By: Chris Barr (Originally composed as a letter)
Ask yourself a question: How many additional sales you could generate if your business had its own “in-house” customer mailing list?
For example, if you own a pizza shop, how valuable would it be to send an email or text message to your customers on a Friday afternoon saying, “Buy One, Get One Free – Tonight Only!” You’d probably double or triple your normal sales.
If you are like most professionals, you work incredibly hard to generate sales and grow your business, but the question is, “…are you taking full advantage of your current customer list?” Long story short, if you don’t know how to create a mailing list and use it, you may be doing yourself a disservice.
Many companies already have a database of their current customers in some form. If you have a POS system that tracks customer addresses and emails, then you are one-step ahead. Or, you may just use a simple spreadsheet with your customer information…whatever the format, you can use this as a starting point.
For small business that do not have any sort of mailing list, we need to start from scratch. Don’t worry. It’s super-easy to build your own mailing list, and I will show you how.
Step 1: How to Start Your Mailing List
The first step is to choose a database to store your customer information. You can simply use an Excel spreadsheet, invest in a POS system, or you can use a 100% Free online database tool such as the ever-popular Zoho (www.zoho.com). At the very least use some form of digital format (even a Word .doc if you must).
Once you have chosen the database format that you wish to use, you must decide what customer information you want to collect. Keep in mind, the longer the sign up form, the less likely customers will be to fill it out. Here’s what I recommend for starters:
Step 2: How to Get Customers to Sign Up
Ok you know where you are going to store your customer information, now how do you start building your list? There are 2 easy ways to do this right off the bat…
1. Distributing Color Flyers
Start by designing a great flyer that will grab the attention of all your potential customers. Use full color flyers to stand out and create a killer offer or “freebie” to get the best response. The company name should be clear, and your business hours, address, and website information should also be included.
Capture the readers information by planning a special event, advertising a sale, or adding coupons on the flyer. For example, “Join Our Mailing List at www.YourBusiness.com, Receive a Free Large Pizza!” It’s that easy to start building a mailing list.
If you do not have a website yet, you may want to add a small contact form area to the flyer. Be sure the flyer says, “Fill Out and Return this Form for a Free Pizza”. Collect these forms and constantly add them to your database.
The great thing about flyer printing is that you can design your flyers to express exactly what it is you want your customer to do.
Remember: Your flyer should have one primary goal: discounting your goods or services in exchange for their permission to be contacted with future offers.
2. Direct Mailing Brochures, Flyers, or Postcards
Direct mail is the ultimate way to reach new customers and guarantee that someone will handle your advertisement. When you mail a brochure or direct mail piece, you virtually “force” the customer to handle your advertisement whether they call you immediately, save the ad for later, or discard the piece all together. Either way, you will get in front of more eyeballs and raise awareness about your brand and services.
Mail your advertisements directly to customers within your service area, or perhaps within a 3-mile radius of your business location. This will ensure the best response rates and produce the best ROI.
Your direct mail piece must be focused and concise. Ask yourself, “What action do I want my customer to take after reading this advertisement?” In this case, you want them to sign up online at your website, or by filling out a form on the brochure and sending it back to you.
Remember: Offer the customer an incentive to sign up …and make it too good to refuse.
Final Thought: There are thousands of theories out there about how to increase sales and grow your business. However, there are only THREE 100% Guaranteed Ways to Grow Your Business.
1. Increase Your Number of Total Customers
2. Increase the Average Sale Amount
3. Increase the Purchase Frequency with Your Existing Customers