Defending the Obama Duck

I only got one disgruntled email after last week’s newsletter, but that does tell me that there are at least a handful of you that I either pissed off or mildly annoyed. The good news is that it opened the door to a marketing lesson.

Why would I use the Obama duck as the promotional product example when I don’t honestly think any business will particularly benefit from using that item to promote themselves? 2 reasons:

    • Reason #1 – Open Rate: I send out over 60,000 e-Newsletters each week. Not everyone opens it. My subject line largely determines how many of you will open the email and read it. I don’t usually use my main article as an introduction to a new product we are offering – I try to keep my newsletter interesting, and NOT a sales pitch – but we did need to announce that we are selling these promotional products now.

      If my subject line was something like “PostcardMania now sells promotional products,” my open rate would have been much lower. Although my article was not political at all (I’m happy to help all business owners regardless of their race, creed, color, religion or political bent), I think the open rate was higher because people wanted to see about my politics. But alas, my mom taught me to steer clear of politics and religion in social and business settings. I’m not much of a hater, whether someone agrees with me or not — so I’ll leave this one alone and not get half my readership riled up!

  • Reason #2 – Search Engines: “Obama Duck” will get noticed by search engines more than “promotional mug” or “logo pen.” Aside from sending the newsletter to my subscribers, we also upload the main article to my blog. The search engines scan all the blogs for content and certain words will get picked up more than others. Since Obama is our president, his name is very popular.

So, today’s article is about newsletters. I continuously learn more and more, and I want to share. (I know I can always improve, and if you’ve been getting my newsletter for a while, you have seen it morph.) After several years of this, I’ve done enough testing and tracking of open rates and leads to be able to educate others about it.

Why have a newsletter? A newsletter is a great way to not only stay in touch with customers and prospects, but also it’s a way to become “real” to your database. Staying in communication via the newsletter and the blog definitely separates us from our competition because you get to know us (and me) a little. I am a person, not some “corporation.” Sure, ultimately I want you to buy from us, but in order to get you to see we are the best, I need to let you get to know us and me. So, tip #1: Put your face on it.

You don’t have to be a pro writer. You just need to care that what you’re saying will assist the reader in some way and increase their affinity for you and your company.

Your subscribers are somewhere in the sales process: either they are mildly interested, strongly interested, ready to buy, or thinking they may never buy. But they haven’t unsubscribed, so they are still a potential sale for you. Your purpose is to increase the rapport you have with them and move them through these beginning stages of the sales process until they are ready to either speak to a sales rep, or come into your store, or get their teeth cleaned, or have their car detailed, or whatever it is you need them to do. Tip #2: Figure out your purpose for having the newsletter, and use that to build rapport.

The hardest thing for me in writing the newsletter is coming up with what I think YOU will find interesting and informative. It’s important to understand your subscribers and try to write with them in mind. My audience is mainly business owners. I usually try to educate you about some successful thing we are doing or some unsuccessful thing you should stay away from. Tip #3: Find subject matter that will be interesting to your readers.

Understand the problems they are trying to solve. I have been told that I should put more “personal” information about myself and my activities in my newsletter. I am warming up to this idea, but haven’t quite gotten there yet. 🙂

Hey, can you vote here if you would like me to have a personal section in my newsletter? Do you want to hear a bit about my trip to England with my son that just graduated from high school? Or that I’m on a plane right now headed to San Francisco to speak at a convention about mailing lists? Tip #4: Make it somewhat personal — let your readers get to know you.

Make sure your newsletter looks as professional as you are. If it looks too home-grown, people will assume you are a one-man band. Well, this is an easy one nowadays. There are enough companies out there that help you create your own very professional looking e-newsletter. Check out Constant Contact, iContact, or VerticalResponse, to name a few. Tip #5: Research the various companies and choose one that is right for you. The three I named are all very good.

As I’m writing this, I am realizing that I can go on and on. Instead, I’ll recommend a book you can buy on the subject: “The Magic of Newsletter Marketing” by Jim Palmer.

As always, if you want to ask me anything about business or marketing, just email me and I will answer you personally.

Joy Gendusa

Joy Gendusa founded PostcardMania in 1998 with a phone, computer and no capital investment. Since then, she has grown the company into one of the nation's most effective direct mail marketing firms, specializing in postcard marketing for small to large-sized businesses. Over the years, she expanded to offer mailing list acquisition, website development, email marketing–all while continuing to educate clients with free marketing advice.

She has been named Tampa Bay CEO of the Year, Business Woman of the Year in Tampa Bay and has been featured on MSNBC's "Your Business." PostcardMania is an Inc. 500 and 5000 company and has won awards for creativity, best business practices and leadership. Find Joy on Google+

If you would like to interview Joy or book her as a speaker, please email joyspeak@postcardmania.com or call 1-800-628-1804 ext. 281.

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