The upside of zines

A zine is a low-cost, high-impact marketing tool that can be a building block in an integrated guerrilla marketing campaign. At a fraction of the cost of other tools, such as direct mail, a zine can heighten your visibility in the marketplace, build your reputation as an expert, and open dialogues with prospective clients. A zine has enormous potential for generating leads for your practice.

The continuous nature of zines is ideal for consultants because so much of their business depends on building long-term, ongoing relationships. The continuity of zines gives guerrillas a systematic way to remain in contact with clients by providing them with vital, timely information, analysis, and feedback. A zine keeps you on clients' radar without the intrusiveness of telephone calls or the need for in-person visits.

Clients are eager for knowledge that can help them solve pressing problems, find out what is going on in their industry, and learn what the competition is up to. But the pace of business is fast, and most clients don't have the opportunity or the perspective for the independent analysis that an expert can provide. Zines can benefit clients by summarizing relevant information and delivering it to them quickly.

Consulting projects tend to have long sales cycles. A zine can help you make a strong impression during that process, and can provide ready topics for discussion with clients from initial meetings about a project, through the proposal and negotiation phase, and beyond.

Zines help you turn prospects into clients and clients into advocates. They allow you to maintain ongoing dialogue with readers that you would not otherwise have. You have complete editorial control, so you can customize your zine quickly in response to the feedback you receive.

The search for zine content will stimulate you to think more creatively about how the issues of the day influence your clients' success. That search will give you a focus and point of reference as you sift through the overwhelming amount of information that affects the business world today. The insights you develop in the process not only will make your zine valuable to clients, but will be equally useful in all your other marketing activities, from speeches to proposal writing.

You can publish a zine with little cost and minimal resources. All you need to start is a computer, an e-mail program, and subscribers. At first, it will take time to build your zine, but as you progress, it will become easier. You always have the option of outsourcing some parts of the zine or the entire publication (more on this later).

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