Here’s my first question for you: Do you think you would have more business if you had lunch with every one of your clients, customers and prospects once each month?
Not a sales presentation, I’m talking about a simple lunch. You and the other person, one on one, talking about your businesses, your families, your hobbies, whatever.
Never mind the cost or the impossible logistics, what do you think? Would a monthly lunch help your business?
When I ask this question of people the answer is invariably, “Yes.” Here are the kinds of things they say:
• “I would know more about them and what their business needs are.”
• “They would know more about my company and what we do.”
• “We would develop a stronger, more personal relationship.”
• “If I ate that many lunches I would weigh 850 pounds.”
Here’s my second question: What do you think would happen if every time you got together for lunch, you tried to sell them something?
Here’s the answer I always get: “They would stop having lunch with me!”
The reason I bring up this lunchtime scenario, is that when it comes to how you develop and manage your enewsletter, there are a number of similarities:
• An electronic newsletter is the next best thing to all those lunches. It’s not as personal or as interactive certainly, but it does function as kind of an electronic proxy for all those face-to-face interactions that can’t possibly happen in the physical world. It puts you in front of your target audience on a regular schedule, and in a nonthreatening context.
• Relationships lead to growth. There are tangible, measurable, undeniable business benefits associated with relationship building. All those lunches, as nonlinear and unstructured as they may be, have results. I can’t tell you beforehand where or when or exactly how, but just as face-to-face lunches create a kind of “orchestrated serendipity” for your business, so too will your enewsletter shake loose opportunities.
• Focusing on the desired result (i.e. more sales) at the expense of the relationship, eliminates both. If you use a relationship building opportunity to make a sales pitch, not only do you eat a lot of lunches by yourself, you also eliminate one of the easiest, most efficient means for growing your business. It’s certainly fine to talk about what you do, but you can’t make it the center of the conversation. As far as your enewsletter goes, if it becomes nothing more than a telemarketing call in disguise, people will unsubscribe, putting an end to both the conversation and any related future opportunities.
Bottom Line: Effective enewsletters — newsletters that increase sales, increase referrals, reduce acquisition costs and reduce customer turnover — require that you turn the selling machine off. Like a cherished lunchtime companion, a good enewsletter focuses on offering relevant, useful, interesting information to readers, with an emphasis on providing — not extracting — value.
See you next time, and until then, Bon appetit!