Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Business Chat - Newsletters

“Wow, these are fabulous! I love them!”
Don’t you love hearing this? Except when it’s followed by, “If only I had some money.” “I’ll buy these for my sister’s birthday – in 6 months.” “They’d make great Christmas gifts, where can I find you at Christmas?” or some other similar comments.

So what do you do when you hear this? The most common response is “gee thanks, here’s my business card.” In 6 months time when the customer is looking for Christmas gifts your business card is at the bottom of her purse and there is another artist in her face at a craft show or in her email inbox. You need to stay of people’s radar screens on a regular basis. It is not the customer’s job to stay in touch with you - it is your job to stay in touch with the customer.

One of the best methods of keeping in touch is with a newsletter. A newsletter can by your secret weapon for creating long-term residual sales and building a fan base around your work that sells it for you. They are great for letting people know what craft shows you’ll be at, what new work you have or if you have a new online sales venue. They make it easy for the customer to give you money.

Of course sending out a newsletter means that you have a list to send it to. The obvious place to get people for your list is to ask them. When you’re at a craft show and you hear the inevitable, “gee I love it but I have no money”, rather than getting discouraged (don't be reactive) ask them if they’d like to be on your mailing list (be proactive). Hand them a clipboard with a sign up sheet and get their name and email. Putting a book in your booth and expecting people to sign up is a waste of time, again you’re asking the customer to do your job. And the only ones who will sign up are 4 years old and don’t have money or email. You should also collect names and emails on your web site and blog (you do have a blog don’t you?)

When people sign up for your list, let them know what they’ll be receiving. “Would you like to sign up for my monthly newsletter? I send this out to keep my customers informed of shows I’ll be at and what’s new in my world. I promise, I never sell my list or send junk mail”.

How often you should send a newsletter is up to you. It depends on how good of a writer you are and how much you have to say. Some artists write weekly. Some write a couple of times a year. Personally I send mine out monthly. I find this keeps me in their vision without annoying busy people. Whatever time frame you decide on the most important thing is to be consistent. Remember, branding means consistency. If you promise people it’s a monthly newsletter and then send it every 6 – 9 weeks you’ve broken your promise and broken their trust.

While it’s easy to send out email from any email service you should use an email management service. Never send out email with all the recipients listed as a “CC”, those names are private. Also sending out to a large group will have your email marked as spam by most mail filters. Email management services will integrate your web and blog sign up forms with your list for you, track the number of people who open your emails and the number of clicks your email generates. It will also allow people to unsubscribe should they decide to. Tracking your newsletters shows you what sections of your email generate the most response and what’s actually working.

3 good email management services are:


For those starting out with a list of less than 500 is my recommendation. It’s free. Free is good.

Next week we’ll talk about what to put in your newsletter.

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