image of a wrapped giftYou may read the title and think, “Psh, marketing as a selfless act? I don’t think so.” But hear me out on this one. A colleague recently introduced me to the idea of marketing as education and sales as service, and I’m warming to the idea. Here’s why:


Your readers and customers want something: Entertainment, products, specific services from skilled providers. You offer content, physical items, or services and need clients to purchase or view them to keep your business going. Reaching people who are in the process of seeking, and offering them the things that they seek, benefits you both. And doing so through your email newsletter is an elegant and direct way to connect your offerings with the people who need them.

Balance of Content

Although an email newsletter is definitely a marketing and sales tool, it shouldn’t be loaded down with hard-sell copy and discounts every single time it mails. In fact, you want to aim for 90% non-sales to 10% sales copy in each newsletter. The 10% will vary based on your particular business model, but what should that 90% be? Ideally, interesting, educational, and entertaining information that’s relevant to your business and customers. This can be anecdotes about recent doings behind-the-scenes, links to helpful articles you’ve come across during your internet wanderings, tutorials, recipes, DIY project suggestions — just about anything that adds value to your mailings. When you focus on this content breakdown, a marketing and sales tool becomes a valued service as well.


The emails that Ann Taylor and Groupon send out every day don’t need to include anything besides sales-related information: Relatively few people expect helpful, enriching content from big-name brand stores and vendors. But if you’re a small business, a blogger, or an independent contractor, you’re in a different boat. Email your list every week with nothing but ads, and your list will quickly dwindle. The 90/10 breakdown builds trust and loyalty amongst your subscribers. You might bring it down to 80/20 when you’ve got new services or products, or perhaps during the holidays … but tip the scales much further and people will bail in droves.

You’re in business to fulfill a need. Conceptualizing your marketing efforts — including your email newsletter — as providing a helpful, educational service to your audience and customers helps you focus on how your business improves the lives of the people who support it. It’s a subtle mental shift, but one that can make your copy and content seem all the more genuine, engaging, and valuable.

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