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Publish now or perish later

Strangely, after it has proven itself to be a leading marketing tool, ezine publishing is still one of the most underutilized online business building methods. Beyond the fact that it is efficient and cost-effective, the intimacy of email provides ecommerce merchants with an extraordinary advantage over offline, more traditional forms of marketing communications.

Agreeably, email is still in its infancy and there's still a lot of ground to cover. First, email will become more effective as time goes on, especially once "spam" becomes a nonissue -- not because it is unethical, tasteless, unprofessional, illegal (for some) and all the other negative adjectives associated with spam, but because it is simply not profitable in the long term.

But second, new and interactive technologies are now being developed that will make ezine publishing an even more effective marketing tool in the coming years if not months. We have barely scratched the surface in terms of harnessing the power of email let alone the web, and the need to start using this yet greatly untapped resource is overwhelming.

Where the marketer's axiom used to be "publish or perish," the advent of the Internet has changed it to "publish now or perish later." In fact, the Internet used to be a place that embraced (and even fostered) change. But soon it will become a crucible consisting of only those who create it, therefore leaving the slow starters behind… Way behind. The web is all about change.

Nevertheless, having one's own newsletter (or at the very least a regularly published mailing to an opt-in subscriber-base) is a powerful way to attract not only prospects but also referral sources, affiliates and centers-of-influence. It is powerful in that a newsletter doesn't outright promote one's company or product, but one's expertise and value in the marketplace.

A newsletter is often more effective than an advertisement or brochure because the publisher is demonstrating its expertise in its particular field rather than stating it outright. Similar to public relations for example, ezine publishing is sometimes more effective because it comes from an apparently objective third party -- in other words, like a newspaper reporter's article a newsletter reads more like an educational tool rather than some self-serving commercial.

And therein lies the key: People are constantly bombarded with commercial messages everywhere they go -- especially online. But a constant supply of solid information that attempts to educate readers rather than promote something to them will place a higher degree of credibility in the prospect's mind on the company from which the information originates.

As my mentor in the professional speaking business once told me, "Don't be a speaker, be an expert who speaks. Don't be a consultant, be an expert who consults. Don't be a writer, be an expert who writes." I would add: "Don't be a online merchant, be an expert in the field (or on the product) one merchandises." Essentially, be an expert or a consultant, not a retailer.

That mentor also told me, "Implication is more powerful than specification." Again, one should aim at being perceived as (and not specifying that one is) an expert in a specific niche or industry. The newsletter therefore, especially if it's free, can inform prospective clients of what a company is all about before people actually make the buying decision. That "buying decision" may very well be as simple as referring another client -- and repeat and referral sales are indeed where the bulk of most companies' profits are often realized.

But the idea in delivering information through an ezine is nonetheless to target a specific audience, and to have the people who read the ezine want more and come forward to get it. With information being one the major shifts the business world has experienced, the ezine can also help make a company's presence known in a quicker and more inexpensive way.

In other words, the newsletter not only uses the more economical email system but it also delivers that information to eager subscribers in a matter of seconds. More important, it builds relationships and, in this day and age where consumers are more leery than ever, by offering a personalized approach it will position a company as one with a stronger customer focus.

Relationship marketing enables marketers to be in front of their prospects more and more often. If subscribers happen to need a marketer's products or services at any given time, or if they come to know anyone who does, the marketer is there, in front of them, when their time is right. Like a lightning bolt, the thought of a specific company (one that maintains a relationship with the subscriber) will come immediately to mind when the need presents itself.

"Out of sight is out of mind," as they say.

Finally, publishing a newsletter helps to position a company very effectively in the mind. Whether the subscriber will or not buy right now from the marketer, maintaining a constant contact also creates top-of-mind awareness. The continuous flow of information between publisher and potential client (or referrer of clients) can help to reinforce the unique, competitive advantage a company has over others within the same category.

Publishing an electronic newsletter should never be considered as a business expense. In a hypercompetitive marketplace that changes at the speed of electricity, one satiated with cautious, more educated and sophisticated click-happy consumers, it is an investment.

In reality, *not* publishing one is the true expense.

About the author
Michel Fortin is a direct response copywriter and consultant dedicated to turning sales messages into powerful magnets. Get a free copy of his book, "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning," when you subscribe to his free monthly ezine, "The Profit Pill." See http://SuccessDoctor.com/ now!

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