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By Carl Weinschenk

Small business people who want to use the Internet to market and sell their products need to either master many intricacies about the new platform or hire people who do these things for a living. Even if the latter path is taken, it's important to have an idea of how things work simply to ensure that the vendor is honest and competent.

Email newsletters are a great example of this. To somebody without an inkling of how the Internet works, an email newsletter may seem like a nice way to keep customers, prospects, aunts and uncles up to date on a business. It is that, to be sure, but also so much more. Creating and successfully reaching a targeted audience is much more complex than throwing some odds and ends into a template and pressing the send button.

The complexity of email marketing newsletters is suggested in this nicely done column by Mark Brownlow at MarketingProfs.com.

For our money, his second tip—"being too publisher-centric"—is the most important. Everyone knows the excruciating level of promotional email that arrives on a daily basis. Not providing real value, and packaging it in a way that doesn't scream the company's name too loudly, are vital. If this isn't done, people will bypass both the useful information and the company's marketing message.

Carl Weinschenk is the Editorial Director of SmartBiz.

Carl Weinschenk is the Editorial Director of SmartBiz.
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