Does it look like they have stock available? I know supply chains are getting interrupted, but what help is it if they can’t buy?
Share why you think they might want to check out the company and a little more in-depth on what they offer. Keep it informational and conversational, like you were talking with a friend.
Is their website easy to navigate? If you hate using it, why would you recommend it to a friend?
Select for bandwidth
People are struggling on many levels right now, yet they will buy for the same reasons. Pain, stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, improving overall health, and or fitness.
Your resource list needs to cover all of these with options in each category. To enhance value include both educational/informational resources and products to purchase. Look for diversity in both.
In this list…more is better.
If you have affiliates or colleagues include them in your list. Cross-marketing could be beneficial to both of you.
Make sure your list follows good SEO practices
Your headlines and subheads should be benefit and keyphrase-rich.
You don’t need a ton of words. It should be quick to scan and focus on the needs of YOUR target reader. Plus, it should be easy to take action.
Reverse engineering can help you flesh out the list. Think about the questions you get every day. How can you offer help to your target reader? Use this to add to your list.
This type of resource-rich page has been around for a long time. It’s a proven strategy that boosts traffic even though it’s not a money-making page in itself.
You could create the list yourself, have your marketing department do it, or hire a freelancer. If the thought of creating this type of resource overtaxes your resources, look outside your team. I’ve created this type of page for my own business and others. It’s fun to find helpful things to share…in a way that makes your company shine and using content techniques to drive traffic to your website. For more information: www.jculpcreativecopy.com Contact me by 5/5/2020 to learn about my Covid-19 discount.
Newsletters are a great way to bond with customers. They are a friendly, casual way to stay in touch.
There are a lot of different formats. But there is one thing they must do to be successful.
Newsletters must get the reader’s attention…
I’ll never forget the two teachers I had in a shared-time experimental English class. It was my junior year of high school.
Monday through Wednesday we had English literature followed by two days of public speaking.
The teachers couldn’t have been more different.
The English teacher was a petite woman with a soft voice. Unfortunately, she also tended to speak and read in a monotone.
I love books, I love literature. But she was so hard to focus on in that soft lullaby voice. The hour dragged. I could feel my eyelids wanting to droop.
The first time I met our Thursday-Friday teacher, I was terrified.
Mrs.Trueblood strode into the room like a warrior-queen. Her voice boomed rich and deep. Authoritative. Strong.
As she made her way toward the teacher’s desk on the far side of the room, I noticed everyone was sitting up a little straighter. Mrs.Trueblood commanded every class.
Yup. She had my attention…and then she captivated my brain. That turned into one of the most enlightening and amazing classes I took in school.
If I would see her now, I’d stand my tallest and shake her hand with all the professionalism I grew into…and thank her for what she gave me. Skills and confidence that are still with me today.
Every newsletter needs to open with a good subject line and lead that gets the reader’s attention.
I’ve been writing newsletters for well over 25 years. They’ve kept customers up to date, inspired them and offered valuable information.
Were they all masterpieces? Of course not. But they’ve given me lots of practice to find what works.
Discover your stats specific to your industry niche.
Industry stats are something many businesses are unaware of.
Sending out e-newsletters and then seeing how many people do, or don’t, open them can be a little nerve-wracking. I’ve seen many businesses start second-guessing themselves and abandon the project.
Instead use Google and find the typical statistics for your business segment.
You’ll find out all sorts of interesting data there. The typical number of opens, the typical number of clicks, (if you have links,) and even conversions. It’s all available as part of the tracking of the mail-handling program.
Different systems track different things if they are properly interconnected to your website. Talk with your webmaster about what will work best with your system.
Once I learned those statistics I discovered I was doing better than most businesses in my industry. Sometimes 10 times better.
But what if you get an email that doesn’t get the response you expected? I’ve found most of the time it was timing. It wasn’t the perfect time for that message.
It could also be the wrong group or segment of your recipients.
Try these 4 techniques for a great newsletter
One question I often get is…how often should I send a newsletter?
Your newsletter can be a monthly release of multiple articles that are featured weekly.
They start with the first week’s article in brief with a link to the full article. They also include links to three other articles at the bottom. Each week one article gets its turn at being featured in an email.
That works well for larger businesses who really want to build and share information. It also builds traction faster.
But if four monthly articles are not in your time schedule, or budget, then send at least monthly.
You need to stay in touch with clients and prospective clients at least monthly to stay on their mind.
I like to work from an idea list. I also review what worked well in previous years for specific time slots.
You have two choices for tracking data from your email system. Export it to a data file or stay with the same email contact manager system. This builds you a history you can easily review.
Keep your newsletters to one theme if possible.
Even many popular magazines tend to use themes. You won’t find 4th of July picnics in the December issue. Get the right message at the right time.
Start with seasonal. Look for events or holidays you can tie into if that fits your specific products.
But if you’re in the midst of a crisis? Pause and think about what is going to be the most important message you can share this month.
Right now family bonding, mental health and self-care are all important.
Tips for coping with stress, anxiety and getting a good night’s rest are high priorities.
Tips for dealing with unavailability. Many of us are accustomed to dropping by the store nearly daily to get this or that. Not now.
Most of us are planning and shopping in advance to minimize the number of trips we need to make. We’re making contingency plans for things that aren’t available.
We’re coping with back orders and items out of stock with no projected availability. This adds to the stress levels. Anything to cope with stress or anxiety is getting checked out.
Are your customers looking for a quick read? Plan the length and complexity based on your target audience. Are you sending a series of educational pieces? Those may run longer.
Are you sending a helpful, hopeful, hang in there message? Keep it short, positive and inspirational.
Get your message clear and simple.
I’m often asked how long is long enough?
A short email might be 200-300 carefully chosen words.
A blog length article can be 800-1500 words.
But as my seventh-grade-teacher always said, as she primly lifted her calf length skirts toward her knees…
It needs to be long enough to cover the subject and short enough to be interesting.
Of course, we giggled or tried to keep straight faces. It was years before I realized how profoundly truthful those words are.
Don’t drag it on…that’s when you lose readers.
Find the magic balance…
Many of the emails and newsletters we receive are 100% sales. If you’re like me, you can spot and delete those in seconds.
The first pass of my emails is looking for stuff to delete. Sound familiar? Absolutely.
We are being so inundated with emails…especially sales and sales pitches, that we’re experts at spotting the stuff we aren’t interested in. So we go down, tick them and in one fell swoop…their opportunity is in the trash.
Maybe those businesses haven’t noticed people have other needs than just a sale.
Here’s a quick question or two for you to consider.
What type of email do you like to receive from your suppliers?
A sale? Or helpful information with maybe a short call-to-action or product special at the bottom?
Which makes you feel better? Which makes you feel more connected to them?
Make your communications heavy on the information, inspiration and connection side.
Keep the selling information to between 10-20% of the total. Message first. Sales second is a better way to bond.
Not sure how your newsletters rank?
As we make our way through the marketing complexities we face, here’s a special offer. For the first 2 people who contact me…before 5PM PDT on 4/16, I’ll do a quick complimentary review of an existing newsletter.