Saturday, March 28, 2009

Staying in touch with your customers

Several months ago, I joined Linked-In. Its a pretty good tool for connecting with people if you are job hunting, or looking for someone at a particular company. My direct linked in network has grown to over 4,000,000 people over the past few months!

Last month, we talked about starting a newsletter and a direct marketing campaign for our products and services. Great idea! We have lots of customers and people we network with!

Ha! I discovered, after some painful research, that our opt in list of people that we can contact directly is really quite small.

So I set out to see if we could purchase a contact list. I found a good company that had great referrals on their website and I discovered I could get a targeted list for just over $229. The list was several thousand names. Seemed like a pretty good start!

Working on the list, I pared it down to my target start area, eliminated duplicate companies, and discovered my list had dropped to 671 names. But 8% of the mailing addresses bounced at the post office (and that, it turns out, is MUCH better than the 20% bounce rate others have experienced). So, when all is said and done, $0.47 a contact is what I paid. At a less than 1% response rate, this is not a great way to get leads!

There must be a better way.

I have heard alot of buzz about this thing called attraction marketing ... but the secret to its success seems elusive. While my network of contacts has grown substantially over the past few months, my network of customers - those that pay the bills - has not! In fact, in this economy, its shrinking at a steady rate.

Remember Kevin Costner’s character in “Field of Dreams”? He based his plans on whispers from the corn fields … “If you build it, they will come”. And in the movie, they actually did come. The real world takes a lot more work.

Start by listing everyone that you know. You’ll be amazed at the size of the list you come up with. According to Jeffrey Gitomer, all things being equal, people prefer to do business with people they know - their friends. So listing the people you already know is a great place to start building your network.

Now that you have a start, don’t be afraid to ask if these contacts know anybody else who should be on your list. Assuming you’re pleasant and not too pushy, they’ll be glad to help you. Remember, its not who you know that makes you successful - its who knows you!

Get out from behind that computer and get some face time! A great way to build your pipeline is to get out and meet new people. Look for relevant events or trade shows in your area where you can network and collect business cards.

Don’t forget to network with other local business owners as well. Strategic partnerships are built by businesses seeking similar customers, but for completely different, non-competitive products or services.

Next, do some research. Head to the local library and check out recent issues of trade journals relating to your business. You’ll find articles about people who buy what you have to offer. Check the daily newspapers, particularly in the business section.

Keep building your list and touching base with your contacts. Remember that it takes between 5 and 8 touches to a prospect before they may decide to buy from you!

Best Success! And happy Networking!


PS: If you are looking for great on-line tools to help you stay in touch, try the links below:

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