I was re-reading Flight Plan, by Brian Tracy, last night. It's a book about goal-setting (and sticking to those goals). This is, after all, the traditional season of goals - 2010 planning around the Christmas tree and all that.
But goal setting isn't what this message is about.
Near the start of this book is a reference to the great business guru Peter Drucker. He said that most of the misunderstandings in business and finance could be eliminated if we just replaced the word "success" with the word "contribution."
Brian Tracy then says: "When you look around, you will find that the wealthiest people are those who are making the greatest contributions to the greatest number of people. They are producing products and services that large numbers of people are willing and eagerly buying to improve the quality of their own lives."
Wise words indeed.
I'm trying to take this approach with my newsletters and my businesses.
After all, rule number one for newsletters is: write for your readers. That means you include articles in your newsletter that help your readers do their job better and make their lives easier.
Then, if you include calls to action and offers, you'll find that business will come to you.
You've contributed...so you get.
You've provided value up front....so you attract money back.
For some people, this means an abrupt 180 turn. Their newsletters had been all about them.
"I'm great, choose me."
They had been all about getting.
Getting business - no matter what.
But when you make this flip, not only does your newsletter become more effective... but it also becomes so much more fun.
Instead of thinking of yourself - what you can get out of the newsletter - you start thinking of your clients - how you can help them.
That simple act makes you feel good.
And then the business comes.
I hope you find (as I did) that this is a valuable message as we near Christmas, the season of giving.
I wish you a happy holiday season - and many chances to contribute in 2010.
A short video for you today about how you can learn from in-flight magazines when putting together a customer newsletter.
1) Make it interesting to your readers, not all about you. Yes, some of your own personality is important, but don't make the content all about your business. First, concentrate on what your clients want to read - what interests them.
2) Include ads. By joining with other local vendors, you could pay for the production of your own newsletter.
OK, let me get the wisecracks about the title of this post over with right away - in case I lose my residency in Ontario.
No, Canada's second currency isn't the US dollar.
And it's not the euro either, as an earnest store associate suggested to a friend last week in upstate New York. "Would you like to pay with euros?"
No, Canada's second currency is Canadian Tire Money.
For those of you not in the know, Canadian Tire is an iconic retailer up here - it sells everything from auto parts to barbecues, passing through tools and housewares on the way.
Some people hate it (you can never find an associate) but more, I think, love it.
Canadian Tire is piled to the roof with cool stuff you can mess around with on weekends.
And it gives you money.
Spend enough at the cash and you get Canadian Tire money back, in "real" bills you can use at the retailer. Now, these bills are measured in cents, not dollars (for the most part) but it's like...real...money.
There's been talk recently about Canadian Tire doing away with the bills. Indeed, there's an announcement on the reward program's future today. Maybe they'll replace it with electronic rewards - like most other retailers - but there's also talk of introducing a Canadian Tire dollar coin.
We shall see.
But doing away with the paper money would be a big mistake. And not only for the ebay folks who collect the stuff.
You see, there's something special about paper. You can touch it - feel it crinkle. And you can carry it around with you - it pokes out at you from between the real money and frayed receipts.
And when you keep seeing it there, you remember to go back to Canadian Tire and spend it. Hey - I've got $2 in money I can use towards that $400 drill press I've been lusting after. Betta spend that quick!
I think that's super-powerful.
So - you can see how it relates to newsletters, can't you?
Now, I'm not one of these guys who says print newsletters are the only way to go. Or, for that matter, email only.
I'm platform flexible.
For the newsletters I send to my own clients, I started out with print, then switched to email. And next year I'll be sending print newsletters again to select people in my database.
After all, it's about what works - what brings the best return on investment. Email is cheap...but print can work better.
Why? Because it's physical. You can't just hit the delete button on it.
Print newsletters stick around. Articles get clipped and pasted on the refrigerator. (I know this happens with the newsletters I make for members.)
You can read them in the bathroom.
So I urge you - and Canadian Tire, because of course they are reading - to keep the faith in print. By all means use electronic methods too, but don't forget the power of "real" money reminding you that it's there to be spent.