We all can use more loyal customers, now isn’t that the truth. Today, getting new customers is very challenging and one sure way to maintain and increase your business is by cultivating, engaging and keeping the ones you already have. No matter if you are a retailer or a supplier, keeping your customer’s loyal is a definite key to success. With all the talk and hype about social media and marketing, the one thing that should not be overlooked is the power of newsletter marketing.

What is the purpose of a newsletter? A newsletter allows you to build market visibility while creating brand awareness and showing your customers that they are a valued customer. But remember, when creating your newsletter, make sure to add content that is relevant and interesting to your reader. Also, this is your opportunity to let your customers know all that you have to offer. Remember, not all of them may be familiar with every aspect of your business.

How often should you publish a newsletter? This is really dependent on how much time and how many resources you have. Monthly newsletters should be the goal, but if you can only do them quarterly, then time them appropriately.

To whom, how and where should I distribute the newsletter? Send the newsletter to all of your current customers if you can. Depending on your budget, you can send them electronically or in a hard copy format. Some smoke shop owners even publish a newsletter in the form of their own magazine. Remember to share an electronic version of the newsletter on all of your social media pages, in your blog if you have one and to include a link to it in your email signatures.

How do I start and what do I write about? There are many online tools available to help you start creating your own personalized newsletter. For instance, socialzing.com, constantcontact.com and verticalresponse.com are a few examples of online marketing sites that have templates you can use to help you create the newsletter. Use your own logo and colors to personalize the look. When creating content, remember to be relevant and interesting. Talk about current items of interest, how perhaps you are involved in your community, and don’t try to sell in the newsletter, be informative! You can also use this space to showcase any upcoming events you may have planned.

What is the cost and how much time will this take? This really depends on the several things. If you are going to do it yourself (or have someone on staff that you can task to do this) then really the cost would be that of the distribution. If you would like to send out the newsletter electronically, the sites referenced above have reasonable monthly rates. You can upload your email addresses and send a blast email out to your customers. It is helpful to pick a site that will allow you to get performance reports. These reports will show you how many people opened the email, who they are, if they clicked on any links, how many bounced emails you have and also tracks those that choose to unsubscribe (all newsletters must have the opt out option). Throughout the month, between newsletters, as you come across content you think is relevant, save it in a folder so that you can reference back to it when you are ready to create the newsletter.

Creating a newsletter is a great way to continue to build your business and relationships. Once you commit to it, make sure you do it. Inform your customers that you will be sending it out and create a calendar for yourself to remember when you should send it. Not all your customers may be aware of everything you have to offer. Newsletters are not only a great way to help maintain and build your customer base, but also a great avenue for you to bring to light new products or services that you are offering, will keep your business top of mind and will also give you a reason to actively seek out home or email addresses from customers, giving you a greater opportunity to market yourself. SSA

AnnArnoldHeadShotAnn Arnold is an expert in manufacturing and finance. She earned her CPA working for Deloitte, and was the VP and later CEO of Lieberfarb. This 27 year industry veteran is the founder and president of the Arnold Advisory Group, LLC, a comprehensive consultancy dedicated to helping clients increase their efficiency through financial modeling and analysis, time management and organizational strategies, and best business practices. To learn more, email [email protected]