The importance of building a contact database – 6 Tips

Build a contact databaseWe have always taken the view that:

You are an EXPERT in your field… ….Make sure your customers and prospects know it…and remember it!

The majority of our clients recognised the issue, they simply didn’t keep in touch with the people they know, allowing potential future business to slip through the net. Yet all too often they felt there was a major stumbling block:

We don’t have a target list!

Actually, when we discussed the problem with them, we inevitably found a solution. Nevertheless, there is no question that having a significant, qualified database of customers and prospects – people for whom your products/services can deliver real benefit – is immensely valuable as a tool for your strategic marketing. It is never too soon to start building your own database, and it is amazing how, with a little focus, you can build a substantial list quickly and with only modest effort. Here are 6 tips to get you going:

1. Quality is more important than quantity

Many people give up before they start because they believe that any worthwhile list must contain 1000s of records. This is not true. We have examples of clients using well qualified lists of less than 100 contacts to get useful results. Sure, we would ideally suggest that 500 contacts is a fair starting point but actually, quality is more important than quantity. Keeping in touch with 50-100 contacts you have worked with before can produce more opportunities than a list of 1000 poorly qualified contacts you don’t really know.

2. Keep it simple

If you already use Outlook to manage your emails and contacts, use it to build your database. You can flag contacts into categories so you know who is who. It is possible to use build in tools to export your data when required but check out http://www.codetwo.com/freeware/outlook-export/. This is a free Outlook plug-in that makes exporting your contacts a doddle. If you don’t use Outlook (or something similar), simply create an Excel spreadsheet. If all you do is record name and email address, this is enough. For something a bit more, check out this template:

Marketing Database Template (Excel Spreadsheet)

There is no doubt that more info does give you more options for targeting or segmenting your list  – but a simple list that you use is better than a complex list you don’t!

3. Know your target market

Referring to 1. above, you should be aiming for a quality list. To do this you need to know what sort of contacts you are looking to add to your list. Be clear in your own mind who can really benefit from what you do. Don’t forget to think laterally. You may have synergy with another businesses where you are both interested in the same target sector, or a contact you have may not be a potential client but may be a great source of referrals.

4. Be disciplined – Log everyone

Get into the habit of adding every (relevant) contact you make. Don’t just leave that business card in your pocket, add them to your database. Once you have done this, you can even dispose of the card – job well done.

5. Set goals

Don’t expect your list to build itself. If you regularly attend networking meetings or other business events, make a point of talking to at least 2 or 3 new people each time. If you only ever see the same people, maybe you should think about trying some other events. If you attend a network meeting once a week, 3 new contacts each time could mean over 150 new contacts a year. Maybe not a huge number in itself but a great platform to build a sustained process of marketing communication for your bsuiness – and a great deal more than most people do! Social media – including industry forums – can be a great way of building a target audience more quickly. It won’t have the impact of people you have met and spoken to but you can find groups of people with a common interest which can fit with what you offer.

6. Use your contact database

Your database will mean nothing if you don’t use it. It will just go out of date. Have a plan to keep in touch with people and stick to it. Email newsletters can work really well for this. Give me a call if you want to know more    

EU Cookie Law 12 months on

cookie_monsterJust over 12 months ago, the a new law was introduced forcing website owners to be more open about their use of cookies. 12 months on from the laws introduction, what has been the real world effect for website owners? An interesting article by econsultancy looks at examples of how sites have implemented the law, and it seems that the law is being applied sensibly! Read the full blog post here: 17 useful examples of EU Cookie Law compliance  

Marketing grants for North West manufacturers

strategy Two questions we regularly ask SME businesses:

  1. What is your marketing strategy?
  2. What is your marketing budget?

Normally the response is a wry smile or, at best:

“Well, it’s in my head but I’ve never got around to writing it down.”

As we say regularly: marketing is a process, not an event. As a development of this idea, marketing should also be seen as an investment, not a cost. Investing without a clear plan of what you expect to achieve is no better than a shot in the dark; yet for many businesses there never seems to be the time to plan a meaningful strategy and then make sure it is properly implemented in a sustained and managed way. This can make marketing fractured and often, ineffective and frustrating. To help you address this dilemma, the Manufacturing Advisory Service in the North West is offering grant funding for manufacturers wishing to develop and implement a new marketing strategy BSA has built successful long term relationships with many manufacturers based on our commitment to work with clients to develop, plan and implement an effective marketing approach. We don’t just help you plan, we help make sure things happen in a structured, controlled and sustainable way. BSA can help you develop your marketing and secure support from MAS with grants of up to £3000 (on a 50:50 matched funding basis) for manufacturers who wish to really make marketing help to drive their business forward. Call to find out more and for a no-obligation chat.

Off-the-shelf websites – The pros and cons

themesWe would always advocate that a little investment in a professionally designed & built website will pay dividends as part of an ongoing joined-up marketing strategy. However, there are times when the addition of design costs on top of the actual website build can push the budget just a little too far. In these circumstances WordPress plus a professionally designed template can be an excellent solution. With this in mind, we thought it worth bringing the website Theme Forest to your attention. The site is dedicated to WordPress and has some excellent design themes available for under £5! With one of these themes and a little configuration it is possible to have a professional looking website quickly and very cost effectively. Theme (Template) based websites are however not perfect, and I would just like to finish with a few Pros & Cons of taking this approach:

Pros

  • Very inexpensive way of getting a professionally designed website
  • Little or no technical knowledge is required to configure the site
  • An enormous range of designs is available, often with added functionality
  • WordPress themes all benefit from the powerful WordPress admin back-end

Cons

  • It is normally easy to add your logo etc but 100% control can involve more complex coding if you have a very strict brand identity you may lose the cost benefit of the template in extra development fees.
  • Not all standard WordPress plugins will work with all templates.
  • You do not have exclusivity on low-cost templates so there is the risk that someone else might use it too. In our experience, we have never seen this problem arise in the real world – there are just so many template options out there!

On a general note focussing too much on keeping the costs to an absolute minimum can mean you risk forgetting that to be effective, a website needs to be part of a joined-up marketing plan (This post expands on the issue!). There is no doubt that when used as part of a joined-up plan, theme based sites can be an effective route to a new website. But remember they are a tool, not a solution. Turning a basic theme into an effective website will take time and effort (especially on the content) to ensure that the finished site effectively communicates your marketing proposition.  

Video web content need not cost the earth.

There is no doubt, video is becoming a must-have medium for marketing communication in the digital age. Not only is video a great, engaging way to get your message across, with the prevalence of video in Google’s listings, it also has real search benefits. Speaking to clients, 2 common comments we get are:

  1. Producing my own videos is expensive, and not really in my budget
  2. I have nothing to make a video about

With a bit of lateral thinking, there are ways that you may be able to produce great video-based promotional content without having to start from scratch. Often, companies work with suppliers who are already producing videos, and who are happy for to you to re-use these in your own marketing. In a recent project, BSA worked family safari specialists, Aardvark Safaris. Aardvark discovered that most of the safari camps they use in their itineraries already produce promotional videos, and felt these would be of great interest to their customers and great value to their own marketing. BSA were able to edit the content to include Aardvark’s own branding at the start and end of each video ready to be embedded on the Aardvark website. In the meantime, we were able to create a dedicated, branded YouTube channel promoting Aardvark Safaris and the camps that they use. All without the need to produce the original video content. Here is an example of this content: [youtube]_OH2rLYFHcg[/youtube]   If you would like to look at the options for your own business, give us a call