“Oh yes, I publish a newsletter for my members every month.” That’s one of the most beautiful things I can hear when I’m working with a new client. But all too often, my excitement turns to disappointment when I learn they are referring to an e-zine they publish via email each month. There’s a place for e-zines. I love e-zines. However, an e-zine doesn’t replace a newsletter. And, please, never say the word “newsletter” when referring to something you send via email. “Email newsletter” is an oxymoron. It’s either a newsletter or an email, never both.

“But, I used to publish a printed newsletter. I asked my members and they said email was more convenient for them.” Yeah, of course they did. It’s not about what they say they want — it’s about engaging your member, retaining their membership, and building a business that gives you growth and long-term revenue.

There’s a big difference between delivering an email and delivering a physical package that your member can touch, open, and interact with. A part of you enters their world. You’ve changed their environment. Your materials sit on their desk, counter, and nightstand. You are in their personal space. It’s far more powerful than being a subject line that gets a quick glance as your member deletes their emails.

While printing and mailing the newsletter is critical to building an engaged membership, it’s not enough. There are too many crappy newsletters out there. And by “crappy,” I mean crappy about delivering information.

Think of it this way: Bloomberg Business Week magazine has a circulation of 960,000. Meanwhile People magazine has a circulation of 3,257,000. What do people want to read about? Other people.

When you read People magazine, you feel like you have exclusive access into the world of celebrities. You learn about their victories, their faults, and their problems. And, you learn they are a lot like you. Image that; you are a lot like those celebrities. Kind of makes you feel like a celebrity.

Your newsletter should be the People magazine for your tribe. Your job isn’t to inform. Your job is to create a connection among your members. And, in the process of creating a connection, you are informing more than you ever could by teaching.

I learned this from Dan Kennedy. My friend and client Scott Tucker was building a coaching program for mortgage brokers. Within 18 months, he had grown his business to making over $2 million a year in revenue. But, he found himself having to host monthly group coaching calls.

“What do I talk about every month?” Scott asked Dan.

The advice Dan gave him was profound: “Invite your best-performing members onto the call. Ask the guy who is accomplishing the most to tell his story. Take that story and rub your other members’ faces in it.”

When you highlight your successful member stories, three critically important things happen:

First, the member who is getting highlighted feels great. He or she is getting recognized for what they achieved. The easiest value you can deliver to your members is recognition. They yearn for recognition far more than they do for more information.

Second, it provides proof and hope to all of your members who are struggling to take action. They hear your member’s success story, look at that person, and think to themselves, “If she can do it, I know I can.” This is a lot more powerful than getting belittled or berated by a coach, and is more likely to inspire them to take action!

Third, it creates a feeling of community. Rather than members coming to your events because they want to see you, they attend because they want to connect with each other. Your newsletter creates a point of connection between members. A member can say, “Hey, I read about your story in the newsletter,” and a conversations starts. Otherwise, there’s awkward silence and a plane ride home with one less connection to the tribe.

My client Michael Rozbruch, who serves CPAs marketing to IRS-tax-problem clients, instructs his new product buyers to send out a referral letter. And, as part of the assignment of compiling a list of people to mail the referral letter to, Michael instructs his new members to include him on the list.

When Michael receives each referral letter, he acknowledges it with a note that says, “Great job getting your referral letter out. Let me know the results you get. Keep up the good work.” Now Michael’s clients feel excited and welcomed to share their results with him. Whether they get one new client or many, Michael publicly recognizes these clients in his newsletter.

What does this do for Michael? He gets testimonial that his program works. Within a few days, when his new customers are generating new clients for themselves, they send Michael an update on their progress — because he took the time to ask for it. It also gets his customers engaged in the product — they believe that it works and they believe they can do it. Most importantly, it creates a community that celebrates achievement. A culture of success. And it builds a great tribe to be a part of.

– Robert Skrob

Robert imageRobert Skrob is an information marketing expert who is currently the owner of Membership Services, Inc. and President of the Information Marketing Association.

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