The most valuable and often overlooked asset that every business has is a list of past and present customers, and a list of people that have expressed an interest in becoming customers. It amazes me when I meet other business owners who do not actively work their list. What I mean by working your list is simply having an actionable game plan to make sure that they think of you the next time they need your product or service. The easiest and most cost effective way to do this is with an email newsletter. Another good way to keep your company in the front of peoples mind is send an occasional piece of mail.
There are many other ways such as seminars, dinners and other planned events for your customers but in this article we’ll focus on the two most inexpensive, simple and effective ways to mine the gold that’s in your list: an email newsletter and direct mail.
Since the main purpose of an email newsletter is to keep people aware of you and your business, and to keep them from unsubscribing to your list, I suggest keeping it informative with a simple call to action. If you try to hammer a sale or special down their throats you will eventually lose your audience. Think about your customer base and provide useful information they can use that will reach a broad audience. If you don’t want to write articles yourself you can always hire someone to do that or just find good third party articles that you can share with them. When crafting your call to action be sure to segment your list so that the offer hits the right audience. In other words, don’t ask prospects for referrals and don’t send a “first time customer 10% off” offer to your regular customers.
When you are trying to decide what kind of content to use and what frequency to send your newsletter it might be helpful to examine newsletters that you are subscribed to and analyze them closely. Why do you keep getting them? Why haven’t you unsubscribed? Think about the ones you have unsubscribed from. Why did you unsubscribe? Have you ever made another purchase from a company because of their newsletter? Why? Answering these questions can go a long way towards getting your concept and plan in place. Subscribe to some competitors list and “borrow” what you like and learn from their mistakes. As far as frequency is concerned, I would say that any longer period than monthly is not enough and more often than weekly is too much. Decide what you think will work best for your list.
For the direct mail pieces I prefer simple postcards with a little humor and an offer. Don’t try to send too much information in a mail piece. A “thank you” for placing on order or a referral is a nice touch. Holiday greetings with a seasonal special always generate some response. I like to try and get a piece of mail out to active customers monthly and less frequent customers every two or three months. After 5-6 mailings if they haven’t ordered I’ll usually just keep them on the email list and maybe send a Christmas card.
If you think you’re just too busy with managing day to day operations, marketing to find new customers, and keeping the plates spinning to mine the gold that’s in your list, you should consider re-organizing your priorities. Keeping in touch with past, present, and future customers should be a cornerstone of every successful business.
by Matt Fortenbery
CEO Total Printing Solution
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