E-Newsletters--Don't Forget to Follow Up

Small manufacturers often work a combination of marketing channels to grow and sustain their businesses.

Columns From: 11/15/2012 Production Machining, , from AJ Sweatt Logic & Communications

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Small manufacturers often work a combination of marketing channels to grow and sustain their businesses. From advertising to trade shows, to online directories and social media, to their own Web sites and forums/communities, discrete parts manufacturers have several ways to market themselves.

But the energy in following up with leads or prospects is often much less than that which was applied to finding leads in the first place. An e-newsletter is an effective, inexpensive and sustainable tool to maximize your marketing investment.

E-newsletters are a form of direct mail sent to groups of prospects or customers, often periodically (monthly, quarterly, and so on). Since these newsletters are delivered electronically rather than to traditional mailing lists, small manufacturers can more easily maintain and manage lists of recipients for little cost with minimal effort. They are also a form of “permission marketing” – recipients give their permission to receive newsletters from your business, or they may decline the offer via an “opt-out.” When using these tools for your business, it is important to follow the laws set in place to prevent abuse of email and protect Internet users from it.

E-newsletters can be a powerful marketing tool when properly used and integrated within a strong marketing strategy. The core strength of newsletters is that they allow you to communicate with potential and current customers regularly, to keep them up-to-date with developments at your business.

Examples of sound topics to use in e-newsletters include: new equipment purchases/additions; training initiatives; new projects; new markets or processes; completed projects; product line information; qualifications; industry news; personnel updates; and industry events your company will be attending.

Because of the business cycles and dispositions unique to the custom manufacturing markets, e-newsletters fill an important void that most small manufacturers overlook— gaining lost work.
It’s likely your business has been passed over for jobs before—probably more than a few times. In the era of offshoring and severe pricing pressures, many of your prospects and customers are forced to select suppliers that are either at the end of extended supply chains or are the cheapest. The risks your prospects face often put them in one of two conditions: They are realizing the total cost of ownership for the parts and products from the suppliers they originally chose; or they’ve experienced a significant supply chain disruption or supplier failure, and they’re under serious duress to find a solution—right now.

A buyer in one of these conditions, 3 months after passing you over in favor of another cheaper supplier, is likely to go first to sources she’s familiar with. If this buyer has been receiving a quarterly newsletter from your business, she’s more likely to remember and re-engage you.
The bottom line is that e-newsletters help keep your business at top-of-mind with prospects and customers when they’re looking for help.

Here are some rules for writing e-newsletters:

If the e-newsletter description in this article sounds a lot like blog posts to you, then you’re paying attention. Blog posts—updated regularly—are excellent content pieces to repurpose into your newsletter, and they’ve already been written.

It is critical that you only send e-newsletters to your leads or those who have asked for them. The rampant misuse of email by oversaturation or mass mailings has resulted in negative connotations throughout commercial and business-to-business markets. This misuse has also led to legal penalties for those that abuse it through overuse or fraud, especially in email form. You could face severe fines or lawsuits because of misuse.

There are several third-party options for managing your e-newsletter campaigns. Not only are they inexpensive and reputable businesses, they make creation, maintenance, delivery, measurement and lead list management easier. They include: Constant Contact; MailChimp; and iContact.

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