Here is the One Great Secret to Increase Your Wealth and Success
by Doug Farrick
A satisfied, loyal customer is really the most valuable asset you have. A lot of people erroneously believe it is always about marketing to "new" customers when in fact it is the long term, residual value of a customer that is most important. And it is not the asset of a customer list or mailing list but the relationship you have with those folks - that is the REAL asset (and a much more valuable one) and what you should aspire to create.
The only way to succeed (and achieve competitive advantage) in today's "info-overload" world is to be constantly in front of your customers. Data used to suggest that only a few amount of "touches" or contacts per month was necessary to be the preferred choice.
Now, some of the most successful marketers are contacting prospects once a day and sometimes more! Now that is a bit extreme but keeping in mind a "touch" can include e-mail, newsletter, fax, direct mail piece, postcard, voice broadcast, teleseminar, etc. etc. You want to be able to "make a fence" around your customers and create a relationship with them so there is no question who they will gravitate towards. So the sooner you can start gather names and customer information the better. Collect both online AND offline information.
A couple of things I would do ASAP:
1. Create an initial system - it all revolves around this. Implement *some* type of system. It does not have to be a large , expensive solution. If a handwritten rolodex solution works for you then use it. If a notebook works, use it. However, sooner or later you will want to look into a software "contact management" solution - something like Filemaker or Daylite or Act.
2. Maximize your software power - take the time to review and understand all of your softwares capabilities. These include things like: contacts, calendar, appointments, to-do lists, sorting, reminders, label making - learn how to streamline and make your workflow more efficient.
3. Get in the names collection mindset - whether you are at networking events or reading the newspaper or even in casual conversations, make it a point to keep your name collection "antenna" up. And either carry a small notebook, PDA or micro-recorder so you are able to capture this contact info on the fly. And please don't make it a chore. Have fun. Make it a game. Set a monthly name collection goal. Become a super name collecting sleuth. Think of each name as X amount of future dollars in your bank account.
4. USE the data - it doesn't do much good to have a rich contact database and just have it sit there. Get a marketing/publicity planner and plan your campaigns well in advance so you can target specific holidays, unique days (groundhog day, tax day, etc.) or your own invented day/holiday.
One final thought
It is sometimes easy to dismiss ideas as being overly simplistic. Creating a customer list can fall into this category (believe me, I have seen this many times in my consulting with designers) so please do not take this lightly. So Plan and implement *some* type of system today (or this week).