Evolutionary Business Design

The best ways to grow your customer database without spending a fortune

Size. Isn’t. Everything. When it comes to a customer database, having thousands of thousands of people on a list doesn’t mean anything unless you have a relationship with them.

So don’t go getting all scammy and spammy with the latest tricks to build a list of people who are not now, or never will be, your ideal customer. You’ll find no joy there.

A small intimate responsive database can be a beautiful thing and it’s really enjoyable to serve those people by offering them interesting relevant information, intriguing offers and genuinely helpful content that they can’t wait to receive. Develop a “No Junk Mail” policy when you contact your database or they will bin you for wasting their time.

Here’s how to grow your list without resorting to sneaky underhanded tactics.

You cannot just put someone on your list because they gave you their business card – you’ll need to ask permission. But better than that, have a real conversation with the person and offer to send them something helpful – and NO that is not your brochure or catalogue unless they have specifically asked for it. It might be a newspaper clipping or a referral to your dentist or a great website you discovered. It can be anything as long as it is helpful.

If you were clever you’d be building a bank of your own useful information to share.

Here are a few favourite places and ways to find the best people to add to your database:

  • Networking events and industry groups – local chambers of commerce are a good place to start.
  • Business networking groups – go regularly and make friends. Get to know these people, they are your best referral sources and there are things you can help them with too.
  • Meetup Groups cost next to nothing – choose carefully before you commit the time but you will definitely meet people – even if it’s a walking group.
  • Attend workshops and chat to the people you meet there. There are plenty of low-cost- to- no-cost business seminars out there – and you’ll learn a thing or two as well!
  • Online in social media groups – find groups with similar interests to yours and start contributing. But don’t sell unless the rules of the group say you can – it’s SOCIAL – no-one likes a pushy person who is always selling.
  • On holidays, at the shops, in elevators, at the beach – start talking to people – you’ll be so surprised at the connections you can make.
  • Have a lead capture form on your website – offer something they consider valuable and highly desirable in exchange for their contact information. It might cost you nothing.
  • Do direct response marketing – everything you put out needs a call to action to get the person to take some action i.e. contact you for that highly desirable “thing” – not the super big things, just a little taste test. Why do you think supermarkets offer free samples of something yummy in the aisles?
  • As people to share your content, your business cards, your highly desirable offer, let it go naturally viral. If you are in the women’s market you have inbuilt viral marketers. They will naturally tell friends when they find something of value.
  • Get over your nerves and learn to speak in public – give talks and presentations. When people see you as an expert they’ll give you their contact details to get more of what you have.

We’ve just scratched the surface.

You’re only limited by your imagination. Get together with a group of other business owners and brainstorm this – there are hundreds more answers. Then put the strategies into action and hold each other accountable to getting results.

Best of luck. Let us know how you go. And if you have a unique way of adding genuinely interested people to your database, we’d love to hear it.

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