Creativity for Kids didn't want its marketing newsletter pitched into a circular file. So, the Cleveland-based company cut its circulation in half by weeding out all but retail customers, their reps, and hot prospects. And newsletter staff members made an effort to feature stories they couldn't get elsewhere.

"The newsletter is enormously popular with our customers, who use it to help run their businesses," says Phyllis Brody, co-owner of the toy manufacturer and employer of 80 staffers. Three times a year, retailers in 4,000 business locations, as well as prospects, receive the newsletter. The publication routinely showcases innovative customer practices and passes on tips on how to boost sales. For example, one story explained how to orchestrate an in-store sales event in which retailers could run hands-on activities for parents and children. The story inspired about 600 stores to order up to 20 discounted promotional learning kits.

And, promotions such as the "Guru Contest," an annual challenge that asks readers to predict what the best-selling new Creativity for Kids products will be, encourage interaction with customers, draw attention to new products, and track readership.