By Michel Fortin
An interesting editorial appeared in this month’s PROFITeer E-zine published by Profit 100® Canada (see http://www.profit100.com) in which some numbers that were reported were quite astounding. Gathered by Senior Editor Ian Portsmouth from a conference held in Edinburgh, Scotland (an annual gathering of Europe’s 500 fastest-growing companies), findings indicated that Europe’s fastest-growing firms in a global economy (of course, due to the help of the Internet) are the smaller ones.
In the past five years, Europe’s 500 fastest-growing companies created more than 180,000 jobs (just as Europe’s 500 largest companies slashed their payrolls by 600,000). Portsmouth did not fail to indicate that these numbers parallel those in North America.
Nevertheless, it goes to show that the future of business and particularly online business is in smaller companies. However, it is fair to say that the methods of promotion differ greatly since the smaller business does not have the same advertising budget as its larger counterparts. But the one tool that is often overlooked and is increasingly gaining stature — and quite effective in building an online business — is the e-zine.
As recently reported in an e-zine article, even targeted opt-in direct mailers, such as Targ-It! (http://www.targ-it.com), are starting to turn to e-zine publishers for building their businesses or awareness in the marketplace. According to Targ-It!, “Our business oriented lists are primarily from the Newsletter Library, (…) the Internet’s most widely used source for requesting sample copies of commercial newsletters.”
Even search engines are turning to building opt-in lists for direct e-mail marketing. As mentioned in a previous article (see http://success-doctor.com/article23.htm), Yahoo!’s partnerships with Yoyodyne and ValPak Coupons are not alone. Another great example is http://Altavista.com, which has recently teamed up with PostMaster Direct (see the related article at http://www.dmnews.com/articles/1998-11-02/2242.html from DMNews).
A Publishers’ Paradise
Publishing your own e-zine (an electronic magazine or newsletter) is one of the most effective ways to gain publicity online. E-zine and discussion group publishers are increasingly gaining ground over those who don’t utilize these tools, and you should definitely look into publishing one if you are not already doing so.
With the Internet — and particularly e-mail — comes the ability to produce your very own “free” publicity channels with which your expertise in your specific niche or industry can be easily developed. In fact, more and more media personnel are seeking such channels to find qualified people or stories.
Aside from the publicity you gain by delivering expert information to eager subscribers, by narrowing your focus the media will seek you out rather than the other way around. Why? They do so because they particularly like stories from people who are uniquely qualified — this is especially true with specialized, topic-specific media, since they love to report information that appeals to their specific audience.
Nevertheless, publishing an e-zine for your prospects and customers has a number of benefits. It builds credibility, establishes you as an expert in your field, keeps you in frequent contact with your customers and subscribers, positions your company or product, and develops good top-of-mind awareness.
Out of Sight is Out of Mind
E-zines are no-cost marketing tools that can provide you with large amounts of free publicity as well as create a new profit center for you by selling advertising space within it. It will allow you to contact your prospects as often you want and develop a relationship with them.
By supplying a regular stream of specialized information, you will be able to turn prospects into customers and customers into referral-sources. In essence, the e-zine is simply a platform through which you increase your exposure and thus create trust, credibility, and, of course, sales as well as referrals — and do so very quickly and easily.
When someone subscribes, you at least get their email address. But you may also get their mailing address, which can be used to mail your offers outside your e-zine. Whether you do so electronically or physically, since a relationship exists between you and your subscribers you will naturally get a higher response rate from offers to subscribers than you would with offers to non-subscribers.
You can also make new product or important update announcements in your e-zine. But more important, you can use it as a tool to gain marketing intelligence. Research is the key to success in direct marketing; it is to find what information, products, and services your prospects are looking for, and then to offer them what they want. E-zines therefore can help supply you with that kind of information very easily in a number of ways.
For example, one way is by hosting other company products in your e-zine and then finding out the kind of response they have generated. You can also gain key information by including surveys or conducting polls, and then offering free bonuses to your subscribers for participating in them.
Let’s Swap, Shall We?
But one of the most useful ways to grow your e-zine is by swapping ads with other publishers. Cross-promotion between publishers is quite effective and for many reasons. First, the savings gained from advertising for free can be tremendous. But more significant is that your ad will be viewed by a specific readership — people who not only fall into your target market but also love to read e-zines, which increases the chances of your ad being noticed.
The one thing you will need the most when starting your e-zine is, of course, subscribers. Therefore, swapping ads is a great way to promote your newsletter and build your subscriber-base. Another great way is to register your publication with e-zine directories. Fortunately, there are many popular search engines and directories that only list e-zines, even Web sites dedicated to them as well.
Here’s a partial list of electronic newsletter directories, indices, listings, and other sources to which you can submit your own e-zine listing (of course, there is also the “alt.ezines” newsgroup) — you can also use these directories to isolate newsletters to which you wish to contribute articles:
(probably the largest and most popular one),
– And http://www.zinezone.com/.
(And of course, my associates’ private site at http://www.marketingchallenge.com/ — the publishers of the immensely popular “Internet Marketing Chronicles” e-zine of which I am the editor — maintain their own growing database.)
There are also publisher and writer newsletters, directories, and Web sites in which you can submit and solicit articles that cater to your publication’s theme (for example, check out iCopyright at http://www.icopyright.com/ and The Writer’s and Publisher’s Connection at http://www.homeincome.com/writers-connection). There is also the Email Publishers Discussion List at http://www.onelist.com/listcenter.cgi?listname=epub.
And by writing articles in other publications, your byline can advertise the fact that you publish your own e-zine and thus invite readers to subscribe. Nevertheless, you can also have strategic marketing alliances promote subscriptions for you. In exchange for a certain number of subscribers they have generated, you can offer them free advertising in your newsletter.
So, write on!
About the Author:
Michel Fortin, Ph.D. at http://success-doctor.com is a consultant dedicated to helping businesses turn into powerful magnets. He is also a speaker, copywriter, author of numerous books, including “The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning” (get your FREE copy at http://success-doctor.com), and editor of the “Internet Marketing Chronicles” delivered weekly to 65,000 subscribers (visit http://www.marketingchallenge.com/home/success-doctor).