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Six Strategies to Make Your Newsletters Work Harder

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Brands that deliver general interest newsletters filled with tips, tools, and advice—but not unique brand-differentiating content—should rethink their approach.

Many brands originally expect that engaging with customers and delivering basic newsletters will create warm and fuzzy feelings that are enough to generate a positive ROI. Most are disappointed with their results.

Progressive brands are making advances in their approach, tightening the focus of their relationship marketing, and now filling newsletters with more unique-to-the-brand content.

Here are six forward-looking strategies to make your newsletter and other relationship-building communications work harder.

1. Write to long-time heavy buyers who are familiar with your brand and the category

The people who seek out or agree to receive your communications are special. They usually include some of your heaviest buyers who already have an affinity for your brand and the benefits it provides. Speak directly to them. Respect their experience in your category. A brand or category "newbie" will adjust to and respect this approach, but the reverse is not true.

2. Provide validation that your brand was the right choice

If readers are already familiar with your brand, why did they sign up for your newsletter? Many want to validate their decision to buy your brand. Research shows that once people have made a decision, they look for ways to validate it and avoid changing their mind. This holds true even when they are presented with competing information that contradicts their initial decision.

Present deep evidence that validates buyers' smart choice of selecting your brand. People love to be right!

3. Play off the claims you make in your base marketing and advertising

Base marketing efforts communicate your positioning and key product claims, but they usually don't afford the opportunity to deliver deeper support for those claims. To be most effective, relationship marketing should go beyond restating base claims. Re-showing readers the same old ad in your relationship-building materials won't do enough to advance the understanding about how and why your brand is a great choice.

Take advantage of the opportunity to feed invested readers more proof about your product claims, and use techniques that better cement the brand deeper in the minds of these readers.

4. Tell about-the-brand stories

Next-generation relationship marketing will tell more "about-the-brand" stories—always in the interest of the reader. Unbranded content has its role, but it must be balanced with more brand-specific stories.

Here are a few ideas for telling great brand stories:

  • Educate readers about how and why the product does what you say it does.
  • Create memorable "hooks" that consumers can easily remember.
  • Explain one of your manufacturing processes or describe one of your quality control standards as if they are unique—even if they aren't.
  • Use diagrams and pictures to illustrate your point.
  • Introduce some of the real people who bring the brand to market.

5. Inspire!

Your product improves the lives of buyers. Yet we see relationship marketing programs loaded with content instructing readers how to change their bad behaviors to improve their lives. Instead, recognize that your product solves a problem that allows readers to continue and enjoy their normal life.

Guide your team to inspire the lives of your readers and strive to generate positive, hopeful feelings by promoting the benefits of using your product.

After reading each communication, ask yourself whether readers will say, "This brand is still perfect for me!"

6. Position offers and promotions in ways that build brand equity

Product savings are often too prominent a component of relationship marketing programs. A key objective of engaging with high-value customers is often to build stronger buying relationships that are less reliant on price incentives.

If you include money off coupons in your communications, consider positioning your offer with a purpose that goes beyond a plain discount. There's lots of room for creativity—for example, you might...

  • Recognize good customers with a "Thank-You" coupon.
  • Promote a new form or flavor with a "Try-it-now" coupon.
  • Encourage consumers to buy a smaller package of product to carry with them by using a "Take-it-with-you" coupon.
  • Introduce a new product to your current customers first through a "First-to-know" offer.

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Martin Reilly and Deb Rapacz specialize in relationship marketing, offering marketing executive coaching, strategic planning, marketing program design, as well as audits, workshops, and seminars. Reach Martin at 708-829-6001 or Reach Deb 708-829-6031

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