Perceptions of Value

Someone recently asked me if a newsletter is still a good marketing tool for small business. After all, we’re inundated with newsletters and stuff that people call newsletters. The person who asked me this has been actively unsubscribing from newsletters to reduce her inbox noise. I asked if she’ll stay subscribed to some newsletters and, of course, the answer was yes.

What’s so good about those particular newsletters that you and I stay subscribed to, even when we’re purging? The answer is simple: we are getting some perceived value. They’re likely to be interesting, useful or timely information in some form or other.

I used the word ‘perceived’ above because what is valuable to one is not valuable to everyone. It’s your target market’s perceptions that you need to be concerned about – not your best friend’s, not your mother’s, not even your own. A successful newsletter is about what your readers want, not what you want to give them.

While the simple answer is to give value, the execution is not so easy. How do you create such value that people want to keep getting it? Develop a strategy, formulate a plan, then work it… and stay tuned in. Monitor your stats, listen to unsolicited feedback, measure your results. Then refresh your strategy and re-write your plan. Even the best strategy can get stale over time.

To make your job even harder, individual needs change and their perception of the value you provide will change. There isn’t a darn thing you can do about that and you will lose subscribers over time. That means you need to constantly add to your mailing list just to maintain your readership.

Is a newsletter still a good marketing tool for small businesses? For sure, especially if you can identify that valuable thing that you’ll give to your subscribers and then work to deliver it.