The Information Marketing Primer For Helping and Healing Solo-Professionals – Part 4 – Free Report

In previous articles in this series, I talked about the importance of creating another stream of income in addition to your direct service hours. Information marketing is a natural fit for you as a solo-professional because of your extensive knowledge and expertise. It can prove to be a great source of additional income or replacement income should you cut back on direct service hours. I also discussed the importance of choosing your target market and creating an online presence.

In this article of the series, I will have you diving into the world of information marketing by creating your very first information product – the Free or Special Report. You may be asking yourself “If I’m supposed to be creating a revenue stream through selling my information to my targeted audience, why am I starting with a free product?”

There’s a good reason for it that I alluded to in previous articles…you have to build up your credibility and visibility and you have to build up your potential list of customers for your products. Having a blog is one way to create this credibility and visibility. Having a free report to offer from your static one-page or multiple page website is a critical way to increase your credibility and visibility and to drive people to your business. Making a sale directly to a “cold audience” isn’t easy, but it becomes much easier to make a sale if you are selling to people who are growing to know, like and trust you.

The Free or Special Report

There are two formats in which you can create your free or special report. One is in a written format and the other is in audio format. You are probably stronger in one or the other – writing or speaking – so start with the one that is best for you. But plan on having most of your information in more than one format because your customers most likely have their preferences for how they want to consume your information. I’ll focus on the written format in this installment and on the audio format in the next installment.

The first thing to do whether you are doing an audio or written free report is to decide the subject of this report. This is based on the target market you have chosen and what their most pressing needs are.

Let’s go back to an example in a previous installment of the nurse practitioner who specializes in working with children with ADHD. From your direct service work you know that two main concerns for parents are their child’s behavior problems and also their child’s low self-esteem. Your free report could focus on one or the other (not both) – managing behavior or helping raise their child’s self-esteem.

Or in the example of the acupuncturist who has a strong interest in helping people avoid diseases that are related to poor diet and lifestyle choices, your free report could focus on the factors that contribute to poor health or on the factors that contribute to good health.

The most important thing to remember in this report is that you are giving the “Why” and the “What”, but not the “How”…that is what they will have to pay for through your information products or your services.

You want to make sure that your free report is substantive but not so lengthy that it overwhelms your readers. A good minimum of pages is 10; maximum number is about 30 pages.

Make sure you give the free or special report a provocative or noteworthy title such as “10 Biggest Mistakes Parents of Children with ADHD Make…and How to Avoid Them” or “Seven Absolutely Essential Things You Have to Do to Not Die from Diseases Caused by Poor Lifestyle Choices”. These kinds of titles get people’s attention!

Here’s a simple format for the report:

State the problem or the source of pain for your targeted reader. (“As a parent, you find yourself frustrated and disheartened as every night turns into a battleground with your ADHD child…” or “Obesity is an epidemic in this country that is completely avoidable…”)

Add some real-life examples of this problem or pain – make it more real in their minds.

Explain why this is happening or what the causes are or what is the theory behind this problem.

Explain why what your readers have been doing to date hasn’t been working

Provide your solution without going into the “How” (“We know from several long-term studies that a behavioral program, coupled with family therapy can bring…” or “We know that eliminating processed foods, cutting out sugar, eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables…”)

Then give them the next step. For right now, as you do not yet have your information product developed, the next best step would be getting them to your email newsletter so that you can keep in touch with and eventually introduce your products to them. Once you do have a product, you will introduce it to your readers at the end of your free report. This change can be easily made when you are ready.

We will discuss the Ezine or email newsletter in Part Six of this series. Once you have your free or special report completed and your email newsletter in place, it’s time to start rolling out your information products to your audience. I’ll start presenting on how to develop these products in Part Seven.

Don’t Market With Postcards Before Finding About Every Door Direct Mail

Do you currently mail postcards for your business? This program can save you thousands over the course of a direct mail campaign. Every Door Direct Mail is changing the way that businesses market with postcards by allowing them to mail postcards with no mailing address. Do you want to make sure that every one of your neighbors know about your company? If so, this program is perfect for you.

Every Door Direct Mail Retail program started in March of 2011 and it allows US businesses to bring their marketing material to their local post office and mail for 14.2 cents per postcard. Previously to the start of this program the post office would charge 44 cents for a stamp. This new price equals a 66% savings off the cost of that stamp. Best of all, customers do not have to buy a mailing list or pay a mail house to prepare the mail for them. Never before has it been so easy for businesses to mail to their prospects.

