During 30 years in business and consulting with other business owners, I've found the three most cost-effective sources of business are always the same - regardless of the type of business. They are:
1. Existing customers
3. The business's own "house mailing list".
These sources may not produce your largest block of business. However, they always produce your most profitable block of business. That's because there is little or no advertising expense involved in getting business from these sources.
Every business should have programs operating to promote repeat business from existing customers. Every business should also have systems in place to produce referrals from existing customers, prospects and contacts. However, the volume of business you can generate from these two sources is limited by the number of customers you have and contacts you know. Plus, you have very little control over the flow of business generated by these sources.
By comparison, the volume of business you can develop from you own house mailing list is predictable. You can also control the flow of business from this source.
What Is a House Mailing List?
Let's start by defining "house mailing list"? A "house mailing list" is any list owned by a business and compiled as a result of inquiry or buyer action. Your customer list is a house list. However, we won't talk about your customer list in this article. Instead, we'll talk about your prospect list. For this article we'll define house mailing list as "the stored database of contact information for prospects who have expressed an interest in your product, service or business opportunity but have not yet done business with you".
Contact information in this database should include some or all of the following:
- Person's name
- Company name (if applicable)
- Postal address
- Email address
- Telephone number
- Fax number
If you don't save this contact information from every inquiry you receive, begin saving it now. You'll pick up a lot of very profitable business in the future by using it to make future offers to these prospects. Let me use my own business to illustrate the value of saving this information.
I maintain a house mailing list of potential clients and customers for my consulting and business publications business. The list includes contact information for everybody who at sometime requested information about my services or publications.
Every 60 to 90 days I contact everybody on this list with a special offer related to their original inquiry. About 50% of my profit every month comes from business generated by these special offers made to prospects on my house list.
Use Low-Cost Methods of Communication
Here's the best part. The cost of contacting prospects on my house list is very low... lower than any of my other advertising. I keep the cost low by using two very inexpensive methods of communication - email and postcards.
I use email whenever I have the prospect's email address. The cost for email is close to zero. I use postcards when I don't have the prospect's email address. The cost of preparing and mailing a postcard by First Class Mail is only about 24 cents in the US (20 cents postage and about 4 cents materials and preparation). Postcards provide another benefit in addition to the low cost. Nearly 100% of the recipients will read my message because it's delivered "already opened" on a postcard.
If you don't already have your own house mailing list, start building it today. Keep expenses low by using email and postcards to communicate with prospects on your list. You'll soon discover that a house list is a very cost-effective marketing resource that adds substantial profits to your business.
Copyright 1998 Bob Leduc