Many marketing programs fail every day, no matter how much money is set aside for them. They do not reach their target audience. They do not make their sales goals.

One reason may be lack of market research. Or it may be a poor message. Mostly it comes down to whether the marketer tried to solve the prospect's problems, or tried to sell products or services.

When your prospects trust that your demonstration of value is repeatable and applicable to them, they buy. It's as simple as that.

Solving Problems Versus Selling

Traditional advertising forces the recipient of an ad, direct mail newsletter, or telemarketer's call to make an immediate choice; she has to decide if she needs the product at the moment she receives contact. That's bad pressure from an unfamiliar source, which causes most advertising to fall short. Marketers are shouting, “buy, buy, buy!!!” without paying attention to what their customers and prospects need.

E-newsletter marketing, on the other hand, is less intrusive than traditional advertising. It provides an alternative that is more appealing to most readers, and is more effective because each e-newsletter delivers value to your customers and prospects on a regular basis. Plus, you can track which articles are most read, i.e., which information is most important to your readers.

Advertising guru David Olgilvy (1911-1999) said, “There is no need for advertisements to look like advertisements. If you make them look like editorial pages, you will attract about 50 percent more readers.”

That statement holds true in e-newsletter marketing. Rather than one to three percent of readers opening a direct mail piece and requesting more information, over 50 percent of recipients click on e-newsletter articles to get more information.

Information Relevant to Readers

In the B2B world, it is important that you help reader's solve their day-to-day problems, help them stay better informed about industry trends, deliver business critical information, and save time.

Solve customers' day-to-day business problems. If you're like most employees, you've faced an on-the-job issue others have confronted, but you weren't sure where to turn for the solution. When you create an e-newsletter, try changing your focus from selling products and services to solving your customers' problems. Think about what they need and give options they don't know exist; options that are related to their every day work life.

For example, in the financial services industry, during a strong economic downturn, one e-newsletter provider knew from tracking survey responses that several people were facing dilemmas concerning where to invest company money for the best possible return. An article appeared in the next e-newsletter, researched from a wide variety of sources, suggesting several options for better investment choices. Tracking showed this article was the most read of the issue; and the article's survey results were favorable.

Usually, if a few people in an industry are looking for a solution, it's a good indicator that others are facing the same problem.

Keep your readers informed. Another dilemma that we all confront is too much information and too little time. The e-newsletter's job is to keep readers on top of trends and the latest developments in the industry. Aim for articles and feature stories to meet one of the following criteria by including either: major industry occurrences, forward thinking industry ideas, education on issues or new techniques, or business opportunities.

In an e-newsletter for the professional services industry, a survey respondent writes, “If you aren't learning, you're dead.” Education is highly valued in an overworked, understaffed workforce without an on-staff guru for guidance in every area of their business.

Deliver business-critical information. Whether your clients work out of a corporate or home office, employees need answers to questions and tips for improving business activities. E-newsletters provide you with an opportunity to point out work inefficiencies, and share relevant best practice info, which lets your readers:

  • Compare real experiences from different companies around the world
  • Read results of other companies' implementations
  • See how intelligent companies effectively market their products or services
  • Discover new and more efficient ways of doing things with concrete business techniques and tools
  • Remain up to date on key information necessary for business growth

Save time. We're all looking for ways to save time. If you could, you'd be at your child's birthday party, create a business presentation, make a sale, and attend an online meeting at the same time, right?

Even if your obligations are different, none of us are superhuman. As an e-newsletter distributor, you can save readers' precious time:

  • Sifting through vast amounts of information to determine what is relevant to your readers—saving them research time
  • Distilling information by choosing the pertinent articles from a variety of sources
  • Focusing topics on their interests, which you can learn about through reader surveys and tracking most-read articles
  • Providing a cross flow of ideas from sources which may be unfamiliar to your readers
  • Presenting valuable information in an easy-to-read format that can be quickly scanned

What it comes down to is consistently delivering value to customers by solving their problems, and making their job easier.

Sign up for free to read the full article. Enter your email address to keep reading ...


Hank Stroll ( is publisher at InternetVIZ, a custom publisher of 24 B2B e-newsletters reaching 490,000 business executives.

Tamara is a writer at InternetVIZ and is available for freelance work.