Staffing Advisors is an independent staffing broker and consultancy based in Washington, D.C. Several years ago Bob Corlett, the company’s president, started an e-mail newsletter called “HR Jobs to Share” to broadcast human resources-related jobs that he had heard about to his friends and family—about 40 to 50 people, he said.
Soon after, he started getting subscription requests from people that had received his messages from their own friends. He managed the list himself, using ACT! as his database and list management tool, but more often than not his messages would get stuck in his own outbox.
“Our spam filter would block my newsletter. I had to spend two hours on the administrative side, which made me reluctant to keep sending the newsletter,” he said.
But Corlett was getting such positive feedback from the newsletter that he decided to go another route: He hired e-mail service provider Constant Contact to handle the distribution. In addition, because the vendor provides templates, Corlett was able to streamline the creation process, he said, while still keeping true to his company’s brand and logo.
“We altered the templates so the design of the newsletter would reflect what our Web site looks like,” he said. “We wanted to have a consistent look and feel.”
The newsletter continued to grow, so Corlett soon decided to launch a second, featuring links to industry news and fun comments about each item, as well as columns from guest writers. That newsletter, which features a forward-to-a-friend link, took off almost immediately, he said.
“People thought of us as a thought-leader. We were giving them information that helps them be more successful, and they really, really liked that. People might not need our services when they are reading the newsletter, but when they do need someone like us, they think of us first,” he said.
Corlett is very careful to include as little self-promotional marketing content as possible, he said, because he sees a direct correlation between the inclusion of company propaganda and the amount of opt-outs.
“When we include sales-y stuff, we saw people dropping off the list immediately,” he said. “In the staffing realm, most people are under assault all the time. They feel like they are under siege so we needed to do the opposite of that.”
He also removed outside advertising completely, he said, because people just weren’t clicking through. It wasn’t providing a value to advertisers, so he removed it preemptively.
The original e-mail newsletter has grown from a list of about 40 people to more than 950. The monthly newsletter, which launched at the beginning of 2004, reaches 1,500 people. Most important, Corlett said he can attribute new clients and speaking engagements directly to his e-mail strategy. The newsletters have also upped Corlett’s own stock, he said.
“I was nominated for a community service award,” he said. “I’ve had people hire me to do speaking engagements. We’re growing organically because we’re giving people things they can use and they trust.”