As I work with small business owners to increase their income, there is one common mistake that I see most people making. Now, I understand that mistake because I made it as well.
When I started my construction company over 10 years ago, I was focused on helping people remodel their homes. I didn’t really understand marketing. I had the skills and knowledge to complete the construction that they needed. But, I really didn’t know how to effectively market my business and increase sales.
Therefore, I read a lot of books and went to workshops to try to learn about marketing. But honestly, I didn’t spend as much time on this skill as I should have. There was plenty of work. Therefore, I spent most of my efforts on improving my sales skills. And, unfortunately, the books that I read mainly talked about advertising and did not prevent me from making the mistake I’m going to share with you today.
[Tweet “Sometimes the greatest improvements we can make come from the simplest of actions.”]
When the economy started to turn and I saw the number of new leads diminishing, I realized that I needed to focus on learning about marketing. In that process I came across one of the biggest mistakes that I was making.
That mistake was… I did not build and regularly communicate with a list.
“What is a list?” You may ask. Simply put it is a database of past customers and prospects who are interested in your goods and services. Now I had a list of my past customers in my accounting software. But, I did not have a list of all the people that through the years had inquired about our services but not bought from us.
Additionally, I was doing nothing to regularly communicate with those who have done business with us in the past.
Therefore we started building a list. We started with the database of past customers. Then we started adding everyone that inquired about our products and services. Next, we started collecting names and addresses at trade shows and other networking opportunities. Fairly quickly we built a large base of those that wanted to hear from us.
Once we had a list we concentrated our marketing dollars and efforts on that group. At that point in time, our tools were primitive by today standards we used an Excel spreadsheet to maintain the database and we communicated by direct mail through a newsletter that we published every other month. And, it worked. People would call us about projects and say, “I’ve been getting your newsletter for a few months now and I’d like you to do this work for us.”
Today the tools available are much more sophisticated. For most businesses email and social media platforms are the best ways to communicate with a list. I personally use MailChimp to maintain and email my list. I also utilize my social media platforms as a way of communicating with my list (However, remember you do not own these platforms. They are like rented space and can change the rules on you. Always, direct people to your email list).
Here are five benefits of regularly communicating with your list
- You build relationships and trust overtime.
- You concentrate your efforts on those who are interested in hearing from you
- You increase repeat business and sales
- You stay top of mind with your best clients
- You have a responsive audience that you can communicate with when you need to generate immediate results.
Now, don’t get bogged down and make this an administrative nightmare. If you have not been building a list, I am sure your information is in a lot of different programs and filing cabinets. Start by getting your easily accessible information and build from there. The key is to get started.
What is holding you back from starting and building a list?
Share your thoughts in the comments.