In the past year, we’ve heard a fair amount of things that businesses can do to help
themselves and their customers during these challenging economic times. But with all
of the sales strategies, market analysis, customer profiles, and service procedures,
sometimes we lose sight of the importance of simply talking with our customers and
Building relationships remains the strongest way to recession-proof your
business. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to take each of your customers and prospects
out for a one-on-one lunch, or even a cup of coffee? In a perfect world, you would have
the time, energy, and financial resources to do just that.
And what would you talk about? You certainly wouldn’t want to be a boorish
blabbermouth, and simply prattle on about yourself and all the wonderful things you
are up to. Instead, you would want to first engage your customers, and get them
talking about themselves and their interests, whether it’s about their business or about
their personal lives.
How would you do this? By asking some intelligent, sincere, and
relevant questions, that’s how. Or by sharing some information that you’ve recently
read or heard, that would be pertinent to them, and asking their opinion about
it. Bottom line, you would want to keep the conversation light and interesting, and
flowing back and forth.
Since most of us in business have to actually do some work, we don’t typically have the
time, energy, and financial resources to take each of our customers and prospects out
for a meal or a coffee break on a regular basis. But we can still get the benefits of a
pleasant, no-pressure chat by visiting the people whom our business serves via the
wonders of technology; specifically, through regular email newsletters. If your business
has customers or clients, then it can make an impact with an e-newsletter.
Using the same approach that you would use in person over a latte and muffin, you can
pose questions and share information with your target audience, seeking to learn more
about their world, and sharing bits of yours. The benefits of an e-newsletter are many.
· Encourage interactivity. Pose a question to your reader, and he/she can
instantaneously respond directly to you simply by hitting the “reply” button and
keying in an answer. Just as easily, you can respond back to the reader. Thus, a
dialogue is started, and not just with one reader, but maybe hundreds, perhaps even
· Position you as an expert in your industry. If you know your stuff, and are not
afraid to share that knowledge with your clients and prospects, you will soon build a
reputation as a thought leader in your field. Sharing information is not “giving away
the store.” You cannot possibly, in the space of one newsletter, give away so much
information as to make yourself obsolete. To the contrary, you only serve to build the
foundation of your expertise in your readers’ eyes.
· Generate leads and referrals. If your content is relevant and useful to your
readers, the chances are good that sooner or later, they will either do business with you,
or pass your name along to a friend or colleague who is need of your products or
services. Your e-newsletter can serve as your certificate of credibility.
· Provide measurements. Most e-newsletter services provide reports on the
delivery of the mailing, such as how many messages were opened, and how many
bounced (i.e., were not successfully delivered) and to whom. If you link your
newsletter to your web site, you can learn which articles were read by how many
people, and specifically, by whom. This helps you tailor your newsletter to your
· Allow for easy cost management. You don’t have to worry about increasing
printing costs, especially when you want to use multiple colors and graphics. You
don’t have to worry about rising postage cost, especially as your mailing list grows, or
when you want to send additional updates, advisories, or, heaven forbid,
corrections. The difference in cost between emailing 100 newsletters and 1000 is
Perhaps the e-newsletter’s greatest benefit of all is its function as a relationship builder.
If your customers and prospects hear from you regularly each month, they will
come to expect and look forward to your regular “visits.”
They will trust your opinions and your knowledge.
Each newsletter that you send to them, and each newsletter of yours
that they read, serves only to solidify the relationship between your company and the
reader. Your competitors may offer similar products or services and similar prices, but
it is your company that provides customers with a relationship, giving them a “friend”
in the industry.
By all means, you should make every effort to take your best customers out for a meal
or a cup of coffee – there is no substitute for face-to-face visits between businesses and
their customers. However, as you strive to build and sustain your business, you seek to
cultivate as many relationships as possible. An e-newsletter allows you maximize the
connection to your customers and prospects, and gives them easy access to you. It’s
like muffins for everybody!
— Charles Dennis
© Knowledgence Associates, 2003 / All Rights Reserve