The Most Underestimated Small Business Resource
Every day, you may be losing one of the most valuable resources in your small business, and not even realize it. That resource is... data.
You may have customers walk in and out of your door, call on the phone, visit your website or interact with your business in a variety of ways. Do you have a way of capturing the data of all of those people?
Start with the basics... name, email, and phone number. Invite them (both offline or online) to subscribe to your email list for tips, advice, special offers, etc.
You may have seen many restaurants or fast food places that have those fish bowls to drop your business card in and enter to win a free meal. I have dropped my business card into dozens of those things, but then... nothing. No phone call, no email. I don't mean that I never win -- but think about it -- they have my name, phone, email... VALUABLE DATA... and they are doing nothing with it! How hard would it be to have someone enter that information and send me an email saying:
"John, we're sorry you didn't win the free meal, but to thank you for coming in we'd like to offer you $1 off a combo next time you come in. Print out this email and we'll see you soon!"?
With my 20 years of marketing experience, I have seen businesses of all types and sizes go through massive campaigns to try to attract new business, while overlooking the people who have already been through the front door (or their website).
I am amazed when I go to a networking event or a business expo and give away dozens of my business cards -- and maybe receive a phone call or an email from less than 5% of them.
Every business should have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool that gives them a place to capture the information you are receiving. The easiest (and cheapest) way to communicate with your audience is through email, so you should also have a good bulk email solution available to you as well.
Before you run any marketing or advertising campaign or event - it is absolutely vital that you have a way to capture and harness the valuable data of your customers and prospective customers. Doing so will pay off immensely as you are able to market more directly when you utilize the valuable resource of data!