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    23 Replies Latest reply on Mar 12, 2009 11:22 AM by SBC Team

    Event: Online Publishing

    SBC Team Guide
      Do you have questions on how to develop your own newsletter or how to effectively use content to deepen existing relationship or acquire new customers?

      Steve Farbman, CEO of Touchpoint Media will be in the SBOC forum on May 14, 2008 from 2PM - 3PM ET to address all of your questions.

      About Steve Farbman
      Steve Farbman is CEO of Touchpoint Media and Touchpoint Sports, Inc. Touchpoint Sports, based in Minneapolis is primarily a publisher of custom magazines for amateur sports associations. Touchpoint Media, based in White Plains, New York, was created to focus on custom publishing in areas outside of sports. Touchpoint Media has developed an expertise in small business, having published small business magazines for several Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies. The company also develops customized content for small business web sites and email newsletters.

      Farbman has over 20 years experience in the publishing industry, working for such communications titans as Bruce Wasserstein and Warner Communications before acquiring Touchpoint Sports.

      To all Community Members
      We will take advance questions all this week. If you have a question for Steve post it here, by simply hitting reply and then check back with the site on May 14 from 2-3 PM Eastern or anytime after that for Steve's response. You can also pose a question to Steve anytime during the live event hours on May 14 2PM - 3PM. Steve will try to answer as many of your questions as possible.
        • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
          SBC Team Guide
          Alright, let's get things started.

          The first question comes from Bluesuit:

          I actually have a question for a friend of mine. She recently paid several hundred dollars to advertise her yoga studio in a local magazine. I was surprised at the cost. What advice can you provide to someone with limited dollars but would like to advertise their business in print? Newspapers vs. magazines vs. taking an ad out in the yellow pages? What's working these days? And how do you get the most out of your dollar? Also, would my friend of paid less if she called the publication at the very last minute vs. securing her ad space well in advance?

           


          Remember to refresh your browsers often.
            • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
              tpmtps Newbie

              Since she has a limited budget, advertising in the yellow pages (in print and online) is a good place to start. Next I would research the local newspapers and magazines to find out if any of the publications have any special sections or special issues that would have editorial geared to fitness and health or skew towards a female audience. Since your budget may only allow for a few ads, this would create a better target audience. In terms of price, newspapers will always tend to be less expensive on a per insertion basis, but readers tend to spend more time with a magazine so you may need more exposure in a newspaper. In the current economic environment many media companies are willing to negotiate ad rates, but you would have to investigate that on a case by case basis.
                • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                  SBC Team Guide
                  Great answer Steve!!

                  Next question comes from FCPaintrer, they write:

                  If you are a business that only sporadically serves a customer (e.g. as a housepainter, we might do a house once every 5 years) would you still use a newsletter or would you recommend against it. Currently, we send out a mailing right before Christmas offering to collect coats for the salvation army. We feel like that is a nice way to stay in touch, do some good, and also visit their homes. What would you do if you ran a house painting company. I like the idea of a newsletter, but don't think homeowners want to hear from me every month.

                   

                  Remember to refresh your browsers
                    • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                      tpmtps Newbie

                      As a house painter you may not think you have much in common with a dentist, but I think the use of a postcard could be effective. Since your services are not needed on a regular basis I would recommend developing a series of creative postcards that coincide with the seasonal aspects of home painting maintenance; i.e exterior painting, interior touch-up and repainting. I like the idea of a postcard because it does not require the recipient to open an envelop and the right photo image or illustration can make your selling point with great impact. I also think you make a great point about how often the homeowner wants to hear from you. As one of many vendors vying for the homeowners' attention it is important to find the right balance - I think quarterly would make the most sense.
                        • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                          SBC Team Guide
                          Perfect!! Great job Steve!

                          Ok, just want to take a second to see if the community has any questions? Feel free to reply, your questions will be answered in order it was received. Thanks!

                          Again, refresh your browser.
                          • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                            SBC Team Guide
                            Now we're cooking with gas!

