Are You Making This Marketing Mistake? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bernadette Doyle   
Thursday, 10 April 2008 00:00
Bernadette Doyle
Bernadette Doyle

A few years ago, I met one of the best known 'sales experts' in the UK. He had authored several books, and provided motivational training for blue-chip companies in a career spanning decades. If you've worked in the sales world for any time, you have almost certainly heard of him. Now in the 'golden years' of his career, he could sit back and let the opportunities come to him, couldn't he? Actually no. 'We never kept a database, Bernadette' he privately confessed to me.

So at great expense he had to hire and manage a sales team to set appointments for him. If he had cultivated a list over the years, he would have had prospective clients knocking on his door.

'But my business is different!' OK, so you're a consultant - and you only work with 3-4 large clients each year. Surely you don't need a list of 1,000 do you? Maybe not, but any list will give you huge leverage. If you run a training course, you could offer 'tips' to attendees which you mail or email after the training. Make sure you keep in touch because even though they may not have buying authority right now, some of those attendees will get promoted, some will move to other departments, some of them will move to different companies, or even different industries. Several business opportunities have come to me this way over the years.

Or you're a massage therapist - and you can only see 12 clients a week, so you think you don't need to have a huge list either. No therapist who has been in business for more than 2 years should ever have an empty appointment book. Just this week I heard the sad tale of an experienced complementary therapist who had worked with over 1,000 clients. Business had mainly come her way via word of mouth and referral. But then, for a variety of reasons, she had to stop working with clients for a couple of months and had lost momentum.

Now she was struggling to re-establish her client base to it's previous levels. 'Well, why not send a mailshot to your past clients,' was the advice. 'Ah', she replied, 'I didn't actually keep a list of addresses of my clients'. So she was basically starting from scratch all over again.

This sounds so obvious, but you would be surprised just how many people I have seen make this fundamental marketing mistake.

Keep a list of all your past clients, and if you come up to a lean period, you can simply send a mailshot to them. It doesn't have to be hard sell, just a simple reminder that you're available, and perhaps a special offer. I guarantee you will get a response from people who have been meaning to call you for weeks or months, but never got around to it - until you contacted them.

Action Steps

  1. Commit to collecting names and contact details of every single person who expresses an interest in your business. Look at every current activity you do to market your business and make sure that there is a way of capturing details of people - even if they're not ready to buy right away.
  2. Follow up and stay in touch. Yes, I know you're really busy and don't have time to follow up with everyone, but there are ways of following up with people that don't have to be a huge drain on your time or money. An email newsletter like this one is a cost effective way to stay in touch with thousands of people. Even monthly or quarterly mailshots or postcards would be better than nothing at all.
  3. Stop trying to be perfect. Some sort of name capture and follow up is better than nothing at all, and you can always tweak and adjust your follow up messages as you go along (that's what I do)
  4. Start measuring success differently. Most people measure their business results in terms of sales and profits. I recommend that you also add 'size of the list' to your success measurement - as it can help you plan for future sales and profits too.
  5. Commit to building and cultivating a prospect list. Put 'growing your list' to the top of your priorities and you'll be surprised at the results you can achieve.

© 2008 Bernadette Doyle

Bernadette Doyle publishes her weekly Client Magnets newsletter for trainers, coaches, consultants, complementary therapists and solo professionals. If you want to get clients calling you instead of you calling them, then get your free tips now at

Last Updated on Friday, 31 October 2008 17:55