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The Hidden Gold Mine Within Your Business

21st Dec 2014

I spent years studying copy writing for small business and the importance of creating a customer list, but none of it had prepared me for the astonishing results that building and working my customer list would bring. My first attempt at building my list drove our Christmas sales by 400 percent within 3 years and 15 years later was responsible for generating an extra half a million pounds worth of sales for my small business.

Is this something that may grab your attention? What is really interesting is, that for all the success I had with my list, I failed to fully utilise it during other times of the year and it is an opportunity I see being missed by small businesses all over the country, all the time. You must not ignore the power of your list.

The truth of the matter is that with everything you have going on during your day, finding time to create your customer database and to work it, is without any doubt a challenge. If you feel your business is struggling, is capable of doing a little bit more or you are just hungry to drive sales, then you must start by analysing your customer list and mining it for all the gold it contains!

I'm still amazed how many businesses don't even create a customer list. With all the basic technology at our finger tips these days there really is no excuse. Using off the shelf software allows us to create lists that contain all sorts of information so that when we decide to run a promotion, not only can we run a campaign with our list, but we can actually target our promotion only at customers with an interest in a particular product or service we are promoting. Wow.

The rules for database marketing are quite simple. First, collect your customers details. Second, communicate with your list. Third, measure the results of your campaigns and find out what works and what doesn't work. Finally, work your list on a regular basis.

I'm obviously making this sound easy, which it naturally isn't. Never forget, if anything in business was easy, we'd all be doing it. First of all there are data protection laws to consider. You will be able to research these on line to make sure your small business complies with the law.

Once you understand the legalities, you can begin creating your list. You need to think about how you can use your list and what information you may wish to gather. Getting back to my Christmas promotion that generated over half a million pounds worth of sales over 15 years, all we did was capture our customers name and address and the following Christmas we would write to them to say how delighted we were to have supplied them last Christmas and would they consider using us again. Quite simple, but so effective.

Fast forward fifteen years and I now capture name, postal address, email address, mobile or cell number and date of birth (day and month only). I also capture information for research purposes such as age range of our customers and buying habits. You must decide what information to collect that is relevant to your businesses customers.

Once you start gathering information you must look to store it electronically with some database software such as Microsoft Access  or Excel. As well as storing this information I look to record, wherever possible, the types of promotions customers respond to. For example, a shoe shop could send a special offer voucher to its list for wellington boots that carries a customer code on it. Any customer that responds to it hands in their voucher and using the unique customer code from the voucher, you are able to record the promotion that customer responded to. Any future promotions could be filtered and sent out only to those who have bought wellington boots before.

The next stage is the really hard part. I started this post by saying I'd spent years studying copy writing and I do feel it paid benefits. From the information I collect, i'm provided with 3 ways of communication, all of which require a different approach. I can write to them, email them or send a message to their cell phones. It's vital that you get your communication right, you must learn to write great copy. Its all about creating 'killer copy' and delivering it on a consistent basis.

As a small business, your customers will look forward to receiving information from you, just so long as you are creating great content for them. I also recommend that you don't over do it. If you overload them with information they will more than likely get sick and unsubscribe from your list. You must test and measure your results to find out what works for your business, get a good gut feeling for what is happening with your promotions and work it to the max.

Once you've created your list and you are creating exciting content, all that remains is to keep working your list. You should teach yourself to constantly keep your list updated and refreshed. Don't forget as the years go on and you acquire new customers you will need to collect and add their details to your list. Never stop working on your list.

If you haven't all ready signed up to my annual Small Business Club and would like to learn about all the above in a more in depth way then why not sign up today. January will see the release of my latest Small Business Marketing Club Video that is all about building your list. For more details on my small business marketing club, Click Here. Don't forget to let me know about your success stories too, I want to here the innovative ways in which you create and communicate with your lists!

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