Print is Persuasive for Dealer Newsletters

I know of many kitchen and bath dealers who used to put out their own printed newsletter with information about new products, services and updated business data. These dealers sent newsletters to their past customers, new customers and prospective customers, and also gave copies to potential customers who came into their showrooms.

At some point, however, dealers discovered that they could deliver newsletters by e-mail. All this required was building a base of people and getting their e-mail addresses. There were no printing and postage costs, and dealers found they could also save a lot of time and work, as well.

Print and E-mail
But, while this may sound great, rushing to become a no-paper, e-mail-only newsletter can have some serious drawbacks. E-zines have their place, but a paper newsletter will get you more response and more attention, and will stand out much better than even the classiest, well-written, on-line production. The reasons for this are simple:

1. Print is persuasive. You can communicate at greater length and in greater depth with a printed newsletter because attention spans are longer for print. There is less eye strain, and print pieces are easier and more comfortable to read.

2. Paper newsletters get read when the recipient/customer is in the mood. Newsletters can be left on the counter, carried in a briefcase or set aside to read later. Not so for e-zines. E-zines either get read immediately or are deleted. Few are saved for future reference, and even if they are saved, they are quickly forgotten.

3. Paper materials prompt action. A quick survey of retailers who publish both a printed catalog and an e-zine (each sent once a month) found that it's the printed catalog, not the e-zine, which drives sales. With retailers who sell over the Internet, it was found that, if they miss a month with the paper catalog, more than 90 percent of Web sales vanish.

Therefore, if you're going to send information to your customer, don't -rely strictly on email. If you're sending your own printed, well-done newsletter, don't get fooled into thinking an e-mail newsletter is just as good. It isn't. Sure, you can put pictures and color into an online e-zine, but customers who have a dial-up service probably won't spend the time waiting for them to download, and, they won't print it out to show others.

Printed newsletters and product information will stand out. They'll get read, rather than skimmed. Printed pieces using postal mail still represent a wise investment when trying to get people interested in a new kitchen or bath.

The best approach, though, is a one-two punch using both print and an e-zine. A print piece can call attention to a Web site for additional information, and a Web site can collect e-mail addresses and snail-mail addresses for print and e-mail info.

Going to Print
Now, if you're going to do a print newsletter about your kitchen and bath firm, there are a few things to keep in mind:

First, commit to at least one year of issues even better, two years no matter what. I'm sure you've seen businesses that launch a newsletter, send out two or three issues, and then you never hear from them again. The first year, the effect of your newsletter is still gathering momentum. It will work, but you need to keep sending it out.

Second, you need to have a ratio of at least 80 percent beneficial material to 20 percent promotional content. Your newsletter will be read if the readers realize that there is something in it for them, not just you. Your readers should learn something and be tempted to save issues for future reference.

Third, put your money on content and frequency, rather than a lot of bells and whistles and extravagant design. You sell kitchens and baths, not art design. Your newsletter should match your image and what you are trying to portray. Being classy does not have to mean being overly creative. Substance is what will get your newsletter read.

Once you commit to putting out a newsletter, do it more than twice a year. Monthly or bi-monthly is best. You can talk about new products, personnel changes, kitchen and bath specials, recent customers who are happy with their installations, industry stats, financing options, etc. And, once you get the issue printed, you can also have it appear on your Web site. You can send an e-mail to your entire address book, telling customers how to access your Web site, or you can ask permission to e-mail the e-zine to them. However, just because you have their permission doesn't mean to forget about the print piece. Do both. A TV commercial doesn't just run once. It takes a number of hits before it starts to get action. Repetition works.

Also, in each newsletter, try for some action. Try to get customers into your showroom. It could be to get their opinion on something new, see a new kitchen cabinet design or purchase an accessory for an installation already in place. You want customers to come through your door. You want them to make appointments to see you for major work. You want people telling other people about you.

A printed newsletter will help do this. An e-zine alone won't. Besides, an e-zine is going to be in the clutter of all the junk e-mails and spam your customer is getting at that moment. And, because postal costs keep going up, the amount of junk mail is going down. Your newsletter will stand out if it is in print and hand-delivered to your recipient's mailbox. It's also hard to instantly delete. It's not a one-click process. Customers have to touch it and look at it, even if it is only to throw it away. But if a print newsletter is done well and has something to offer, it will be read. And, that's your immediate goal with your customer.

Bob Popyk is the publisher of Creative Selling', a monthly newsletter on sales and marketing strategies. His sales meetings and seminars are presented internationally to major companies and industries. For a free sample of his newsletter, call (800) 724-9700, e-mail, write to Bentley-Hall, Inc., 120 Walton St., Ste. 201, Syracuse, NY13202; Web site: