What’s the Best Way To Build My Customer List?
I wondered how long it would take after the new year started to be asked the question I get asked most often–and for which my advice is most often ignored. Answer: One day. I was asked today.
In fact, I’m writing this article so I can point people here when they ask me everyday for the next 363 days. The question: “What’s the best way to build my customer list?”
There are hundreds of ways you can build your list if you don’t need customers today…and very few ways that work if you do (pay per click may be one of them). The true, unsexy, answer is you must build your list a little everyday.
Sort of like the answer to the this question: “When is the best time to plant a shade tree?” Answer: 20 years ago. Next best answer: Today.
But I get the need for an answer that’s less esoteric, so here are my top 5 ways to build your customer list–or as I like to call it, your customer database.
- Add more web forms to your website. You can’t sell from an empty cart. Offer awesome problem-solving information that showcases your ability to go deeper into their problem than anyone else. When they’re ready to buy, you’ll be the only one on their short list. (Yep, building your list corresponds with having a compelling, sharable website. )
- Publish an e-newsletter with sharable content and give readers a share button. Include lots of links back to offers on your landing pages (see #1).
- Join a LinkedIn or Facebook group where your customer hangs out. Answer questions and become known as the go-to resource. Then post a free guide on a website landing page and capture those who fill out a form to request it. (See #1)
- Commit to attending at least 1 networking luncheon a month to meet as many new people as you can to collect their business cards. Send them a “nice to meet you” email and ask them how you can be a resource for them to gain new business. Tell them how you can be a resource for their connections. Hardly anyone ever follows up after meetings like these, so just by doing this, you’ll be remembered as the one who took the first step in starting a networking relationship. Add them to your e-newsletter list. (Yes, I know, no opt-in/no permission blah, blah, blah. This is human interaction. If they want off your list, take them off. If you’re not comfortable with this idea, pick another one.)
- Partner with a non-competiing business with a sizeable list of the same kinds of customers you want. Work out a cross promotion together. (The key to this one working is that your marketing partner must have a list of as many or more active customers matching your customer profile.)
I could go on, but most people who ask rarely do one thing on this list. It’s too hard, like dieting and exercising. But unlike developing other good habits, building your customer list is hard at first and much easier once it’s built. That’s when the magic really happens, like the first time you get an unsolicited inquiry because you marketed yourself to the right person at the right time in the right way. Or someone on your list sends you a referral who comes “pre-educated” because they checked out your website and downloaded everything you had (see #1) because they thought you were someone who might be able to solve their problem.