A gourmet supermarket near me is running a competition for customers, with a $650 prize for the winner. It’s fairly easy to enter – you simply fill in an entry form and go into a draw:
Nothing remarkable about that alone, but they have gone even further and set up a beautiful table display near the shop entrance, promoting the competition:
Why are they going to all this trouble? Sure, they might get a few extra customers through the door because they have heard about the competition from friends. But that’s not their main purpose. Their goal is to build a database of customers, so they can keep marketing to them in the future.
What does this have to do with your business?
If you’re thinking about how to promote your business online, it’s easy to be tempted by the latest and greatest Internet marketing tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Foursquare, iPhone apps, and the like. Some of those things can work, but they are probably not the best Internet marketing tool for you.
The best Internet marketing tool in your business is an e-mail newsletter.
There, I’ve said it! I know, I know, it’s not as sexy, glamorous, or hip as some of the other things (and e-mail is so twentieth-century!), but an e-mail newsletter is more powerful, for four reasons.
1. Build a Relationship
Whatever business you’re in, it’s important to build strong, trusted, valued relationships with the people who matter. By staying in regular, consistent communication with your clients and prospects (with their permission), you’re building your relationship with them. An e-mail newsletter allows you to do that cost-effectively, easily and non-intrusively.
Most people won’t trust you immediately – especially on the Internet. If they’re coming to your Web site for the first time, start a relationship with them. Your newsletter does that.
For those who are already in relationship with you – including your current clients – the newsletter continues and strengthens that relationship.
2. Stay “Front of Mind”
One-time marketing almost never works. In other words, most people who buy from you will do so on the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, contact with you – maybe even more. So if you market to them once, and it doesn’t work, and you give up, you’re losing most of your potential business. The customers are there, they just haven’t yet moved from “interested” to “ready to buy”.
When you publish an e-mail newsletter, when they are ready to buy, you’re there in front of them.
3. Lead with Value
Your customers, clients and audiences are no longer buying purely on price or on the quality of your product or service. Instead, they’re buying the value that you offer. So the more you can be seen as an expert who offers value, the more likely that they are to buy from you. After all, if you require heart surgery, you’re not going to say, “Get me the cheapest heart surgeon!”
A good e-mail newsletter delivers value. It demonstrates expertise. It builds trust. It establishes credibility. It positions you as an authority.
4. Push, Not Pull
Most of the other Internet marketing tools I’ve mentioned rely on people coming to you (visiting your blog, coming back to your Facebook page regularly, noticing your tweets in their Twitter stream, and so on). An e-mail newsletter, on the other hand, allows you to push your material out to them. Of course, you have to push valuable material, but you get the huge benefit of being in control.
So where is YOUR e-mail newsletter?
If you have a newsletter that you’re sending at least once a month (and perhaps even every week or two weeks), with high-quality content, to people who have given you permission to send it to them … Congratulations – you’re on the right track!
If you don’t have a newsletter yet, get started now! It really is likely to be the best Internet marketing tool in your business.