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Effective Customer Newsletters

If used correctly, Customer & Sales Newsletters can be a highly effective way of increasing customer retention, building brand loyalty and increasing profitability.

This extract is intended to provide some suggestions about how Customer and Sales Newsletters can be used to market a company's products and services.

To build a brand loyalty
Control over pricing is one important advantage a branded product provides over a commodity. The process of building brand status usually starts with some value-added feature, but once you add that value it is imperative that your customers know.

A Newsletter can provide critical communication to develop and reinforce brand loyalty. In fact some recent research has identified that newsletters have four times the readership of a traditional advertisement! So, once your customers' perception and preference begins to change towards your products and/or services you can consider the implications of charging your customers a premium.

To deliver a consistent sales message
Companies are continually striving for consistency in all that they do. An inconsistent message is an invisible force that reduces sales effectiveness. One sales person tells a customer one story, another sales person tells another. Or it may be one version of the same story in one sales department and another version in a different sales office or department.

This is particularly true in larger organisation's. Quite simply, the physical size of a company sometimes makes it difficult to get the same information to the right people at the same time.
Newsletters can provide an official position and a consistent message to both customers and staff on such things as product performance, specification and warranty.

Consider printed or on line newsletters
Sales and Customer Newsletters will help your company to generate new business, to increase repeat sales, to improve customer loyalty and to boost referrals. However, you should also consider the method of delivering the actual Newsletters.

With the Internet revolution upon us, it may be more effective to send Newsletters by e-mail, which will avoid print and postage costs and would generally be a faster way of delivering the message to your customers and sales people. Dependent upon the target audience, the effectiveness of the Newsletter may be significantly improved by electronic publishing. It may send a signal to your customers that they are dealing with a progressive company who use the advancement of technology as an effective communication medium.

To generate new business opportunities
Quite often, sales people tend to focus on existing customers and existing business at the expense of prospecting new customers. Although this is not unusual, it may not be in the long-term interests of your company to allow this to happen. A marketing Newsletter can be an effective solution. By using contact lists prepared by your sales people, you can mail out your Newsletters and response forms.

Ask potential customers to register for ongoing copies and you are on your way to building a mailing list and an excellent target audience. Prospects who show interest in the Newsletter, but with no immediate purchasing intention will then stay on the mailing list and receive future issues of your marketing Newsletter. Likewise, you can attract more readers by featuring articles that give free and helpful tips related to your area of expertise.

For internal marketing
There is a strong argument that internal marketing is important to the success of a business. Why not send copies of your Sales or Customer Newsletters to your own staff. The logic being that everyone within your company should know about what you sell and why customers should buy from your company rather than competitors. Features about your products and services in the Newsletter will also educate your own staff. Also, ask sales people to leave Newsletters with potential customers when cold calling.

For quicker acceptance of new product launches
One of the challenges of a new product development is getting it accepted by your existing and potential customers. Most products will go through a typical S-Curve on there way to adoption, but a Newsletter can help to move the product through this curve more quickly. You can effectively prime customers in advance of your product launch, in order to inform them about the benefits of using the new product.

Add customer testimonials
A customer who's perception is that they did not get a good deal or did not obtain value for money will probably not return to make another purchase. One way that you can make buyers feel better is by publishing testimonials from some of your well-known customers.

This approach makes customers feel that they are buying from a reputable and reliable company. An example may be to feature a full-page case study about one of your satisfied clients. It would perhaps describe the whole sequence of events, from the initial concern through to problem resolution.

Promotional campaigns to balance sales demand
For some companies, especially those manufacturing seasonal or cyclical products, you can go some way to balance some of your production patterns by effectively using Newsletters. Newsletters provide an excellent way of letting customers know the advantages of buying earlier or after the peak demand period. Whether your tactics are based upon price, delivery time or some other form of incentive, you can let customers know about the benefits via your Newsletter and level out some of your seasonal or cyclical demand.

The credibility factor
Readers find Newsletters to be a more believable than advertisements. Publishing a Newsletter will establish your company as an authority in your business sector. Remember, if used correctly, Newsletters are about a "soft" sell rather than being full of hype and propaganda. There are also plenty of opportunities to give more in depth information about your product or service than an advertisement and they are more likely to be passed on to other co-workers.

To sell higher margin products & services
A Newsletter can emphasize higher margin products among both customers and employees. For employees, it can reiterate the benefits for the company of selling products with higher margins. And for customers, the Newsletter will let them know that the product or service exists, specify how to buy the product and stress the benefits of using them rather than an alternative.

To obtain customer feedback
To think of a Newsletter as only being a mechanism to push information outwards misses one of its most powerful possibilities. You should use a Newsletter to bring in customer complaints, compliments and suggestions. For example, you can use a Newsletter to periodically survey your customers. A Newsletter is useful to set the tone of the replies that are being canvassed. Respondents will better understand the purpose of your company's plans and by doing so your feedback will deliver better value in order to generate strategic action plans.

Some miscellaneous ways to use Customer & Sales Newsletters
• Generate sales in new territories
• Win back former customers
• Re-position old products and services
• To secure new franchisees
• Secure new distribution channels
• Protect your product reputation
• Promote special events or competitions
• Receive customer ideas for new products
• Report breaking news and industry trends
• Announce participation in local community projects
• Opening of new premises
• Place Newsletters in reception areas, retail stores and showrooms
• Add back issues to your web site

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