Boost sales with a newsletter, part 2

Citation metadata

Date: Mar. 17, 1995
From: Video Business(Vol. 15, Issue 11)
Publisher: Reed Business Information, Inc. (US)
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,435 words

Document controls

Main content

Full Text: 

Deciding what should go in a store newsletter is the first step (VB, 3/10). In the second in a two-part series, advertising experts offer advice on other considerations in using this effective marketing tool.

Publish regularly. The greatest benefit of a newsletter is its ability to create a relationship between store and customer. Capitalize on this quality by publishing frequently.

"If you wait too long between mailings, people do not get in the habit of depending on the newsletter for ideas," noted June McDowell, president of McDowell & Associates, Thomasville, N.C. "People put it aside with the idea of reading it later, rather than reading it fight away." For that reason, she likes a monthly frequency.

Bernie Marks, president of Marks Advertising, a Northbrook, Ill., agency specializing in retail clients, believes that you should mail "often enough to make the newsletter a habit but not so often that it becomes tiresome."

The implication here is that the reader can be turned off by receiving too much mail. You can avoid this by making sure that each issue includes lots of news and suggestions that the reader can put to use fight away. "Always include something newsy, so recipients won't get burned out," Marks advised.

Keep each article short. Readers are turned off by lengthy articles, particularly those that look as though they were stretched to fit. "I suggest 'bulletizing' your stories," said Dave Voracek, president of The Marketing Department, a consulting firm in Alexandria, Va. "Write a series of articles only one or two paragraphs long. Have your printer put a bullet at the start of each article. Readers appreciate lots of items that they can read fast and use right away."

Make the design easy to read. Avoid "overdesigning" the newsletter so that art work overwhelms. The best design goes unnoticed, seasoning the communication and making the newsletter easy to read.

"Keep the newsletter design simple," suggested Francey Smith, creative director at Customer Development Corp., a marketing firm in Downers Grove, Ill. "Consumers are time-poor and don't want to be confused by a design that gets in the way of the copy. While the newsletter should be attention-getting in the mailbox, excessive decoration or colors that are hard to read will cause the customer to ignore it."

In considering design, make some key decisions with regard to size, type-face, layout, illustrations, and color. For a rundown on what you need, see the box "Design for success."

Keep adding to your mailing list. More than any other form of advertising, newsletters can be targeted. Although the cost to reach 1,000 customers for a newsletter will be much higher than the cost to reach the same number of people with a newspaper ad, the targeted nature of a newsletter means that your sales per thousand will be much higher. And that means the cost per thousand sales will be much lower than for any other form of advertising.

To make the newsletter work, you need to add new names all the time. The most direct way to do this is to invite customers to fill out cards when they visit your store. You can also get names when customers pay with personal checks.

You can ask your local newspaper for mailing lists sorted by zip code, which would allow you to target individuals in your vicinity. However, it would be too expensive to mail your newsletter to everyone within shopping distance of your store. What you can do instead is to mail promotional postcards to broader groups. These cards can contain coupons that the recipients can use to obtain a discount on rentals at your store. Once the recipients visit your store, their names can be taken down and added to your store list.

Once your store list is in place, you can divide the names by interest so that your marketing can be quite sophisticated. "I know a lot of retailers who have their customer marketing file computerized and highly developed," said Smith. "They segment it by product, lifestyle, dollar amount, frequency of rental. Then they use those segments as guides to what to say in the direct-mail letters, sale notices, invitations to parties, and advance notices about special deals."

"Newsletters are extremely powerful tools for increasing sales," said McDowell. "For the price of one good full-page ad you can send a lot of newsletters out. They belong in everyone's repertoire of marketing tools."

RELATED ARTICLE: Team up with other retailers

Looking to economize on a newsletter? "Share the costs with non-competing businesses in your neighborhood," suggested Liz Tahir, a New Orleans retail marketing consultant. "Produce a newsletter that will promote all the stores to a single mailing list of individuals."

Bonus: Each store in this cooperative effort can share the labor as well as the expense.

RELATED ARTICLE: Design for success

Spend time designing your newsletter. A poorly designed one will turn off more customers than it attracts. You may want to hire a professional designer to set up a standard format that you can use every month.

"Your newsletter needs to look reasonably expert," said Bernie Marks, president of Marks Advertising, Northbrook, Ill. "Desktop-publishing programs can make design of each issue automatic."

Follow these hints:

Four pages is about as long as you want. "Eight pages is okay if you have enough interesting material," opined Murray Raphel, president of Raphel Marketing, Atlantic City, N.J. "But most people won't spend more than five minutes reading your newsletter."

Use the same design each issue. "You want the reader to recognize the newsletter as a familiar friend," said Raphel. "And keeping sections in the same positions makes it easy to read."

Avoid unusual typefaces. Select a fancy typeface for your masthead if your designer thinks it's a good idea. But your main copy should have a straightforward typeface that does not draw attention to itself. A common choice is Times Roman. Use at least a 10-point size so that people can read it easily.

Break up the copy. Don't let articles run on and on for long stretches. Write short articles. And break up the page with photographs, cartoons and plenty of white space.

Use two colors. The extra expense swill more than pay for itself in customer response. June McDowell, president of McDowell & Associates, Thomasville, N.C., offers this money-saving trick: "Have your masthead preprinted in one color in a quantity large enough for many issues. Then print the smaller quantities of your newsletter every month in the second color, on the same paper." Another technique is to use colored paper with black print.

RELATED ARTICLE: Self-mailers cut costs

To cut back on the cost - and the time - involved in producing your store newsletter, don't overlook the common technique of printing the newsletter in a self-mailer format. Eliminating the envelope means you save not only the cost of the envelope but also the extra postage required to mail it. And you save the time it takes to stuff and seal the envelope every issue.

These self-mailers are printed on a fairly thick paper so that they don't get rumpled in the mail. Ask your post office about the advisability of affixing a sticker at the edge of the mailer to keep them closed. Some self-mailers are simply folded and dropped in the mail as-is, and seem to survive their trip.

RELATED ARTICLE: Getting the job done

Who will design and print your newsletter? You can handle the task in-house or farm it out.

Do it yourself. Chances are one of your employees may already use a desktop-publishing program. Once you have your newsletter edited and error-free with one of these programs, you print out a copy on your laser printer. Then you take that copy to your local print shop and have as many newsletters run off as you need.

Here are two examples of relatively inexpensive software programs for the PC:

* The latest version of WordPerfect, a popular word-processing program, comes with standard newsletter designs. You just add your own articles to a pre-designed newsletter. (Word-Perfect, 270 W. Center St., Orem, Utah 84057-9927; 800/451-5151). Price: $250 at many computer stores.

* Microsoft Publisher comes with lots of designs and clip art. (Microsoft, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Wash. 98052-6399; 800/426-9400). Price: $90 at many computer stores.

Hire an agency. A local advertising agency will handle everything, from writing to design to negotiating with a printer. Get bids from a couple of agencies.

Hire a freelancer. Hunt around for a student who has a computer and wants to make some extra money.

Susan Qualtrough is a New York-based writer specializing in business topics.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A16749739