Patty won for three reasons:
- Excellent results from her newsletters
- Excellent use of the customization features - she really made the newsletters hers
- Excellent and innovative marketing techniques using newsletters.
Below is her contest entry. It's worth reading all of it to learn a thing or two, but I've highlighted the parts that I think are most interesting.
And if you don't think this applies to you because you're not in insurance...think again. They things that Patty has done are relevant to ALL industries.
Below I've written about some customization she did that really made a difference.
There are also links to four months of her newsletters, so you can take a look at them.
I'll post again in the future with news of the runners up.
Describe your business before using newsletters
(Tell us about any issues you had about getting clients, making sales or developing your business.)
In developing our business we use workshops, monthly postcard mailers and networking. These avenues will create additional business but they are expensive and slow going. Marketing gurus always suggest having a newsletter as part of your marketing strategy.
We used another newsletter service for a short time. It was poorly formatted, impossible to edit, quite boring, and worst of all no one even cared about getting the newsletter. It became apparent that a change to the newsletter was a priority. Thank goodness for the internet – HELLO Simon. It was exactly what I was looking for.
Insurance is a touchy subject to broach with people at networking events. Once they find out your in insurance bodies stiffen, eyes glaze over and they fumble for an excuse to get away. Ok not all the time but the newsletter has become a great ice breaker and has softened the image of the business.
Describe your business after using newsletters
(Tell us how your business changed. Did you get more clients? If so, how many? How much extra income did you make? Did they benefit your business in any other way?)
After starting your service in September 2009, we received positive responses from our clients. And some clients actually had the guts to mention how bad the old newsletter was. Ouch!
Every one seems to enjoy a different part of the newsletter. Some enjoy the Sudoku puzzles, while others are crossword diehards. Some parents actually acted on the North Pole postmark article and appreciated that something for children was included. Got some chuckles from ‘Resolutions of Past’. Women loved the ‘Food Rules to Live By’ – they want more diet tips. And we received more written testimonials and inquiries about our Financial Literacy Lectures.
But of course the best part is when both clients and prospects talk about the insurance articles. “I remember reading…..” That phrase usually converts to a sale. Some comment they didn’t realize we offered a particular type of coverage, another sales conversion. It has also created awareness of products they didn’t know existed.
Sales made as a direct result of a particular article:
¨ ‘Key Person Insurance for Small Business Owners’ – 2 business polices issued.
¨ ‘Time for a New Year Review of Your Life Insurance’ – 2 permanent policies and 1 term policy.
¨ The free report ‘Preserving & Enhancing Your Retirement Funds’ 1 annuity policy written.
¨ ‘The Three Supplementals’ article, March 2010 - 5 disability policies. Talk about swift action!
This is what we can directly attribute to the newsletter. This may seem modest to most, but huge for us. Since September 2009 we have added 24 new clients. Our clients mention our newsletter often in conversation and seem to appreciate receiving the newsletter. This intangible benefit of a newsletter cannot be measured.
The business has benefited in other ways not expected. We have found that giving a current copy of the newsletter in addition to our company brochure has produced more results then just the brochure alone.
In attending a meeting at our FMO (insurance field marketing organization), the head of the FMO was outlining marketing ideas to improve sales. The last point he hit on was the benefit of producing a newsletter. To my astonishment, he held up one of our newsletters as an example of how it should be done. SNAP! Received brownie points with the FMO.
In the March issue, we wanted to experiment with strategic partnerships by offering a spot in our newsletter for more referrals. Too soon to measure a response but word did get around one networking group and the kissing up has now begun for those who want the business exposure.
Describe how you used newsletters to get these
(Tell us how you distribute your newsletters, how often, and who to. Tell us anything else we need to know about your newsletter program.)
We distribute the newsletter monthly. The print version is for our clients. We enclose a bonus flyer with the print version, eliminating an extra mail drop, saving on postage and envelopes. The email version is sent monthly to about 300 prospects; with a very low unsubscribe percentage.
An added benefit with the email version is the report produced for bounces and unsubscribes; an excellent tool. Obviously a good barometer of who is really interested. We met these people, so we can sometimes surmise why they unsubscribed and the next time we see them, we gently inquire and it reopens a dialog.
Extra print copies are made to give out at networking meetings and have no problem getting people to sign up for the newsletter. Print copies are placed in the ‘New Members’ bags at Chamber of Commerce luncheons. I basically shove a copy in every hand every chance I get.
When giving a 30 second commercial at referral groups, you are up against limited time and unable to expand on the topic. The newsletter allows you to continuously provide those all important insurance tidbits which clients keep in mind when the time comes to get insurance. It has woken them up to the need for insurance. It has resulted in clients purchasing other insurance products making them repeat clients and has helped with client retention.
The monthly newsletter has become one of our best sources for new business. It has created that trusted advisor aspect we wanted and has made people gain confidence in choosing their coverage.
I didn’t realize what an integral part it would play in our business. I cannot envision not having a newsletter. The marketing gurus were right, having a newsletter as part of your marketing does produce income, we are proof of that.
Here are some of the excellent innovations in Patty's newsletter.
Engagement Devices (to encourage people to interact with the newsletter.)
Java Addicts - a cup of Joe on us when you send my assistant all the names of Santa's Reindeer and your address - and she'll send you a free Starbucks coffee card. (This was in the December edition, of course!)
A personal note from the insurance agent, including the words "I understand. I myself received a $150 per month increase [in health insurance premiums]." A great call to action that encourages clients to call him when their premiums rise.
Fun and interesting content
Local content: for example, information about Colorado's Long-Term Care Partnership, and the local chamber of commerce.
Articles by other local businesses.
Examples of Patty's newsletters