As a small business owner, the money is in the mailing list. Let me repeat that: THE MONEY IS IN THE MAILING LIST.
It doesn't matter who your target customers are or even if you're a location specific business, you need a mailing list and you need a way to get people to subscribe to it, right? But, you don't just want ANYBODY signing up for your newsletter list, you want your ideal customers subscribing – the people who are going to buy your stuff.
So, for example, let's say you're a wedding planner in a major city; you have a newsletter and you're giving away a free e-book titled “How to become a wedding planner”. Well, while that's awesome and you should probably start coaching folks to do that if you have enough knowledge for an ebook, it's not getting your ideal customers to subscribe, you're having people who want to steal your business subscribe. So, instead, you want to maybe include a printable checklist for something wedding related that brides will want as your newsletter freebie.
It's hard no matter what industry you're in to figure out what YOU have to offer your subscribers but there has to be a catch, something to pull them in to the subscription, so try a few of these suggestions:
- A Checklist. Just like in the example above, think about your ideal customer and a problem they might have, then, create a downloadable/printable list for them to use to help solve that problem. Make it pretty or have a designer make it pretty – nobody likes ugly checklists.
- Spreadsheets. Ok, so you have to have the skills here but, still. Just as with the checklist option, a spreadsheet can solve some type of problem for your ideal customer. A budget or seating chart spreadsheet for brides, a spreadsheet for organizing cold calling for a small business, etc.
- Desktop/iPhone backgrounds. Everybody loves a good background but definitely make it pretty and appropriate. Sticking with the above example, a bride probably doesn't want a background that says “do what you love, love what you do”, but would LOVE one that said something like “Bride to be”.
- E-Books. If you've got some good crap to share for your ideal customer, write a short E-book and put it up as incentive for your subscribers.
- Newsletter E-Course: Have something you can teach in a series of emails, give that away!
- Coupons. Are you a product-based business owner? Then, by all means, your ideal customer is anyone who will buy your stuff, so give them coupons, they'll sign up so you've got them on the list to push to and then they'll use them, so that's a win-win.
- Secret knowledge. Very similar to e-books you can share your knowledge with your customer.
- Free products. On the same page as coupons.
I hope those ideas help you in deciding what you might have to offer to your subscribers!
Don't forget to actually use your newsletter list once you've gotten subscribers, you want to KEEP your subscribers so that they don't forget about you AND so you can directly share new products/services with them!