I think I get more questions about lists than just about any other marketing topic. And quite honestly, it IS the single most important element in any marketing initiative.
But I seem to have a hard time getting people to understand that it’s not the list that you buy that will save you, but rather the list that you build.
As of today, I have over 15,000 warm prospects and customers on my list. When I started out 8 years ago, I didn’t have 100. BUT, I diligently groomed, mailed, and added to that list to make it what it is today — and now I can generate sales very easily because I have a ready-made, highly qualified, highly interested list to mail to. How did I build it? Entirely through joint ventures and other direct response advertising.
And I cannot urge you enough to make sure that you are passionate about building and communicating to your house list. To that end, a few pointers…
- Make sure EVERYONE goes into your database. Of course, you must HAVE a database in order to put people in it. NEVER let a business card grow old on your desk. Put it in a database and make sure you source every lead (meaning you have a field that tells you where the person came from). In our office, I constantly repeat the mantra “Everyone goes into ACT!” You need to do the same in your office… and the habit starts with YOU.
- Don’t just put clients and prospects on your list; also include joint venture partners and people of influence. If you know the Chamber Director, a local columnist, the chair of a charity or an association, put them in your database and communicate with them as often as your clients.
- Mail your house list more consistently. If you don’t, you kill any momentum you may have started to generate. This happens all the time where someone starts mailing a monthly newsletter and then gets busy and “forgets” to mail their lists for a couple of months. Bad idea! Timing is critical to making a sale in the IT world. If you aren’t consistently showing up on your clients and prospects desks, you are missing out on opportunities.
- Mail your house list more frequently. As the old saying goes, out of sight out of mind. If you are ever in need of good ideas (and are a client), just dig into the Toolkit or Managed Services Blueprint or heck, even my monthly newsletters to look for inspiration. Frequency builds familiarity, and familiarity breeds trust. That’s why it’s a fact that people traveling to foreign countries will eat at a McDonalds over the local fare. They know what to expect.
- Mail your cold prospects, unconverted leads, and lost customers more persistently. There’s an old direct marketing joke that isn’t very funny, but it makes the point: A guy calls up a mail order company aggravated by all the mail they are sending him and demands that they take him off the list. The person answering the phone looks him up in the database and says “I don’t really think you want to do that.” He angrily replies, “Why not!?!?” He says, “Because you are on the “A” list. If I take you off of that, you’ll be placed in the “B” list. And while you can get off the “A” list any time you want, you can NEVER be taken off the “B” list.” (okay, I didn’t say it was going to be funny)
- Make your mailings more creative. Lumpy mail, grabbers, stories behind the offer, pictures of you, your staff, your dog, etc. Of course, don’t be creative just for creative sake — make it interesting and tied to selling something. You want your customers & prospects to actually open your mail because they want to see what you’re up to.