Talking about the negatives of email is a dangerous thing to do given that I’m convinced that email is still the killer app…that is, it’s still the most effective communication tool we have in marketing today.
It’s cheap…it can be short or long (and I know mine are sometimes too long)…and it’s very effective when done well.
But what about all the other forms of communication, online and offline?
You know I write about many of them every Sunday but I have never explored one that was such a big part of my career.
And I have noticed more and more people asking me about it too.
It is—wait for it—print newsletters.
Considering I marketed one of the most successful print newsletters ever with my staff at Boardroom—Bottom Line/Personal—and I consult with many folks today who want to add a print newsletter to their offerings—I went back to an interview I did with Mike Capuzzi about 5 years ago called The Power of Newsletters.
Re-listening to this interview, it still holds up and it may be more relevant today than ever before.
I invite you to listen to it now or later. There are so many aspects to this rich topic.
I’ll share some of the observations here on the many dimensions (and the evolution) of this format– in case you prefer email to audio. 🙂
But the audio covers a lot more.
When Marty Edelston started Boardroom Reports in 1972 (I was in junior high school for those of you who think I am older than I am), he decided to publish a “newsletter” rather than a magazine because he would have needed around $500,000 to launch a glossy magazine with advertising at the time–but he was able to launch a newsletter on a (relative) shoestring
Shoestring (with no investors or anyone who believed in his idea) was equal to approximately $25,000, his life savings at the time.
He launched that newsletter successfully and the company was born.
For those of you who don’t know what a newsletter is, it’s a publication with no advertising, vertical or specialized content…and it must survive for the most part on revenue from subscriptions and renewals (and I emphasize renewals—like I did numerous times in Overdeliver when discussing lifetime value).
It was a struggle at first for us–but with the development of a book business (which I talked about recently in If you can’t make it, buy it) and a switch to broad based consumer and health publications (which I outline in detail in Branding without getting hives) the company flourished.
List rental income also helped (read Guilty until proven innocent if you want that story)…as did building on our expertise in direct mail list selection…and last but not least, reliance on only the best copywriters to create the promotions for our newsletters (and books).
With that formula, we re-defined the traditional newsletter business.
That is, the newsletter business that was the most profitable at the time was what I have often dubbed “500 or 1,000 subscribers at $500 to $1000 each”; Boardroom/Bottom Line was more like 500,000 subscribers at $39 each…a much tougher nut to crack and one that I believe you would struggle to launch today.
Many of the most successful newsletters were (and are) business-to-business, on a narrow topic or in a specialized niche, and very pricey…we were breaking new ground with our business-to-consumer approach at $39, with a “bill me later” offer rather than cash or credit card with order.
We were a newsletter marketing like a magazine.
Kind of like “Razzles” for publishing. 🙂
In my interview with Mike Capuzzi, I go deep on all of this and I think it’s pretty good–but you can decide for yourself—it’s about 40 minutes long.
But with that history of Boardroom in mind, what lessons can we learn and apply them today?
Simply put, a print newsletter in the online marketing world today is differentiation.
Having digital (online) courses and training is a fantastic business model…but I would suggest that possibly putting a print newsletter on the back end of that online business is additive, not redundant.
If you have some things you want your tribe reading slowly on their back deck (or in the bathroom) when they take a break from their computer screens, giving it to them in print is worth looking into, whether free as an add-on…or if it’s really specialized (additional) content, for an added charge.
It is also a way to accentuate your expertise.
Marie Forleo, a world class marketer, says (and I am paraphrasing):
“What would you do if you were the best in the world at something?”
“Where are you beyond making a profit?”
I think doing a print newsletter on the back of an online business supports her awesome premise:
Giving more of your genius in a tangible (and higher perceived value) format can only enhance what you are doing being the best in the world; and it’s also a way to over deliver to your best customers which will lead to more profit whether you want it or not.
A print newsletter (or dare I suggest physical product on the back end of your digital business) is a way to create something bigger than you ever imagined.
I recall attending an online marketing conference some years ago and there was a speaker on the last day who said he had the “secret to marketing on the internet”–and it was the phenomena called “physical product.”
I might not go that far but newsletters and physical products are certain to set you apart.
“Online marketers” such as Ben Settle and Doberman Dan (and I hate calling them that because it does a disservice to them), use their print newsletters as the key component of their business (billed monthly and worth every penny)–in addition to having robust and regular email correspondence with their online families.
And they have both created books of all kinds…see the P.S. for Dan’s latest and I will tell you about Ben’s in a subsequent post (and no affiliate commissions for me on any of this of course).
I simply want you to see these examples to understand the power of print content (in this case books) as an addition to digital content.
With Dan and Ben, online subscribers read their emails when they can; but they devourthe print newsletters when they arrive in their (fairly empty) mailboxes.
Well that’s how I consume their content. And I have all of their books too.
I’ve said this before and I’ll repeat it here:
“The least crowded In Box is the one at the end of your driveway or in the lobby of your building.”
But it’s not just because you have the mailboxes to yourself…you are also where so few of your competitors are (I would imagine).
And if you are 100% online you may be asking how you can compile postal addresses of your customers.
If you sell via a credit card, I believe you have a mailing address of every buyer…and remember, direct mail is an “opt out” medium (i.e. you can mail them without having them opt in as with email).
That might be a topic for another day…but it’s in my book Overdeliver in chapter 3, “How Paying Postage Made Me a Better Marketer.”
There’s a lot more about newsletters in the interview I did with Mike:
I encourage you to listen to it…but even if you don’t, consider sharing your content (and genius) in “In Boxes” and “Mail Boxes” alike.
I’m glad I made it into your In Box today.
P.S. My good friend Doberman Dan, one of my heroes, uses email and a print newsletter strategically and masterfully.
It’s a penny plus shipping and handling (obviously a bargain) –and he’s offering three (3) bonuses with it as well (a Sales Copy Template, a Sales Copy Formula and an Online Seminar).
I get no money for this—and in fact I went to Dan and asked if I could offer it to my online family when I published my piece today mentioning him—and he said yes (of course he did)!
I know with his book, you will be able to learn from an expert relationship builder who understands the power of “O to O to O” (online to offline to online) and meeting your customers where they want to be met.
After more than three decades as a serial “bootstrap” entrepreneur… almost a quarter of a century as a direct response marketer and “A list” copywriter… and having started his first online business all the way back in the wild, wild, west days of the Internet in 1996…Dan has shocked the marketing world with his new book revealing an entirely new selling model.
It’s all revealed in Just Sell The Damn Thing
I’ve known Dan for years and his track record speaks for itself.
His contrarian strategy debunks so much of what’s out there and supports the premise in my post above…and so much more.
I thought you would like the opportunity to buy his book for a penny plus shipping and handling.
I already have.
P.P.S. And if you missed my email last week about the legacy of Jim Rutz and the offer for his swipe file Read This or Die: The Lost Files of Jim Rutz, click here to read it.
And if you simply want to order the product, click here.
It’s over 200 promotions from Jim’s archives plus letters, an interview, a webinar and lots more—all on one USB thumb drive.