LAN Systems
May/June 2010

Please vote for us in the 2010 Best of Gwinnett. Use this link, enter your name and email, choose Business, Best IT Service, LAN Systems, submit.  Thanks a million!


Try our brain teaser this month, it's a good one.  To enter our May Puzzle Contest, just click here.  Again, we'll use our random number generator to pick the winner.

Hope to hear from you soon!


Using newsletters to reach customers

Keeping in touch with customers is more than sending sales offers.  Good correspondence should include items that are of interest and benefit.  Be sure that the format is pleasing to your readers. Often less is more. Don't clutter your newsletter with ads or marketing material.  Spend time to optimize your content and format so you get more readers that look forward to each issue.
Choose a format
Format is a personal choice, but be sure that you choose a format that is pleasing to your readers.  Depending on your industry and customer base, you may have long or short articles. There are many ways to test format, but be sure to test and modify.  You can test with a select group of customers or you could create several formats and see which one works the best.  Both of those strategies take time.  At a minimum, track the opens and clicks from each issue of your online newsletter. If you use a newsletter service, it is easy to get these metrics.
Layout - Carefully choose a layout that is attractive and suited to your readers. Putting your logo at the top and information about your company and offerings on the sidebar is a classic format.  You may want to experiment with some more daring themes, but once you choose a format stick with it so your readers will recognize each issue.  Newsletter format is branding.
Article length - The length of articles not only depends on the topic but your readers. If your readers are computer programmers and your article is about specifics of programming, you can write long informative articles that are well read.  If you write articles for business people, you have to quickly get to the point. For your online newsletter, use links so the reader can learn more about a topic. 
Testing length and content - Make sure that you are tracking clicks on the links.  This way you will know the link popularity by the number of clicks.  When a customer clicks on the link, you can track by email address and make a sales follow-up call.  But don't tell the customer that you are calling because they clicked on a link.  That's a sure way to turn off your prospect.
Use pictures and graphics - People like to look at pictures.  In each issue, be sure to include a couple of attractive pictures that match the content.  There are several royalty free sites where you can get pictures, illustrations and videos for a reasonable cost. 
Add Content
Use real news, tips and offers. Examples are: company and industry news, business tips and advice, money saving offers and announcement of new products. Don't use filler, it will be obvious to your readers.  And once you start, you have to be consistent.  If you have a quarterly newsletter, be sure to publish it quarterly!
Company news - Give real information about what your company is doing for employees, customers and the community.  Press releases are valuable for promoting your company. Use the content created for press releases for your newsletters. Press releases are written in the third person, so be sure to change to first person narratives for newsletters.  First person articles are more personal and allow you to connect with customers. Be sure to include any events or activities that you are hosting. 
Industry news - Let your customers know about industry news that you find interesting.  This requires that you keep updated on what is going on in your industry.  Make sure the news is relevant. If it's not informational, don't use it.  
Business tips and advice - This is the most important content of your newsletter as it establishes you as the expert.  Use time-saving and money-saving tips that have step-by-step examples or specific case studies. For business advice, be clear and concise.  Give examples on how you have achieved benefits.  These types of articles can be used for your blog, technical notes or web page content.
Article reprint and guest contributors - These are easy ways to build content.  Be sure you have permission for reprints and that guest articles are relevant to your content.  Inviting guests to submit to your newsletter can be good for partnership building. 
Money saving offers - Use special offers in your newsletters that are really unique.  Offers should be a good value and relevant to your market.  Don't use the same offer over and over. Make sure that the offer is targeted and special. You don't have to include a special offer in each issue of your newsletter.
New products - Whether your own product or a partner product, add new products that help your customers be more efficient and productive.  In general, the case for products should have a value statement that shows how you can increase revenue or reduce costs.  Some products have a "cool" factor that you may want to include even if you can't quantify the benefits.
Before you publish - proofread!
For more tips, visit:

Article from guest contibutor, Lee Machen

Succession Planning After The Crisis 

The recession took its toll on businesses of all sizes, and the impact went beyond dwindling cash flow. Small-business succession plans-and their role in personal estate plans-have also been affected, and you may need to revisit your blueprint for leaving the company and make adjustments to address a changed economic landscape. But you might also find ways to turn the downturn to your advantage.


One crucial element of any succession plan is a buy-sell agreement that establishes how the value of the business will be determined when you leave. But in the wake of the economic downturn, your company may well be worth less than it was a few years ago. If you're counting on proceeds from a sale to fund your retirement, you could decide to delay your exit until the company's value rebounds, or you might need to look for other income sources, perhaps from part-time consulting for other businesses that could supplement the sale proceeds.


If you're transferring all or part of the business to family members, however, a decline in its value could be helpful. Assuming the company profits from the economic rebound, shares you give away now should be worth more later, maximizing the impact of current tax-free gifts.


Other estate planning techniques can capitalize on a business's temporarily reduced value. For example, an intentionally defective grantor trust (IDGT) can effectively freeze the value of shares at current levels. Or, with a grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT), the assumed value of a future gift to your heirs will be reduced not only by the low current value of the business but also by today's rock-bottom interest rates. That could limit or eliminate your gift-tax liability. We can work with you and your attorney to evaluate your succession plan and consider whether these or other techniques and strategies could be financially advantageous.


C. Lee Machen ChFC CLU, Managing Member, Executive Advisor Group, LLC,

Go to for our contact information, additional articles, and our disclosure information.

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In This Issue
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Succession planning
Network Group

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