Shaun Buck is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member from Idaho and founder of The Newsletter Pro, helping companies market and expand by creating high-quality print newsletters from concept through delivery. As CEO of a company with a printed product in the digital age, we asked Shaun to explain the value of print newsletters. Here's what he had to say:
Have you ever wondered if direct mail still works? Or why companies still spend billions of dollars on it each year? Now that you can send an online newsletter, why would anyone still send a print one?
From everything we hear on the news, direct mail, newsletters―all offline advertising, for that matter―is dead or dying. According to the media, we will soon live in a digital-only world where we order everything from Amazon.com, never leaving our houses to purchase anything ever again.
As is often the case, the media is exaggerating. The idea that we're going to buy everything exclusively online starting any day now is dead wrong. Cumulative online purchases in 2016 only accounted for approximately 8% of all sales made in the U.S. While that's not an insignificant percentage, retail stores aren't going the way of the dinosaur in the next 24 months, either.
When the Sears catalog was first mailed out in 1888, people thought it would be the end of retail shopping, too. But as we know, that's not how it went.
Let's drill down to examine one channel that I'm very familiar with: print newsletters. Despite the shift toward digital, my company sends out millions of newsletters annually for businesses across the country, and we made Inc. Magazine's 5000 fastest-growing companies list in both 2015 and 2016.
Why Print Newsletters Work
One of the most important metrics all big companies track is time-on-page or time-in-store. Long ago, companies realized that the more time you spend in their store, the more money you spend in their store. That's one reason Costco sells a hot dog and soda for US$1.50. It increases time-in-store, and, in some cases, actually gets you into the store in the first place.
The same is true for marketing. The more time someone spends with your marketing tools or salesperson, the more likely they are to buy from you or refer business to you. When done correctly, a print newsletter gives you non-threatening media that you own and control―media that allows both prospects and customers to spend an extended period of time with you, your brand, and your products or services. In today's world, getting someone's attention is the most valuable commodity there is.
On any given day, a person spends an average of 30 minutes reading their physical, printed mail. Compare that to the average lifespan of an email―11.1 seconds.
Another plus for print newsletters is that they allow you to sell in a vacuum, one to one. Plus, with print, consumers face far fewer distractions when compared to reading content online.
When you have someone's attention and spend enough time with that person, you start to build a relationship with them. All of us prefer to do business with people we know, like and trust, but getting enough time with someone to build that relationship is very difficult using online media. When your print newsletter shows up in someone's home or office, and they spend time reading about you and your company, you are laying the foundation of trust. When nurtured and properly promoted, that trust can and will lead to more referrals, decreased customer churn, and a higher customer lifetime value―benefits that make print newsletters superior to email newsletters.
An often-overlooked opportunity that print newsletters provide is the ability to build relationships with prospects. Very few businesses even think about a prospect if they don't buy in the first few hours, days or weeks, and that is a massive mistake. In my company's case, last year alone we added US$1.2 million in new revenue from leads that originally found us more than 12 months prior. Ultimately, customers are ready to buy when they're ready to buy, not when you're ready to sell to them.
One final thought: The media likes to pit print and digital against each other. Which one will win in a fight to the death? If you want to know the truth―and if you really want to grow your company―your marketing strategy should include a mix of both print and digital marketing. Add a print newsletter, do some direct mail, add a bit of Facebook advertising and AdWords ads; drive online leads offline and offline leads online. The truth is, smart marketers play in both online and offline worlds to grow their business and their bottom line.
Stay tuned for Shaun Buck's follow-up post with tips about how to create both hard copy and digital marketing pieces your customers will want to engage and spend time with.