Share this post!There’s a very simple thing any business can do to increase their reach into the right audiences but they toss the assets that would enable them to do it into the garbage. In this day of electronic communication, it’s ludicrous that anyone would mismanage these assets but I still run into companies doing it.
What asset am I talking about? I’m talking about the identities of everyone you come in contact with as you do business.
I was recently consulting a company that provides an expensive but vital service. Because the service is pricey, many people may be interested but don’t financially qualify. So this company has people calling and emailing them all the time but many of these sales cycles don’t go through. After these transactions, all these leads were put in envelopes and stashed in boxes that were shoved in a corner. I spent some time convincing them that every time a person calls or emails, that identity must be carefully retained in a form that makes it easy to contact them in the future. A person who does not qualify now may qualify in a year or two. Or they may run into someone who does qualify and if you have been contacting them regularly – say with an emailed newsletter or helpful information – they will remember you and mention you to other people.
Awhile back, I used to take my car to a little out-of-the-way garage. The guys who worked there were like my uncles. Completely reliable, excellent mechanics. One day I noticed their records of their past sales. They were credit card slips spilling out of boxes in the back room. I’ve also seen this kind of record keeping in more sophisticated businesses – vital information on customers and the results of their service kept stored in boxes in the garage.
The identities of the people who have purchased from you or indicated that they were interested in your products or services are invaluable assets. They should be collected and maintained in some kind of useable form – database, spreadsheet – even sorted into file folders is better than nothing. You’d eventually have to get them into a form that enables them to be emailed, phoned or mailed to but at least that is a start at preserving them.
Once you have collected and preserved these assets, you should next work out ways to communicate with them regularly. If you’re just starting out, you don’t have to get fancy. And you don’t have to use every outreach effort to push your product hard. The primary thing is to keep yourself alive in their minds.
Do you sell patio furniture? Look for the most delicious grilling recipes you can find and send them along to your former or potential customers one month. Next month, send them tips on how to keep gnats and mosquitoes away while they are enjoying the backyard. Now, if you’re sending a postcard or an email, you can tuck a special offer or a discount in the margins. This business could really pour the coals on in the spring, sending out splashy advertising on all their new shipments or special pre-summer sales events. Because they have been helpful and interesting all year round, their former or potential customers are more likely to have a favorable impression of the company and will be more likely to give that pre-summer sales event some thought.
You can operate in a similar manner in the online and social media worlds. Give people a good reason to be interested in you and then collect those identities. On Facebook, this means getting people to “like” your page. On your website, it means offering something valuable that just requires providing an email address to receive. You don’t even have to think about whether or not you should contact them later – just do it! You must also be sure to give them an easy way to unsubscribe or opt out of your messages so you can keep your list clean.
So why do people ignore this valuable asset? Simply because they didn’t know that these identities could be turned into future sales. Some companies rely on word of mouth or referrals from other businesses but they are losing all the potential of these people who have already expressed an interest or who purchased from them in the past. You don’t have to put a lot of money into each name but keep the relationship alive by being helpful and interesting.
Above all, just be sure you are collecting and preserving the identities of everyone who contacts you with an interest in your product or service, along with at least one method of reaching them. If it takes you a little while to work out what to do with them, you will have collected a resource pool of identities to work with when you’re ready.
And of course, if you need to know what to do with them, we certainly know how to help you with that. Call us any time for our expert advice.