                            Next up, we have bearla asking:

                            I run a relatively young company selling shoes. We have a lot of online sales and a database of nearly 40K customers, as well as active Myspace and Facebook pages. What should I be considering when deciding about the frequency of a newsletter?

                            And once you've decided on the interval, how would you choose between 1) emailing a newsletter vs. 2) emailing a link to new content on our website vs. 3) mailing a hard-copy newsletter?
                              • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                                tpmtps Newbie

                                I like the idea of a weekly email newsletter or enewsletter. To me, an enewsletter is an email that links to content on your web site. The email can be designed like a newsletter, but you only include a headline and one or two sentences. This should give the reader enough information so that even if they don't click on the link they feel like they have learned something, but just aren't interested enough to go further; or if it is an area of interest to them they will follow the link back to your site. Ideally you have three or four items in the email that will target particular sub groups of your customer base. Remember, no one will be interested in every topic that you have on your site. The goal of the email is to get them to get back to your site, once there; you have the opportunity to generate revenue.
                                  • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                                    SBC Team Guide
                                    Community, keep those questions coming. We love the submissions so far!

                                    User caffeinated wants to know:

                                    Newsletters tend to be informational only. To make them more impactful, what sort of calls-to-action should a newsletter contain, if any?
                                      • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                                        tpmtps Newbie

                                        There is a certain expectation on the part of the recipient that a newsletter will not be overly commercial. In print you will want to limit your marketing efforts to including a buck slip promoting a product or service in the envelop or using a portion of the newsletter for some advertorial content. In some cases, depending on the subject of the newsletter, advertising could also be appropriate. I am a big believer in email newsletters that tease the reader with some good content but then drive the reader back to the sponsor's web site.
                                          • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                                            SBC Team Guide
                                            Excellent!

                                            We have a question from clnshirtz, I believe he is in the laundry/drycleaning business:

                                            STeve, Thanks for doing this. A question, I am trying to decide between making my yellow pages listing into an ad or investing in sponsoring a newsletter for the strip mall we are located in. In your experience, what would be a better investment for a business like mine.

                                             


                                            Refresh, Refresh, Refresh!!!
                                              • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                                                tpmtps Newbie

                                                It sounds like you already have a yellow pages listing so I would try to assess how that is working for you. I like the idea of the strip mall newsletter but I would really want to know the answers to the following questions:

                                                 


                                                How many copies will they be distributing?

                                                 

                                                Where and how they will distribute the copies?

                                                 

                                                How often they would be publishing?

                                                 

                                                What will be the content of this newsletter?

                                                 


                                                If the answers to these questions matched your ideal in terms of attracting new customers then I would give the newsletter a try. Remember, in marketing you always want to test new ideas and this sounds like a pretty good opportunity for a test.
                                                  • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                                                    SBC Team Guide

                                                    We're getting sad as we pass the last half of the hour, so get those questions in!
                                                      • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                                                        SBC Team Guide
                                                        Next, we have designer and he wants to know:

                                                        Q. How often should you purge your Mailing List? Also, for newsletters...is technology changing the way we communicate? With cell phone usage, I find it's better to keep messages one or two sentences long to get a point across effectively. If there are too many characters and text, people are not seeing the whole email and end up just deleting my emails. Thank you.

                                                        To see the latest responses, refresh those browsers of yours
                                                          • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                                                            tpmtps Newbie

                                                            It really depends on how often you are mailing to the list or how active the list is, but its good practice to purge the list at least once per year. As for your question about technology changing the way we communicate, I think the answer is a resounding yes. Think of your email subject line as a headline: short, descriptive and interesting. With direct mail the first object is to get the recipient to open the envelop, and with email you have to get them to open the email.
                                                              • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                                                                SBC Team Guide
                                                                The seventh question comes from akgold, he wants to know:

                                                                What are some future trends that you see for how the landscape of marketing is going to change in the future?

                                                                Also, in looking back 20 years, what were the major stages and trends that will help connect the dots to the future?

