E-mail newsletters are a common dog pro marketing tool, and they serve an important purpose. As we’ve written about in the past, e-newsletters are great for maintaining connection to and brand loyalty among current clients, and bringing past clients back into the fold. Done well, a good e-mail newsletter may get passed around and occasionally bring in a new client, too.
But if new clients are what you’re after, you’re missing one of the best tools in the dog pro marketing toolbox if you aren’t using a print newsletter. While e-mail newsletters focus on staying relevant to people who already know you, print newsletters are all about adding people to that list.
Why Use a Print Newsletter
Here are five reasons you should put out a print newsletter:
- Build awareness. E-newsletters are great for maintaining relationships you already have, and marketing to those who know you’re there. But what about those who don’t? How will they know to visit your website, sign up for your e-newsletter, or benefit from your services? On-the-ground community marketing is a must if you’re looking to grow. You have to find ways to tell people you exist, and a print newsletter is a powerful way to do so.
- Stand out from the noise. We all hate being marketed to, so we do our best to avoid it. It’s easy to ignore a brochure or glance past a business card. By contrast, a well-designed, engaging newsletter draws readers in and offers them something of value—some great tips, some entertaining insights. Reading your newsletter builds brand loyalty along with awareness, and helps you stand out from all the typical fliers, cards, and brochures most dog pros must compete with.
- Get new business. The awareness and loyalty a print newsletter creates means you’re the first dog pro to come to mind when a reader finds herself in need of what you offer, be that dog training, walking, sitting, daycare, etc. You’re likely to be on the tip of your readers’ tongues when a friend or co-worker mentions that need as well.
- Build new referral sources. Newsletters provide something valuable to offer vet clinics, pet supply stores, shelters, etc. that you already have relationships with. They’re also a terrific way to start new relationships. Offering to feature a dog-related or dog-friendly business in your newsletter is an easy, stress-free way to break the ice—one of our favorite marketing tricks for networking-phobic dogtec clients. And, unlike more typical marketing materials, print newsletters work outside the dog box—you can distribute them in local cafes, dentists’ offices, hair salons, gyms—anywhere a bit of good reading might be welcomed.
- Improve dog’s lives. If you’re like most dog pros we know, you’re not in this for your living alone; you genuinely want to help as many dogs as possible. A good print newsletter does just that. While showing off your professionalism and expertise, your newsletter also educates your community about dogs, be that an article in a trainer’s newsletter about puppy socialization or positive training, or a piece on the importance of physical exercise and mental stimulation featured in a newsletter from a dog walking or daycare company.
Print Newsletter Tips
Be useful and entertaining. If your newsletter doesn’t provide information and entertainment, people won’t keep reading. Talking too much about your business and services turns your newsletter into a glorified brochure. Yes, these topics belong in your newsletter. But unless you also include articles of general interest people will soon treat your newsletter as they would any other advertising material: Maybe a glance, then the recycling bin. Your end of the deal is to entertain and inform, not just sell your services.
Sell your services. Though you want to avoid too much focus on your business, the end purpose of the newsletter is to promote your business. Don’t make the mistake of not including information about your services—particularly their benefits. Make contact information—website, email, and phone—clearly visible. Don’t hesitate to include a call to action. For example, “Fall classes are filling quickly. Visit our website to sign up now!” Or “The holidays are just around the corner. Make your boarding reservations early to ensure your dog’s spot with us.”
A good rule of thumb is the 85-15 rule: 85% of your material should be a good read, limiting the content about your business and services to no more than 15%.
Be Consistent.Distribute your 2-4 page newsletter once per quarter. A scattershot approach makes you seem disorganized, and missed newsletters are missed marketing opportunities. Plus, getting your newsletter out each quarter gives you the perfect opportunity to build and maintain referral relationships with vets, pet supply stores, and anywhere else you make copies available. (Don’t forget the cookies when you stop in to drop off copies—it’s an old trick, but we all know the power of classical conditioning!)
Be Professional. A homemade look or poor layout will undermine your brand and make it less likely your newsletter will be read. It’s worth paying a designer to create a professionally branded template for you to put your writing and photos into. If writing isn’t your forte, contracting that part out, too, will help you put your best foot forward. Watch your print quality, too. There are lots of good options for inexpensive printing these days. If you decide to print from your home office, stick to color and use high-quality paper; it’ll make a big difference for a small extra cost.
Print newsletters are one of our favorite marketing tools for dog pros. But they aren’t a marketing magic wand. Like any marketing you do, you’ll be disappointed if you expect quick results. New readers may take some convincing (i.e., they’ll need the repeat exposure that comes from reading several editions), and remember that most may not need you right away. The trick to marketing in our industry is to stay in front of potential clients over time so that, when the need for a dog pro arises, you’re the first to come to mind.
A print newsletter is one of the best ways we know to accomplish that task—and to do good for dogs along the way.