“One of the keys to success is stability.”
Sound like the Dalai Lama? A CEO? The president of the U.S.? No, it was a reef aquarist speaking about how the chemical contents of a fish tank are not as important as keeping its level consistent enough for marine growth. Sustained growth depends on a stable environment.
It is also true that organizational stability is a vital component of a healthy company. Buyers buy from companies who will be there in the long term, with stable products, prices and support.
In this article, we focus on how to communicate this to your marketplace in a powerful way.
How Do You Show Stability?
Today's marketplace has become very sensitive to company integrity and credibility. In the past, buyers looked to just the basics: years in business, stock market performance and brand presence.
Today, the market requires more than Dow reports, product advertisements or flashy public relations campaigns. Buyers need to see stability demonstrated through the actions of the company. It's that old adage: actions speak louder than words.”
Many companies use press releases that tout their successes. Careful - buyers are more sophisticated than ever before and require more than a company pounding its own chest.
Be Vital to Your Readers' Professional Stability
In this ‘disposal' economy, your readers need all the help available to be of value to their organizations, and to maintain their own stability within the company. Provide information that your reader wants to pass along. Being known as a credible information source will improve your company's perceived stability.
To illustrate, here are two comments from readers of the e-newsletter, Professional Services Journal:
“It's great to have the information I need to do my job come to me, instead of searching for it.” - Manager Technical Services - Cincom Systems, Inc.
“Several of the articles are right on target for my industry. I will be highlighting ideas to send to my team members and other department managers. Good suggestions are always needed!” - Marketing Manager, Compuware Corporation
What Does ‘stability' Look Like?
Maintain a regular schedule: Send the e-newsletter out at regular and “memorable” intervals over a sustained period of time. This e-newsletter behavior reinforces the message that you are reliable, but only if reader remembers that you are sending the e-newsletter on regular basis. Reader memories generally start to fade if the interval between issues is longer than one month.
Consistent format. Deliver an easy-to-read Web format with consistent navigation, articles in well-marked sections and regular positioning of contact information and links back to your own Web site.
Clear and constant voice. Throughout your e-newsletter, use a constant voice and refrain from buzz words or phrasing too personal for the type of relationship you share with your customers and prospects.
A Stable Process
Create and maintain a regular process for delivering your e-newsletter. From creative development, to production, to distribution, every step in the process affects your readers. Use the following guidelines for a streamlined e-newsletter process.
1. Put together a creative team of individuals from every area of producing the e-newsletter during the development phase: include an editor, designer, writer, web master (mailing list manager) and managing editor (trafficking or communications person).
2. Design your e-newsletter to help the subscriber determine what articles are worth reading and be able to pick them out within 60 seconds.
3. All content must be placed in a consistent context for the reader. Do not show them a bunch of links and leave it to them to determine why they should read the article.
For example, the previously mentioned Professional Services Journal, with readership of almost 10,000 readers per month, places its articles into one of these sections: Industry News and Views, Opportunity Management, Controlling Your Bottom Line, and Managing Service Delivery. The reader immediately understands the context of the article and can better determine if it will be of value to them.
4. Incorporate your business name into the e-newsletter without being overwhelming. Establish consistent contact information and links to your Web site.
5. When determining content, select or write attention-getting headlines for articles that meet the criteria described in the second article (http://www.marketingprofs.com/3/halsul2.asp) of this series from this series on marketing through e-newsletters. Refrain from using a single outside source for existing content more than once per issue; include a variety of resources in every issue.
6. Develop a reader survey, which you can analyze to stay abreast of readers' likes, dislikes and requests. Once you agree on a format, be consistent. After these details are defined, maintain a connection with the creative team that developed the e-newsletter. Rely on them to keep the topics fresh and content relevant as you repeatedly deliver valuable information to your readers.
This may seem like common sense, but many production teams have calendars in place separate from the marketing or creative team. For your e-newsletter, put everything in one place.
1. Create a two-month out calendar of deadlines at the beginning of each month for scheduling (monthly e-newsletters benefit from a six-month out calendar).
2. Clearly state the various deadlines for everyone involved including: submitting content (both existing and original), reviewing and revising, proofing, posting and distributing.
3. Once this schedule is in place, do not veer from it. Meet your deadlines, and customers and prospects will trust you as a resource and continue to respect the information you provide.
Regular distribution: Distribution deadlines are just as important as production deadlines; however, distribution involves more than sending off a missive on a particular date.
1. Maintain your mailing list: removing bad e-mail addresses; resending to individuals with full mailboxes or whose servers did not receive the e-newsletter; adding new names and making sure the technology necessary for sending out the e-newsletter is up-to-date and secure.
2. Import new names from trade shows, sales calls, referrals.
3. Communicate results to the entire team.
Do what few do: respond to each and every reader inquiry individually. It could be a request for removal; a sales inquiry; an angry demand to remove them from your ‘spam list'; a personal note to someone working at the company; a response to an editorial; a rant; or just a plain ole ‘thank you.'
A system can be put together that will help cut down on the work involved, but make sure that a human being actually reads each inquiry. Respond personally to each one. Make it a priority to think through each response you send.
Stability is more than good financials and length of time. It is a perception that your company will be there when needed. This perception is built one e-newsletter issue at a time.
Watch for the next article in the series on finding, acquiring and retaining customers, Step Four: Getting and Keeping Their Attention Through e-Newsletters.