Who says print is dead?

Don Sadler During my nearly 20 years in the newsletter publishing business, I've seen the pendulum swing from one side to the other when it comes to banks' attitudes toward using newsletters as a marketing tool.

When I became an editorial assistant at a large newsletter publisher back in the mid-'80s, the newsletter was still a relatively new marketing medium. Over the next decade or so, I watched acceptance of newsletters grow tremendously as banks recognized the marketing potential of regularly communicating with their best customers and prospects via this credible, non-threatening medium.

Then came the Internet, and everyone said, "Print is dead! We don't need newsletters anymore. All we need is content on our Web site. Why put ink on paper when all we have to do is post our content online, and everyone will flock to our sites to read it?"

Well, like most of the other new rules and "paradigm shifts" that came with the Internet Revolution, this one proved less than astute. No, print is not dead - far from it. If there's one thing we've learned over the past few years, it's that print newsletters and online content are not mutually exclusive; rather, they should be used together in order to get the most bang for your marketing bucks.

What a newsletter can do for you

So, in today's high-tech world of instant, always-on communications, what are the benefits of an old-school medium like the print newsletter? There are lots of them, but they all center around one indisputable fact: A newsletter is truly unique. No other marketing vehicle lets you communicate relevant, educational information to carefully targeted audiences and cross-sell products and services using a soft-sell approach that's not perceived as an "advertisement." Here are just a few of the benefits of publishing a custom newsletter or magazine:

People read - and value - newsletters. In a survey by Standard & Poor's that focused on newsletters published by financial services companies, 92% of newsletter recipients said they read at least some of the issues. And 84% said they found the information in the newsletter valuable.

Newsletters help you build brand awareness, strengthen customer loyalty and increase customers' lifetime value. These are the greatest strengths of a newsletter. They let you make an emotional connection with your customers by communicating with them in a way that leads them to value and trust your brand. This results in loyal customers who will buy more products and services from you over their lifetimes, thus greatly enhancing each customer's lifetime value and your long-term profitability.

You can deliver multiple messages with a newsletter. As I mentioned above, a newsletter is unique in that it's the only medium that lets you create your own mix of educational (or non-sales) and product-focused articles. Most banks strive for a 50-50 blend, but you can tweak the editorial balance from issue to issue depending on specific marketing goals or opportunities.

Newsletters enable you to better retain and cross-sell current customers.You've read all the statistics on how much less it costs to keep current customers than to acquire new ones. Now comes research demonstrating that a mere 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase profitability from 25 to 125 percent*. Clearly, there are significant, bottom-line benefits to any marketing effort built around retention and cross-selling - areas where newsletters excel.

With newsletters, you can target markets and niches as narrowly as you want. You have complete control over the media and the message, which gives you tremendous flexibility. You can deliver information of value to customers in a credible and non-threatening environment free from competing messages and clutter. Plus, customization capabilities enable you to slice and dice your audience however you see fit and send very specific editorial and sales messages to tightly targeted audiences.

Newsletters can generate direct response and sales leads. If generating response and leads is one of your goals, there are a variety of ways to accomplish this with a newsletter. Business reply cards, dedicated phone numbers and Web site URLs are the most common. Careful coordination is required on the back end to ensure that leads generated from the newsletter are followed up on and tracked accurately, especially if it's important to determine ROI for the program.

Talk to the experts

Creating a successful newsletter program that achieves the results you're looking for requires expertise, diligence and know-how. At Media 3 Publications, we have more than 14 years of experience in helping financial institutions create newsletter programs that get results.

To learn more about how we can help you meet your marketing goals through a newsletter program, email us at info@media3pub.com or give us a call at 800-540-0834. Be sure to request a free sample kit.

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