                                                                Thanks!

                                                                AKGold
                                                                  • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                                                                    tpmtps Newbie

                                                                    That's a question that could probably deserves as its own forum. Here are some quick thoughts.

                                                                    If the past 20 years are any indication, then I think it's fair to say that there is no way, with any certainty, to predict how we will be marketing in the future. The biggest change in the past 20 years has been the internet and that has all but revolutionized the way companies market. Ironically, the internet has helped create a global economy but it has also fostered the ability for individualized marketing. Cell phone technology, social networking, blogs and tivo, just to name a few, have all impacted the marketing landscape. In terms of the future I think you'd have to ask Steve Jobs or Bill Gates to tell us where technology is going and that would help us figure out what the new marketing strategies will be.
                                                                      • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                                                                        SBC Team Guide

                                                                        Hey everybody, Steve would like to extend the event to answer two more questions for you. Thanks Steve!

                                                                        clnshirtz has been busy, he asks:

                                                                        What are the most common mistakes you see Small Business Owners making when it comes to using or not using newsletters, e-mails, and their website content. I don't know much about this but am intrigued at the idea of using a blog or a newsletter to help make more of a connection to our customers.
                                                                          • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                                                                            tpmtps Newbie

                                                                            I think the biggest problem I see with email is a lack of content. Most emails I get from companies are straight promotions, the electronic equivalent of direct mail. Since one of the benefits of email is the low cost of delivery, I think more companies should develop email ideas that can be delivered on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. In order to get your customers to open the email I would want to give them something interesting or useful to read. Let's say you are a local bicycle shop. Rather than just sending an email to announce a sale, you can inform your customers about upcoming races in the area, or local charity rides. You can request customers to submit photos from previous events. You can provide links to manufacturers' web sites. You might even get one of your manufacturers to sponsor your email.

                                                                             


                                                                            I think a blog is a potentially great idea, but it's a lot harder than it looks. You have to be able to spend the time to make it interesting and worthwhile and then you have to keep it going, which takes a real commitment. Done well, it allows you to exhibit your expertise in your field, which is a valuable asset for generating new business.
                                                                              • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                                                                                SBC Team Guide
                                                                                Winding down, our second to last question is from Generation04:

                                                                                I always wanted to write a book and sell it in a major book store. How does a novice like me shop a book to a major publishing house - get it printed and collect royalties? How does one break into this industry if you don't have any connections?
                                                                                  • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                                                                                    tpmtps Newbie

                                                                                    Unfortunately, it is very difficult for a first time author to get a book published by a major publisher. You don't mention what type of book and that could play a role in which publisher might make the most sense. Of course with the internet more people are self-publishing and trying to build awareness online through the various social networking sites, blogs and other commercial sites. Good luck!
                                                                                      • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                                                                                        SBC Team Guide
                                                                                        And our last question is from SJCarpentry:

                                                                                        I liked your article on the site about treating people with respect. I have 2 related questions - it seems you have really grown your business quite a bit. What has been the key to your success taht we can learn from. Secondly, how did you finance your growth (e.g. bank loan, no loan, friends and family) and third, what strategies have you learned to win bids from big
                                                                                          • Re: Live Q&A with Steve Farbman from 2-3PM EST Going On Now!
                                                                                            tpmtps Newbie

                                                                                            I'm glad you liked the article. I originally purchased a company with a partner using private money mostly through friends and family. We were able to grow by using cash flow from the existing business. I think one of the keys to our success is directly related to your other question about how to win business from bigger competitors. We have strived from the beginning to have the principals and our key executives very involved in all of our projects. Larger companies usually hand the work off to junior people once they land the business, but we believed that if you hire us you are hiring us for our expertise and experience. Therefore, we are very hands-on, at a senior level, with our customers and work very closely with them. If any of our customers have a problem they know they can call me directly. In addition, since our infrastructure is most likely much smaller than many of our competitors we can usually offer price advantages without giving up our margin.