Extra, Extra, Real All About It!

Originally published in the MSAA Supplement, Issue 01, October, 2008

In a recent article I wrote, I focused on the benefits of using the internet and trying to get the most out of your company’s website. In hindsight, the real focus of my article was the concept of touch points. In our business we have many chances to keep our name in the press through advertising upcoming sales. Each time a person sees one of your ads or signs it is considered a touch point. Obviously, the more touch points the more likely a prospective client will think of your company and its services first. This is a concept that can be very apparent during winter months when the auction fever dies down a bit. To keep in contact with your clients a newsletter can be a great solution.

Newsletters have a long utilitarian history. As a graphic designer even the mention of them invokes thoughts of 1 color word documents with clip art for images. While I do apologize if that is your current version of a newsletter, know that there are many more affordable solutions for your business. It’s time to dig into this topic and hopefully help you build a quality attractive system for touch points all-year.

Who:
A great question to ask when starting any project is, “who will be my target audience?” Are you looking for prospective bidders? Are you looking for possible sellers? These are important to the direction of your articles, the images you use, and the distribution method. For the purpose of this example, let’s assume that we have a mailing list of bidders from our auctions, and as we learned long ago, a bidder can be our next seller, so now we have our target audience.

What:
The answer to this question is quite simple. We are building a company newsletter. Obviously, there are many ways to distribute information. Building a website or a Blog is another system that can accomplish many of the same tasks as a newsletter.

When:
This is an important question since we are all professionals and time is short. Is it possible to put out a quarterly company newsletter? How about two updates in the winter (your slower time) and one in the summer? Since the winter is often a slow time, it is a good idea to have many touch points during that quiet time so bidders (and possible sellers) won’t forget about your services.

Where:
This is an interesting question. Where do I put my newsletter? Since we are operating under the assumption that we have a mailing list, the where will be in our current bidder’s hands. However, in some areas you might have a large account in a small bank or frequent a vendor so often that they are willing to put your newsletter out for their clients to see. They might even be willing to put an ad in your newsletter. (Selling ad space is a complete article in itself, so we may have to return to that at a different time.)

Why:
I covered the why in the introduction, but you may also find a variety of other reasons as well. Consider the fact that if you do a newsletter often enough you could actually place ads for your own sales in it, or at least have an Upcoming Auctions feature. The options are endless.

How:
This is the point where the rubber hits the road. How do you want to get your newsletter out to your
clients? You could mail it. However, with the cost of mailing getting higher, it really isn’t nearly as affordable as it once was. Consider a webzine (web-based magazine). This is not a new concept, however the convenience of creating one is closer than you might think. You are currently reading a PDF, which stands for Portable Document Format. PDFs are able to be read by almost every computer and are quickly becoming a viable format for all documents. Many programs will allow you to take a file and “Save As” a PDF or allow you to “Print To” a PDF. Either way, you are then able to email it or post it to your website for all to read.

Example:
One example of a newsletter I would recommend you take a look at is produced by the Reinhart Auction Service of Palisade, Minnesota. Currently they produce a newsletter that is actually more like a newspaper for their mailing list. This publication is one of the best around for showcasing upcoming events and auctions for their clients and possible prospects. I had a chance to speak with Carol Reinhart and she told me they are now producing 28,000 copies of each issue. This is exactly the type of publication that will help your clients remember your name.

In conclusion, there are many ways a newsletter and help your company stay in contact with your clients. Take the time to explore some options and see what you can accomplish.