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"Exploit Your Very Own Gold Mine"

by Dave Balch, "The Stay-at-Home CEO"™

(c) 2000, A Few Good People, Inc.

I was in a store last night and they had a mailing list sign-up sheet on the counter.  It said “Give us your address so we can let you know about specials, sales, and news about our store.”  Good idea!  

Every business owner has a private gold mine just sitting there and very few seem to be taking advantage of it: their current customers.  We all know how expensive it is to get a new customer, but how many of us are getting all we can from the customers we already have?  This isn’t rocket science; you are providing a valuable product or service and your current customers already know and trust you.  Be in a position to make special offers to them to get the biggest bang for your advertising buck.   To do this, you must know who they are and how to reach them.  To do that, create a database that is just for customers.  Anyone who has ever bought anything from you or inquired should be in it.  START NOW, EVEN IF YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW YOU WILL USE IT; it takes time to accumulate the data and enter it.  Then, when you decide how to use it you’ll be ready to rock ‘n roll!

Collecting the data may be easy or it may not, depending on your situation.  The retail merchant I mentioned earlier only had walk-in traffic, so they had to ask for the information.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s actually better, because their customers are ASKING to be sold to!  If your business is mail order, you already have shipping information; be sure you have their mailing address as well.   If you want, you can even keep track of what they buy, so you can send them specialized mailings.  If you owned a pet store, for example, you could note whether they buy dog or cat products.  Then you could send specialized mailings for each type of pet. 

When you are collecting the data, however, be sure to get their e-mail address.  It costs nothing to ask for it, so ask for it!  Here’s why:  when you do decide how and when to contact your customers, you can send e-mail instead of an expensive mailer to everyone with an e-mail address.  You save money on labor, printing, envelopes, and postage.  Plus, it gets there in minutes instead of days.

What should you send to your list?  How about special offers to get people to come to your store during slow periods, or sales on slow-moving merchandise?  You can start a newsletter; it doesn’t have to be fancy, just keep your name in front of them and give them something useful such as recipes or “newsy” things pertaining to your products or services.  Give them value.  They’ll give you business.

Do not miss this incredible opportunity!  Start building your database now.  Trust me, you’ll figure out how to use it and when you do you can be very, very effective in very little time.  

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