Category Archives: Newsletter

What Is the Difference Between a Tri-fold Brochure, Case Study and a White Paper?

Pen on NotebookI have never been a big fan of tri-fold brochures that attempt to convince me that I should buy a particular product or sign up for a certain service.   These marketing materials tend not to be persuasive enough due to the fact that information has been crammed into a limited space.  The customer benefits are not always obvious, contrary to emotional appeal – nice images, unusual fonts and unique paper may catch my attention, but not for long.

White papers appeal more to me as they provide logic through facts, statistics and quotes from end users or industry experts. They are not flashy, but usually filled with facts.  For me, they are much more informative. I consider writing a good white paper a real art form as the author has to be a good researcher, persuasive essayist and a marketer all at once.  At the same time, a good balance between the right amount of facts, images, quotes and often industry terms has to be achieved.  Case studies tend to focus on customer stories and testimonials whereas white papers add a touch of credibility through unbiased information.

High quality content is becoming increasingly important as people crave useful information and have access to growing number of information channels before making buying decisions.  All marketing materials should educate; therefore, business people, especially marketers, need to become avid readers and dedicated students to continuously improve their skills.  I am planning to master the art of writing effective white papers in 2010 to deliver quality leads for my own business and customers. I encourage you to do the same. Good content leads to good customers.

Going Virtual – Going Green

Several factors are affecting company travel plans this year.

Energy costs. Because of high fuel prices, airline tickets cost more. Also add the cost of lost time, the hassles of going through airport security lines and late arrivals.

All of these situations are making air travel a less attractive choice. The days of flying cross country for a one-hour meeting are disappearing. Increasingly, virtual meetings are replacing travel. Researchers for Hewlett Packard and Cisco Systems, who studied body reactions, say that co-workers in different states and countries experience the same chemical responses to virtual meetings as to face-to-face meetings.

Travel by car for distances of 200 miles is less of a hassle than flying. But it takes more time than conference calls. And it costs more, 58.5 cents a mile.

It’s not just time and money. The frequent-flyer lifestyle can wreak havoc on a person’s health and family life. People who are involved in virtual meetings seem to be pleased with the reduction of air travel.

Here are some web-based options for webinars and online meetings:

GoTo Meeting

Webex

ConferenceCall.com

Skype

Consulting firm BDO Seidman, quoted in Business Week, says it’s not just about travel reduction, it’s also about increasing communication. They say meeting more frequently and in short bursts of time is more productive than flying off to long meetings.

Most companies are considering the green factor in all of their decisions. Flying and driving less will reduce a company’s carbon footprint.


Indexed Outlook – Marketer’s Dream

Millions of people including myself use Outlook as their main email program. Many of these users are frustrated when they can’t find email addresses and phone numbers they are looking for. Outlook can also slow down significantly. A company, called Xobni was created to fix these problems.

“Using Outlook today is like taking a Volkswagen Beetle into space,” founder Mr. Adam Smith said. “People are kind of exerting all these stresses upon it that it wasn’t originally designed to withstand.”

Xobni is introducing a new downloadable tool that plugs into Outlook. This tool indexes all the e-mail in Outlook and makes messages quickly and easily searchable. It is available at www.xobni.com.

Website Marketing Advice (Accounting Software Consultant)

Word of mouth and referrals have been the best marketing tools for our company/website.

Monthly newsletters – both print and email – have worked well for our clients. Your newsletter does not have to be long, but it has to provide useful (catchy!) information for your target audience and encourage people to go to your website. You may want to post your newsletter on your website as well and enable your visitors to sign up for your newsletter on your site.  In order to do so you could sign up for a free trial (Constant Contact – 60 days, ExcerpoMail – 60 days), after adding some code to your website you will have a newsletter sign up button on your site and you can start growing your email newsletter mailing list. No printing costs! Permission based email marketing has a high ROI!

As a QuickBooks ProAdvisor you should have access to free copies of QuickBooks Simple Start software. You could make this FREE software available on your site and maybe throw in some free consulting -online training…(unless startup companies are not your target market). Create an online ad featuring your promotion.  You could sign up for Yahoo Search Marketing. It is similar to Google AdWords program, but they offer free online training once you sign up. Training will provide useful information to people not familiar with online advertising.

You could offer additional online training options, teach customers how to use collaboration software (SharePoint etc.) or teach how to use online conferencing services (WebEx) to beginners for example.  Some of my customers – exprienced business people, are still clumsy with computers. They would like to work remotely, but they have to learn how.

Write articles or maybe case studies featuring benefits of your services (how they meet the needs of your customers) and submit them to sources that your target customer goes to for information.  Post these articles on your website.

Start a blog (free blog available at Blogger.com for example). You could offer tips for Quickbooks users, have a topic of the day, stories about questions your customers have asked, suggestions… etc. Encourage comments and feedback. Blog may also improve your website rankings if you use relevant content and post frequently.

I would not use Google AdWords unless you have done extensive keyword research and know exactly how your customers/potential customers search for services that your company offers. Otherwise you will end up with thousands of clicks (money out of your pocket) and no leads/sales. Microsoft offers a similar program that has worked better for our company. You may want to sign up for WordTracker free trial to find out how many times kewords that are of interest to you are used in search engines.

You may consider joining professional organizations that will let you create your company profile (including a link to your site). You may get leads from members as well as improve the rankings of your site.

Should my company have a newsletter?

Are you trying to reach your customers?

Mission statement, in general, defines a newsletter’s content when the newsletter is aimed at employees.  Some newsletters, however, are aimed at customers, vendors and families almost exclusively.  These are called “external”newsletters, and they have special missions.

 An external newsletter can be a great marketing tool. Unlike internal newsletters, where the
“community”is your group of employees, an external newsletter has a larger community or
audience and demands a more generalized content.

For example, one customer has published an external newsletter for 24 years aimed at customers and potential customers of its auto dealership. The editor’s content strategy may surprise you:  She prints NOT ONE WORD about cars.  That’s right.  Not a single word.
    

When you think about it for a second, this isn’t so unusual. The auto manufacturer fills the air waves with advertisements about its cars, but the car dealer is interested in forming a relationship between its salesmen and its customers.  It is this relationship that ultimately sells cars. 

The editor keeps her audience (the customer) familiar with events in the small community and keeps them interested in receiving the newsletter by printing items of general interest, including a recipe each month that she tries out herself.

Sometimes the external newsletter reaches a large, but closely knit audience of people in an industry.  For example, a film development company in a large city has a primary customer base of professional photographers (and serious amateurs) who need special color and black-and-white film development services. This company has a newsletter that reaches every advertising, design and related industry group (like professional type-output service bureaus), along with professional
photographers. The reason is that this group is extraordinarily close-knit.  Although it is a large industry, it is also a relatively small group of people who know each other and are curious about each other’s activities. The newsletter is highly designed and packed with information on the people and the business of advertising. It does produce photography information, but the goal of the newsletter is to make this particular business a player in the overall industry. It succeeds.

If you want to reach customers with your newsletter, consider your mission in terms of the industry: What image do you want to have in the industry?  Is there an information void you can fill?