If you have been in business for more than a few months, you have a list. You may not think of it as a list, but that is what it is. Your “list” is made up of the people you have made contact with about your business, both those who have done business with you (clients) and those who have yet to do business with you (prospects). And when you write this information down, it is your “list.”
Now that you have a list, you have to do something with it. Generally, that means some form of marketing, be it direct mail or email.
But what do you send? How do you know if what you propose to send is appropriate?
Imagine being presented with a fabulous opportunity to promote something to your list that will either; A) make you a ton of money, or B) offend your people so thoroughly that you lose them from your list forever (and risk losing your entire business as well). How do you decide?
When you know the 3 Ws for your list, you can easily know what is right to send and what is wrong. The 3 Ws are simply: Who, What and Why.
Is your list made of prospect or clients? Although there may be some overlap, how you communicate with clients vs. prospects is different. For instance, clients already know about you and your business, so they already are familiar with how your business is run and the value you bring. In contrast, prospects have to be introduced to your policies and educated about what you can do for them.
You can take the Who further by differentiating what market segment your people belong to. If your list was described as a single individual, how would you describe them? Male or female? Married? Children? Education level? Homeowner? The more detailed your answers to these questions, the better you’ll be able to connect with them and predict their behavior.
What do you routinely communicate to your list? Is it mostly educational content that delivers value to your reader? Or is it primarily promotional? Or a combination?
Some believe that all communication with your list should be in the form of newsletters that are about providing value (education) and not about promotion. But many companies deliver highly successful marketing campaigns (think Office Depot and Macy’s) that are all promotion.
Success isn’t dependent on which option you choose, but rather on being intentional about it. Sending “whatever I feel like” won’t garner you a lot of success.
There are two parts to the Why and each part is vitally important. Forget one and your success will be compromised.
Why is your business spending time and resources to communicate with the list? What do you hope to get out of it? Get beyond the obvious answer of “to make more money.” Common answers to this question include such things as: “to better educate our clients so they are more successful as clients and easier to work with” or “to educate our prospects about the value we can bring to their business.”
Why is this person on your list? What do they get out of being on the list? The answer to this question begins with how they got on your list to begin with — did they subscribe or were they automatically added – but goes beyond that. When it comes to electronic communication, by law you have to give people an opportunity to unsubscribe from your list. This is harder to do with print materials, but still possible. So, the better you are able to answer the question “what does someone get out of being on my list?” the easier it will be to KEEP people on your list.
Now that you have the answers to your 3Ws you can easily evaluate any opportunity that comes along. Simply ask, “Does this opportunity fit with the Who, What and Why of my list?” If you get even one NO, then your answer is NO. Simple.
The better and more detailed you can make your answers to your 3Ws, the less time you’ll have to devote to evaluating opportunities. And the easier it will be to create marketing pieces and promotions that are engaging to your reader and lucrative for your business.