Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Business Chat - you need a mailing list

“Wow, these are fabulous! I love them!”
Don’t you love hearing this? Except when it’s followed by, “If only I had some money.” “I’ll buy these for my sister’s birthday – in 6 months.” “They’d make great Christmas gifts, where can I find you at Christmas?” or some other similar comments.

So what do you do when you hear this? The most common response is “gee thanks, here’s my business card.” In 6 months time when the customer is looking for Christmas gifts your business card is at the bottom of her purse and there is another artist in her face at a craft show or in her email inbox. You need to stay on people’s radar screens on a regular basis. 
It is not the customer’s job to stay in touch with you - it is your job to stay in touch with the customer.
So how do you stay in touch with your customers? Well you can write a blog, post on facebook, tweet, pin, or any of the other social media options. You can stand in a booth every weekend. You can open a shop either a brick and mortar or an online version. 
All of those things are excellent ways to grow your business, reinforce your brand, and bring in new customers.
But they all have one thing in common.
People can ignore them.
They can totally miss all of the effort you put in on these sites because they are simply absent.
There is one thing however that people don’t ignore. 
Their inbox. 
We all rely on email to keep in touch with friends, family, and to simply run our lives these days. If your customers are doing one thing – and one thing only – when they get online, you can bet it’s checking their email. 
And you have your customers email address because they gave it to you when they signed up for your mailing list. 
You need a mailing list. 
Your mailing list is gold. This is what will keep your business alive and growing. 

Hey, of course they can still ignore your emails. They can even unsubscribe. And that’s okay.
The most important thing is that they chose to be on your list in the first place.
The obvious place to get people for your list is to ask them. When you’re at a craft show and you hear the inevitable, “gee I love it but I have no money”, rather than getting discouraged (don't be reactive) ask them if they’d like to be on your mailing list (be proactive). Hand them a clipboard with a sign up sheet and get their name and email. Putting a book in your booth and expecting people to sign up is a waste of time, again you’re asking the customer to do your job. And the only ones who will sign up are 4 years old and don’t have money or email. 
You should also collect names and emails on your web site, blog, facebook page and any other social media you’re using. This is called an “opt-in”. 
When people sign up for your list, let them know what they’ll be receiving. “Would you like to sign up for my monthly newsletter? I send this out to keep my customers informed of shows I’ll be at and what’s new in my world. I promise, I never share my list or send junk mail”.
Or how about, “sign up for my monthly newsletter and get free shipping on your first order!”
Give them a compelling reason to sign up. 
What would make you sign up for someone’s mailing list? 
Coming up next in this series, now that you have a mailing list, what do you do with it? 
While it’s easy to send out email from any email service you should use an email management service. Never send out email with all the recipients listed as a “CC”, those names are private. Also sending out to a large group will have your email marked as spam by most mail filters. Email management services will integrate your web and blog sign up forms with your list for you, track the number of people who open your emails and the number of clicks your email generates. It will also allow people to unsubscribe should they decide to.For those starting out with a list of less than 2000 and send less than 12,000 emails a month, is my recommendation. It’s free. Free is good.

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