Build private Yellow Pages of past, present and future clients
With all the hubbub about social media, there is very little comment concerning simple, old-fashioned database marketing.
I’ll leave all the problems social media poses as a reliable communication channel to another column and this time concentrate on what I think is the most under-utilised, underdeveloped of business assets: a marketing database.
It makes infinite business sense to employ more database marketing in today’s environment. There is more revenue waiting from existing customers.
However, if you think becoming successful at database marketing is easy, whether via email, print, phone or sms, you are wrong.
The larger your business is – the more locations you have – makes it even more difficult.
Why? Because you have to rely on your staff.
You can have the most sophisticated of customer relationship management systems or the cleverest marketing and communication plans. But if you don’t have the data, you can’t do a thing.
From Whitcoulls to Noel Lemmings, the Warehouse to Pak'nSave, Farmers to Stevens, Bunnings to Harvey Normans, no one is asking or consistently asking if I’d like to join their database.
Or worse, they leave it to Flybys – so they can buy the list of their customers back if they want to market to them.
I would like to give you my Mayo-Smith Seven Step Plan to ensure you are success in building your private Yellow Pages of past, present and future clients filling your database coffers.
MS Step One: Get company-wide buy-in
This might appear self-evident, but there is no point asking staff to collect email addresses and data if your senior management don’t believe in the value.
You need the active co-operation of operations, sales, marketing and (especially) IT to make the whole system of data gathering, processing and communicating work.
This includes having a social media strategy.
MS Step Two: Get frontline staff to start collecting
If you’re a national organisation, visit each location to discuss the initiative. Give them a presentation that covers:
1. The importance of accurate customer data and email addresses to you, the company as a whole and to them personally.
2. What you are going to do with the information and how this benefits that particular branch. Have a slide explaining the importance of email. Address concern up front and train staff to make these four points clear to customers:
a. You don't rent or sell information.
b. The data is purely for the company’s use.
c. The customer receives a preview of specials (ie, there is value for them) or communications about business you’re doing together (like shipment in – come and get it).
d. Communications are only periodic (ie, you will not get a lot of emails from us).
MS Step Three: Make it easy and immediate
Better yet, it would be superb to have a (locked down) PC or tablet on site.
Staff can direct customers to fill in their contact details AND immediately join your company’s social media site.
This will pay for itself by saving the administration of data input and the problem of customers who say they will do it online later, but don’t.
MS Step Four: Give feedback and foster competition
Follow up after each visit with phone calls to check on progress, remind staff of the initiative and give feedback on the results.
Run a contest each month. For example, send out a bar chart showing the percentage of customer details collected from people who have bought products.
Have one bar for each location and one for the company as a whole. This will generate competition between locations to gather more data.
At meetings, talk about the project and share success stories.
MS Step Five: Review and address practical problems
Once front-line staff start collecting customer information some practical problems could aise, such as incorrect email addresses.
Here are two good suggestions:
# Teach staff to recognise common email address endings like xtra.co.nz instead of .xtra.com.
# Have separate lines or boxes for each letter to help legibility and data veracity.
MS Step Six: Use incentives to rekindle enthusiasm
After the initial excitement ebbs, your data acquisition could start to level off. So ramp up efforts by introducing an incentive plan or prize draw.
One of my clients actually found a star chart worked best for competition between staff.
MS Step Seven: Don't just rely on front-line staff
Use your website, advertisements, flyers, mail drops, social media sites. I have a newsletter sign-up on my Facebook Fan Page.
Finally, don’t put this in the too hard basket or think you needn’t bother because you have FlyBys.
If used cleverly, your computer and online databases of customers and prospective customers can work hard for you.
Used well, they will bring in new sales cheaply, can be used to improve value add or as a potential recruitment source for new staff, or as focus groups through online surveys.
So don’t neglect your most valuable business asset: your company database.
# Debbie's new book, Conquer Your Email Overload, can be bought at any bookstore or from Debbie at the address below.
Debbie Mayo-Smith works with businesses that want more effective management and staff. www.debbiespeaks.co.nz
# If you would like to WIN a copy of the book, email Debbie at email@example.com with the tip you like the best.
It will be drawn on Friday.