Most women entrepreneurs I work with recognize the value of having a list of some kind – a database of contacts, leads, strategic partners and customers. For most business owners, the list is their most valuable asset. In fact, Andrew Carnegie said that you could take away his riches, take away his companies and all of his resources…but if you leave behind his customer lists, he would have everything back “in short order.” So savvy entrepreneurs invest in building their list and creating a loyal customer base. The biggest challenge? Growing that mailing list without coming across as obnoxious.
As Christian women, we often shy away from anything that appears too “sales-y” or marketing-driven. We like to develop meaningful connections and get to know people rather than collecting names on a list. In fact, the most common objection I hear from my clients about email marketing is, “But I don’t want to spam people!” I want to share with you the belief that it is possible build a rock-solid list of your most loyal fans in a way that is authentic, wise and gracious.
The following are some simple ways to gradually build your list with people who want to hear from you. These suggestions are often overlooked by business owners. They can lead to referrals, income and rewarding partnerships. Most of them you can implement yourself—and some of them are free.
- Put a call to action on your business card. Don’t just give people your contact information, give them a reason to visit your website and opt-in to your list. This may be an invitation to download a free report or an audio recording.
- Create a custom email signature that invites people to connect with you on social media and visit your website for that free offer or newsletter. Keep it short and use your custom signature in all of your email communications – you never know who may be in need of your services. I noticed the other day that my daughter’s dance instructor opted-in to my list. Never in a million years would I have mentioned my business to her, but because I emailed her about my daughter, she learned of my work and wants to know more.
- Record a custom greeting on your outgoing voice mail. Make it short but mention your free offer and invite the caller to visit your website. For example: “Thanks for calling Yummy Cupcakery. We’re sorry we missed your call. Please leave your name and number and we’ll return the call as soon as possible. And, by the way, be sure to visit us at www.yummycupcakery.com and sign up to receive the recipe of the month.”
- Put a call to action in your bio. If you speak at live workshops or seminars, or if you submit articles to blogs and article directories, include a call to action in your bio or Author Resource Box. Give the reader or listener a compelling reason to hop on over to your website and sign up on your list.
- Leverage your “thank you” receipts. When people purchase something, they are likely to open and read a receipt either online or in person. Many times there is an option to customize this thank-you email or receipt and include an invitation for the customer or client to visit your website for your free offer. It’s important to recognize that just because someone makes a purchase from you does not mean that she wants to receive your email communication—you need to invite her to opt-in to your list at the time of the purchase when she is excited about your product or service.
- Ask for referrals. The best way to reach people who may want to work with you or buy from you is to start with your existing loyal fans. Create a system to ask for referrals from current clients and customers. This may mean making it easy for them to forward your newsletter or asking them for the name of someone they recommend for your services. For information on how to do this authentically, read The Referral of a Lifetime by Tim Templeton.
- Advertising. An easy and inexpensive way to grow your mailing list is to place free online classified ads (like Craig’s List) or pay-per-click ads (like Facebook ads or Google AdWords). Rather than selling a product with your ad, drive visitors to your website for your free offer so they opt-in to your list. Be sure to offer something of value that is interesting and relevant to your ideal clients.
Not all of these strategies will apply to every business, but you should be able to implement a few of them quickly and easily. And I think you’ll find they are not uncomfortable or obnoxious. In fact, when you build your list respectfully, you create a faithful base of customers who are eager to hear from you.
Theresa Ceniccola is The Christian Mompreneur—a Mentor to Moms Who are Running a Business that Supports Faith and Family. She empowers entrepreneurial moms to build profitable businesses with wisdom and grace through the Christian Mompreneur Mastermind program and her professional Marketing services, which include copywriting, marketing and strategy consulting and private coaching. The Christian Mompreneur monthly ezine offers inspiration and support for the faith-filled business journey. If you are ready to go the distance in your business while remaining true to your values, sign up for a F.R.E.E. subscription at www.theresaceniccola.com.