The post office has created a website for EDDM that will allow you to target your address and pick all of the mailing routes in your area. Once you have decided which routes to mail, and print out the paper work from the website. Call up a printer and send them your artwork to print. Once you receive your printing back just bundle your postcards in increments of 50 and place your facing slip from the paperwork you received when you pulled your routes from the USPS site.

From there, take the paperwork and the printing to your local post office and your mail will be delivered within two days!

It really is that easy for customers to use the Every Door Direct Mail program to create mailing campaigns that are effective and inexpensive. We recommend putting an offer or a coupon on your postcard mailing and that way you can track the responses and value that you receive through the EDDM program.

Also, we recommend full color printing because that will give you the best bang for your buck when marketing to local businesses. Full color printing is less expensive than it has ever been before. This is a great time to use color printed postcards to market your business because the costs are lower than they have ever been.

We are confident that you will receive great value from the Every Door Direct Mail program should you choose to go the route of postcard marketing for your business.

Four Small Business Direct Mail Marketing Campaigns That Say “Remember Me”

With direct-mail marketing persistence is a virtue. Your mail piece may find that one prospect that is ‘ready to buy what you’re offering right now’, but in most cases the recipients of your direct mail marketing piece are those that are categorized as the ‘buying in the future’ or ‘thinking about it’ categories. Your persistence will pay off when prospects in those categories move to the ‘ready to purchase’ category. There are four types of direct mail marketing campaigns discussed in this article.

1. Tip-of-the-Month Series

A monthly mailing is the easiest way to achieve consistency. The content for those mailings should be something that you know a lot about. Your tips need to be related to what your product/service is. Think about what your customer would use or need either right before or after they buy your product. What issues are your prospects facing and think of several solutions (not just buying your product/service).

If you’re a Real Estate Agent, for example, one issue your prospect may face is a growing family and the house is too small. Your solutions would be tips about how to put on an addition, remodel, or find a larger house.

Keep your tips relevant to what your product/service is and it will provide two benefits for you. First, you will be seen as an expert in your field. Secondly, you become a pre-qualified vendor in the prospects mind and they will be more inclined to work with you when they are ready to purchase what you’re offering.

2. Recognition Campaign

This campaign identifies and rewards your existing customers by saying ‘thank you’. It is suggested that you tone down the marketing when using this approach. When you’re sending a ‘thank you’ leave the sales pitch off completely. This is very effective for your existing customers to keep you ‘top of mind’ and refer you to others.

Use this approach to single out your targeted prospects. Start by making them an exclusive offer your general mailings do not. Explain why they are receiving mailings from you and what to expect to receive each month. Keep the sales pitch in but the personality of your message should over shadow it.

3. Pre-/Post-Sale Campaign

Use this campaign to follow your prospect throughout the entire purchasing cycle resulting in customer follow-up. This will create consistency, repetition and follow-up.

Let’s look at a window replacement example:

A company makes a sale to replace several windows and sends postcards to other homes in the area announcing that they will be in the neighborhood. Once the windows are in (make sure your yard sign is in the front yard), the company sends another card to reflect this, and then begins mailing to the area on a regular basis. The company is now developing recognition in the target area. All postcards need a strong call to action providing the recipient a reason to contact them, see the house with new windows, or visit the company’s website.

With this campaign you show prospects what you can do and then ask if you can do it for them.

4. Drive To Your Website

Direct-mail postcards will drive prospects to your web page. The postcard informs your prospects about a free gift, great discount offer, or a Special Report on your website to get them there. Once they are on your website you want to keep them there. Ensure you have a content rich website with information that will be valuable to your prospect. With this campaign you draft a plan about when you will update your website and with what type of information. Use the postcards to announce your updates and the value to the prospect to visit again.

Postcards are cost effective and work well by themselves and/or with other marketing mediums like e-mails, telephone calls, or even sales calls. Establish a frequency and you will be top-of-mind in your prospects eyes for very little money.

These are just a few of the ways you can campaign with direct mail. Experiment to find a plan that suits your particular situation, your products or services, and then see it through. You may find that a combination of these will produce new leads and generate increased sales. A successful direct mail campaign will say ‘remember me’.