Get ideas for Realtors, interior designers, and professional services that don't talk regularly with customers.
Professional service providers, such as Realtors, accountants, attorneys, interior designers, and medical professionals, have the unfortunate luck of being in a profession where their customers only need their services once in a while.
But, like all good businesspeople, these companies are collecting email addresses, and trying to figure out a way to stay relevant and top of mind during the times between engagements. They do this with the all-powerful email newsletter.
Unfortunately, too many professionals lack a strategy for their email newsletter, so they get lazy, fall prey to companies that create cookie-cutter, generic, and quasi-relevant newsletters for their industry. I should know, my company has automated campaigns like this for several clients who have come to us with the newsletter service already in place, they just needed the automation and the setup. You know what's worse? Two of them are in the same business, which means their newsletters are, you guessed it, identical. Just swap out one guy's contact info for another. I cringe, and hope to convince them to change to a better system after showing them this article.
Here is my message to you:
You guys are the professionals, the trusted experts, the ones who can handle any situation about your business, yet you phone it in with generic fluff content sent out once a month? And you're complaining that your email marketing isn't working?
You can do better than that, your customers expect better than that. And it's easier than you think to pull this off. So, below are some ideas you can run with for creating an email newsletter strategy that will actually help your business, deepen relationships with your subscribers, and make you stand out among all the others who are phoning it in.
Chances are good you are a local business, serving a local area (most businesses are). You have your finger on the pulse of your locale, because it helps you with your business; use that to help your subscribers learn more about their local area. For example, if you are a Realtor, your job is to know the towns you represent inside and out. If you aren't doing a market survey each month, start one, and put it in your newsletter. If a major town project is going to affect property values, write about it in your newsletter (or write a summary, and link to the full article on your blog if you have one).
If you are creating content on social media, a blog, YouTube, or even a podcast, give your subscribers a reason to also join your email list. On social, promote the fact you have exclusive content that is only sent to your subscribers (or sent first to your subscribers before you share it on social). What can that exclusive content be? Insights into the latest trade show you attended, and how a new product you found would be a perfect fit for the style of homes common in your area (there I am, getting local again).
This might sound contradictory to Tip #2, but it is always a great idea to highlight your social communities in your email newsletters. For example, you could tell your subscribers about a new Pinterest board you created (or found) with this season's up and coming design trends. Or, you could highlight a great discussion with a new contact you met in a Google Hangout. Better still, highlight an email exchange you had with one of your subscribers, because you do encourage them to reply, right?
One of the biggest roadblocks companies have with respect to their email newsletter is creating the content. Above, I gave you three different ways to think about how you find content, all of which are already part of your daily routines in business. You just have to know it's okay to extract those thoughts, and put them into a newsletter.
It is incredibly useful to have a content calendar for your newsletter (a shameless plug that I can help with this if you need it). If you are blogging, you would tie this calendar into your editorial calendar. If you attend a lot of live events, you will tie this calendar into your trade show calendar. If your business is seasonal, a calendar will help you keep the connections with your subscribers active in the off-peak times, and you will send them just the right info at the right moment during busy season. Integrating and planning your content lets you analyze how your subscribers are reacting, and lets you test different ways to interact with them.
Otherwise, you are shooting from the hip with no plan each time you send an email newsletter, and after a while you will question the effectiveness of this, get lazy again, and phone it in with those cookie-cutter template services.