by Wendy Maynard, Marketing Maven
You may think your biggest business asset is your equipment or your inventory. But, you have two assets even more important than these. Your first big asset is your expertise: your unique knowledge and the specific way that your company helps your clients.
Your second asset is your list of satisfied, loyal customers, as well as your pool of warm prospects with whom you are building a relationship of credibility and trust. Building this list and keeping in touch is your ticket to an ongoing, steady stream of income – no matter what the economy is doing. And this is true regardless of the type of business you run. These individuals will develop a fierce brand loyalty and they will spread the word about how much they love you.
Here are some tips to build your list of leads and prospects:
If you have a website, make sure you have some kind of name capture mechanism. In exchange for people’s contact information, offer a subscription to an ezine, a free report, an e-course, coupon, sample, or some other perk.
Make sure you have an effective online system to collect the names of your customers and prospects. The best program I’ve found for managing my lead generation and follow-up activities is MavenMerchant.com. This program allows you to set up a name capture form for your website or blog, as well as autoresponders to automate the process of communicating with your list on a regular basis. Set it up and let it work for you as your online salesperson – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you have a physical location, place a sign-up form in an obvious place for your visitors so you can stay in touch with them on an ongoing basis. You can offer an incentive to sign up such as special coupons, discounts, or a print newsletter with tips. For instance, one of my clients owns a retail boutique and she offers special VIP Customer Discount Events.
When you give speeches, presentations, and attend trade shows, collect the names of people you interact with! In exchange for their contact information, offer people a prize like a free product or a discount. You can do the same thing if you offer telephone seminars or online courses to your clients.
Grow your list by conducting a joint venture with a like-minded business. This is one of the most powerful ways to grow a list of qualified leads. For example, a mortgage broker and Realtor can offer a free seminar on home buying. Both businesses can collect the names of the attendees.
Submit articles to various websites, ezines, and industry publications. Make sure each article has a resource box with information about your business and a link to a name capture page. Submit Your Article is a powerful service that will send your articles to numerous websites. For a fre.e online service, try EzineArticles.com
Good ‘ol phone calls can also do the trick. They often say something like: “Oh my goodness, I am so glad you called! Getting in touch with you has been on my list for weeks now. Let’s set up a time to meet because I have this great new idea for a project…” And off we go!
Direct mail is a relatively inexpensive way to keep in touch. There are so many different types of direct mail you can send to your list. But you can keep it simple. All you really need is a regular postcard to remind people of your presence. If you want to get more complicated, you can send a printed newsletter, thank-you card, or special letters with gifts inside.
Anyone and everyone who has ever purchased from you should go on your list. It is much easier and cost effective to cross-sell and up-sell to past, satisfied customers than it is to convert a prospect into a customer. Regularly keep in touch to ensure your company stays in the forefront of their awareness.
Be sure to track your marketing activities with your customers and prospects. This includes direct mail, phone calls, estimates sent, and meetings. You can use something as simple as Microsoft Outlook, which has client relationship management (CRM) functions. You can also use software with more robust CRM capabilities such as ACT! or Goldmine. If you don’t need to have the latest version of these, look on Ebay for great deals on an earlier release of the software.
Action Item: Take a look at your current system for collecting names and following up with prospects and customers. How do you store your contact data? What actions will you take in the next three months to improve the list-building aspect of your marketing, and how will you reach out to them on a regular basis?