Sunday, 4 July 2010
6 Ways To Use Customer & Sales Newsletters
Sell More Higher-Margin Products
Businesses that find they're not earning much profit, despite strong sales, may have allowed low-margin products to become their mainstay.
A newsletter can emphasize higher margin products, among both customers and employees. For employees, reiterate the benefits (for them and the company) of selling a product or set of products with a higher profit margin. For customers, let them know these products exist, how to buy them, and outline the benefits of using them.
Go From Commodity To Branded Status
Control over pricing is one important advantage a branded product provides over a commodity. Of course, the process of moving a product to branded status starts with incorporation of some value-added feature. But once you add that value you want to make sure your customers know.
A marketing newsletter provides critical communication for the branding process. After all, increasing the cost of a commodity without explaining benefits could lead customers to switch to another supplier. Before the price goes up customers should expect the increase, understand the added value, and appreciate the extra benefits they receive.
Penetrate New Markets Or Territories
Often, sales people focus on existing customers and existing business. That's not surprising, but not necessarily in your best long-term interests. All businesses need at least some prospecting and new customers. The problem: rewards from prospecting and developing new business come slowly, compared to returns from current customers.
A marketing newsletter can be an effective first-line. Using lists prepared by your sales people, or representatives of the areas you want to enter, mail out your print newsletter and a response form. If you publish a free electronic newsletter, look for ways to find new subscribers in the target area.
The newsletter should make it simple for potential customers to contact you, to ask for information about your products, or to ask a sales person to call. Plan to send multiple issues of the newsletter, since repeat exposures are key to developing new business.
Marketing, for good reason, usually focuses on externally-oriented activity. However, one school of thought argues that internal marketing matters, too. Essentially, internal marketing helps ensure that everyone within your organization knows what you sell, and why customers should buy from you. And, don't forget attitude. Everyone in the organization should be a booster of the company‘s products.
Articles and other pieces that sell to external customers can also help employees. Articles in marketing newsletters should not be written for employees, but they should be kept in mind.
Reduce After-Sale Dissonance
After-sales dissonance refers to our natural inclination to wonder if we got a good deal after we bought something. A buyer who feels that he or she got a poor deal will probably not be a repeat customer, or cause other, costly problems.
You can reduce buyer dissonance by publishing the names of some prominent customers (with their permission, of course). That makes other customers feel secure by knowing that they're in good company. Also, consider the security-in-numbers idea, reporting on the number of purchases made in a specific period.
To think of the newsletter only as an instrument of outward-bound communication misses one of its most powerful possibilities. Use a newsletter to bring in customer complaints, compliments, and suggestions, too.
Some of the more important customer responses include:
* complaints about product performance
* ideas for improvements in products
* ideas for new products
* referrals to new customers
* satisfaction levels
* reports on needs or unsolved problems in the marketplace
These are just a half dozen of the many ways in much you might use a customer or marketing newsletter, demonstrating the power and reach of effective newsletters.