It’s the start of a new year – how big is your checklist of marketing tasks to accomplish this year?
It’s easy to create a long list of things you would like to do. The problem is, once we create our list we often become overwhelmed and paralyzed. Or we get so wrapped up in the busy work we create for ourselves we never get to the part that brings in money.
In order to get your marketing efforts off to a solid start this year, I recommend picking one item that will produce a “win” for your business and get to work on that one item right away.
How do you find a quick win? If you are like most small business owners, you have two untapped or underutilized sources of business – 1) your existing customer base and 2) your list.
Your Customer Base
In the hunt for new sources of revenue, it is easy to forget that we should be marketing to our existing customers. These are the folks who already know, like, and trust you. If you’ve had success attracting people who fit your ideal customer profile, then you already have a base of customers who value what you bring to the table and are not “price shoppers”. Finding new ways to help them achieve their goals will not only help you grow your sales, but you’ll be doing work that you enjoy at the same time.
If you are not sure what to offer your existing customers then you are probably overdue for a conversation with them. Make that your “big win” goal for January – take out your calendar and make appointments with your top customers. Make the agenda of those meetings to listen to your customers’ goals and aspirations. Once they finished (and not before) spend some time thinking about how you can help them achieve those goals – either by offering one of your solutions or introducing them to someone in your network who can help them.
If you’ve been in business for any period of time, you have a list. We already talked about your list of existing customers, so now let’s talk about your contacts, leads, prospects, referral sources, etc.
While everyone has a list, many small business owner’s lists have one or more of the following challenges:
- Their list isn’t organized
- Their list is dormant
- Their list is not segmented
The Unorganized List
By unorganized, I mean that the contact information for the people on your list is not in one central place. It is scattered about in your email inbox, on notes jotted down on paper, and in the stack of cards on your desk. The biggest problem with an unorganized list is that it makes it difficult to follow up on a consistent basis. The tendency is to follow up with those contacts we consider to be “hot leads” – someone we think we can sell something to in the very near future. In B2B sales, many of the people we meet may not need our services right now, but chances are they will sometime in the future (or will run into someone else who needs what we sell). Without consistent follow up, sales and referrals often fall through the cracks. Consistent follow up without an organized list very difficult, if not impossible.
The Dormant List
Without regular follow up, your list becomes dormant and loses its value to your business. Once you lose top of mind status (or if you never had it), your messages become just more junk in the recipient’s inbox. If they forget who you are, what you do, or why they should care, they will see your messages as spam. Technically, they are not spam you say. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the perception of the recipient.
In addition to regular communication, keeping your list clean by removing those who are no longer interested is also essential to your marketing success.
The Unsegmented List
Segmenting is simply dividing your list into categories. Lists can be segmented in a variety of ways including geography, business size, industry, or interest.
The problem with an unsegmented list is that it forces you to talk to everyone on your list the same way. This reduces the effectiveness of your marketing messages because you generally end up talking about:
- What’s important to you rather than what is important to them. OR
- Things that are not relevant to the recipient. For example, have you ever received an offer to become a customer when you already are one? A personal example – I recently received an invitation to a free lunch meeting being held 1,000 miles away. With a segmented list, the company that invited me could have excluded me from the invitation or, realizing it didn’t make sense for me to attend, offer to send me the information being shared at the lunch.
Use the information in your list to create segments that allow you to communicate in a way that is relevant to the recipients of your marketing messages.
Using Your List to Get a Win
A word of caution, it is easy to get bogged down trying to “perfect” your list before you start doing anything. Don’t fall in this trap!
The theme of this post is how to get a quick win. The best way to get a quick win with your list is to start with a marketing objective in mind. Creating a spreadsheet or database to organize your contacts is not a marketing objective. Following up with the 10 people you met at yesterday’s networking event is – the spreadsheet or database is a tool to help you meet that objective. In order to get the quick win, get those 10 people on your list and contact them today. During your follow up, make notes about those things that will help you continue to follow up in a way that is relevant to them. When you get back to your office, add those notes to your list, so you will be able to create segments for future messages.
If you have a list, but it is at risk of becoming dormant, score your quick win by reaching out and determining if the contacts on your list still have an interest in what you do. A simple email or phone call to ask “Are you still interested in tax preparation services?” or “Are you still interested in [insert your service]?” will let you know who you should follow up with and who you should remove from your list.
If you have a list that can use segmenting, don’t start by trying to think of all of the segments you could have. Score your win by coming up with an offer or marketing message you want to send and then determine how to segment your list to make that offer as relevant as possible. For example, if you want to offer an in person seminar, can you identify the people on your list who are within a reasonable travelling distance? Can you quickly send a “for customers” only offer? If you have to collect data to update your list, first send the messages you can and then set goals for collecting and sending messages as you go. For example, set a goal of sending out 10 new messages every week rather than trying to update your complete list before sending out the first message.
I hope that gives you some ideas for scoring some quick marketing wins in 2014. If you have any questions or tips you would like to share, leave a comment below or drop us a line.
Bill Brelsford Small Business Marketing Consultant