Attention Grabbing Email Email is revolutionizing the art and science of direct marketing, bringing new marketers new opportunities and challenges.

Try these attention-getting ideas to make the most of your email marketing:

1. Sponsor a contest. Give away something as an inducement for prospects to give you something. The prize doesn't have to be large or expensive, although trips and cash tend to draw the most attention.

2. Publish an online newsletter. Develop a newsletter about the business you are in or a related topic that will interest the people you want to do business with.

3. Publicize special promotions or events. If you are promoting a new product, holding an open house or participating in a trade show or cobranded campaign, use your mailing list to publicize it.

4. Drive traffic to your Web site. Email, direct mail and advertising all can have a stimulating effect on your company`s Web site. Whether you`re just starting out on the Internet or upgrading your Web site to meet Y2K specifications, use your mailing lists to get the word out.

5. Make new product or personnel announcements or press releases. Got a hot new service? Product upgrade? Did you hire a new sales manager? Moving to a new location or changing your phone number? Mailing lists are the perfect way to distribute this type of information. Give your customers advance notice of what`s coming, and let the trade press know what's up.

6. Offer discounts. Everybody loves a bargain, and you can use your mailing list to alert customers and prospects to your latest deals. Offering the discount to the mailing list communicates the feeling that customers have been selected to receive special privileges.

7. Solicit surveys. Mailing lists are an easy way to solicit participants for a survey and communicate survey results. Send out the questions. Tally up the responses. Report back the results. Readers appreciate having their voices heard.

8. Care for customers. Stay in touch with clients, cheaply and quickly. Thank them for their business. Ask their opinions about your service, your products, your Web site. "What can we be doing better to ___________?" You may not like everything you hear, but creating a dialogue builds loyalty and trust.

9. Encourage participation in government, civic and community projects. Publicize issues and meetings, and solicit public support at hearings before commissions and boards, city councils and industry associations.

10. Tell a joke. The Internet is famous as a joke-sharing medium. Get a jump on the competition by sharing good, clean jokes with your clients. It may not make a sale today, but a good joke can help your name stick in a buyer`s mind.