5 tips to make your e-newsletter sell, Part II

By Debbie Weil
Publisher, WordBiz Report

Is there a formula behind an e-newsletter or ezine that consistently sells your products or services? You bet.

I spoke with Joan Stewart, aka The Publicity Hound, who has been publishing her eponymous ezine (about how to get free publicity) for over three years. 173 issues and over 8,900 subscribers later, she's got a formula that works.

Following her advice to keep it short, here are her top 5 tips on how to sell through your e-newsletter:

1. Fanatical consistency

She is “absolutely fanatical” about publishing every week, including Christmas and New Year's. Thus both the schedule and content of her ezine is predictable. Readers know what to expect - and when.

2. Problem = Product

By listening carefully to feedback and questions from her subscribers (a mix of corporate and small business), she knows what problems they are facing. “Readers get bored if you promote the same product week after week,” Joan said. “They have different problems they want to solve so you have to have different products that offer a variety of solutions.”

She now has over 100 products in her online store. Mainly, digital special reports along with audiotapes and CDs (the latter are derived from her teleseminars). “That's over 100 problems I can offer free advice on in my newsletter.”

3. Extract 3 to 5 content tips from a product

When she's planning an issue of her ezine, she selects a product she wants to promote. It can be new or 2 years old. She extracts from it “anywhere from 3 to 5 content-rich tips that people can use and benefit from even if they never want to spend a penny with me.” She writes a mini article (200 - 300 words) incorporating those tips.

4. Pair content with promotion

After this feature, she pitches the product “in one short paragraph” (100 words or less). She uses a lead-in such as “Need more help solving this problem? Need more ideas? Check out product title." Then she links to that specific product page on her site.

Most of her products are in the $29.95 range. She may also bundle several products together or offer a special 20 –30 percent off promotion.

A former journalist herself, Joan's writing style is clear and succinct. When she makes the “ask,” it comes across as a natural progression of the content preceding it. There's no hard sell.

In a nutshell, this is her secret formula: free advice paired with a product.

5. Sell easy-to-create products

One mistake a lot of would-be information publishers make, Joan emphasizes, is to spend months creating one high-priced product. Don't, she says! “The more narrowly you can define your topic, the more you can sell. But to do that you have to have a lot of products.”

She can crank out a special report “in one afternoon” on a topic related to free publicity. They're generally 5 dense pages - “an inch wide and a mile deep,” as she puts it.

Joan publishes The Publicity Hound every Tuesday in a no-frills, text-only format. She says she's busy filling orders Tuesday and Wednesday. And they're still trickling in on Thursday and Friday. Then her week starts over…

In 2004 she wants to surpass her monthly record of over $12,000 in sales of products and consulting.

Bonus Tip: browse over 40 “free articles” on her site. Note that in each one she has links leading to related products. It's the same formula: content + promotion.

Need more help in learning how to package and sell your content?

You might be interested in Joan's report "How to write and market special reports."

It's packed with tips. For example: you don't have to be a Great American (or other nationality!) Novelist. Special reports are how-to guides. You can develop a format based on lists and bulleted items. Include a resource box at the end.

Click here for Joan's special report #20

You'll have to scroll down to find #20. Her special reports, 47 of them, are USD $9 each.

Useful Links

The Publicity Hound - Joan Stewart's site
Sign-up box for her ezine is on the top left-hand corner of every page.

Part I of Adding up the 3 C's of an e-newsletter that sells

This article originally appeared in the January 21, 2004 issue of WordBiz Report. Read Part I here.

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