Vanessa Recchia, Marketing Manager at Total Network Support is driving the Business Productivity Initiative within the company.  Vanessa shares her thoughts about using the new Publisher and Outlook to communicate more effectively. re involved in the Business Productivity Campaign here in Australia.

It’s here! The latest version of Office 2007 to replace Office 2003.

So, you ask the question, “Why should I upgrade?” “What extra features does it have?” How will it assist me in my marketing efforts?

I have to say that without it, I could not market as easily!

If you have ever thought of upgrading because of an application - then Publisher 2007 and Outlook 2007 are the reasons. Prior to the launch of Office 2007 we were sending out regular e-letters to our clients in the most traditional of ways and perhaps most time consuming. Using Microsoft Outlook we would BCC all the recipients, and I am sure you’re all thinking,”Not the most compliant or effective way of communicating”. But nevertheless it worked and was relatively easy. The only problem was design and the fact we couldn’t personalise each and every email.

1) Firstly you need to create contacts, you may have your own CRM system or custom database such as Maximiser, FastTrack or GoldMine but in this instance I will discuss the utilisation of Outlook 2007. This is important, because in essence without it you have no database of people to communicate your message to.

2) So what are you communicating? Who are you targeting, what is your audience? What does your business hope to achieve out of this e-letter? Is it going to be a regular promotion, is it going to be an informational piece? Monthly/Quarterly? This all needs to be a part of your marketing strategy.

3) Design It – Use Publisher 2007 to create and design your own custom e-letter with your branding and corporate layout.

4) Proof the e-letter – So, you have created your masterpiece in under 30 minutes - now it’s time to test it by sending an e-letter to your colleague prior to mailing out to your entire database. Why? It’s always wise to check the design, spelling, grammar, and size of the e-letter. I am a perfect example of this - in the Dear “First Name” merge field, I didn’t create a merge, therefore all TNS clients e-letters were “Dear First Name”. While this is amusing now, it wasn’t when all our clients responded with “Regards, First Name”.

5) Finally – Under your Tools tab, click Mailings & Catalogs – then click E-mail merge, and send to your database in a just couple of clicks.

Things to Consider

What are you trying to communicate? What is your objective? Target Market? For example: our engineers would not be as excited by legislative changes impacting organisations regarding email archiving, as much as a director of a company would.

This is something that needs to be a part of your marketing plan and strategy. Here at TNS we have focused on informative pieces rather than promotional e-letters. This is all dependent on what your clients see as value. Our market research indicated that our clients required informatin that wasn’t easy to come by - so we have focused on risk management, software piracy, security, disaster recovery and legislation that affects every business in Australia. This is how we communicated the legislative changes e-letter.

By planning ahead, your strategy will be in place and your sales team and other staff can be focused on what you are marketing and hoping to achieve.

Part of the planning is the frequency of your internal communications. This becomes crucial to you and your clients. It differentiates junk mail from a real message. You want to capture your targeted audience and keep them reading, and ultimately returning for more. This means clients will expect to see an e-letter after a few months as it becomes part of their reading and an expectation will be create and established.

  • Spam ACT – Consider the legislation, you must have permission to communicate to them, an opt-out clause is a must and you must honor that request.
  • Be topical - Your client wants the expertise and insight you have in your specific field. Use your newsletter to alert customers to seasonal promotions or sales, new and improved products and services — what's happening now.
  • Make it informative - An e- letter is an opportunity to build credibility by sharing news, tips, case studies, reviews, profiles, success stories. Think of it as a soft-sell tool.
  • Promotions - Short, sharp, simple, contact details.
  • Make it personal - Address your clients' expressed interests. This is the kind of customer service that catches on quickly.
  • Keep your promise - Whatever frequency you decide works best for your business (quarterly, monthly, or weekly) ensure you deliver the news consistently and on schedule.
  • Stay on point.   Remain focused on your key messages. And make sure your newsletter ties in to other advertising and marketing efforts such as direct-mail catalog drops, print ad campaigns, and your Web site.

Happy Marketing!!