The Value of a Name

As a business owner, I’m sure you’ve come up against the age-old challenge of increasing sales and wondered, “How can I do this more effectively?” And I’m sure you’ve heard the hype about mailing lists. Everyone seems to think they’re the best thing since sliced bread. But are they really effective? Is it something you should be considering? Reflect on the following.

Let’s say you advertise in the local newspaper. It will cost you about $20 per day that the ad runs. We’ll run it three times a week. That’s $60 per week, $240 per month, and over $3000 per year spent on advertising. The sad part is that the vast majority of people that even subscribe to the paper will never even see your ad, let alone notice it enough to act. That’s because most of them don’t care. That’s not why they buy the newspaper. They aren’t looking for ads. In fact, they’re so inundated with advertisements that their minds simply filter most of them out.

How will an E-mail list help?
E-Mail lists give you direct contact to the customers that WANT to hear from you at a fraction of the cost of typical advertising techniques. In his book Ice to the Eskimos, John Spoelstra talks about the power of selling to existing customers. He calls it the ‘Quick Fix Silver Bullet’ because if they’ve bought your product once, they’re many times more likely to buy it again than a new prospect is. This will inject instant ‘new life’ into your cash flow.

How do I develop my own E-mail list?
This is the fun part. There are hundreds of ways to develop your E-mail list and the method you choose will be up to you. Be creative. Here’s an example to get your gears turning. Have you ever noticed those fishbowls in restaurants that invite you to place your business card in them for a chance to win a free lunch? Smart restaurants take those names at the end of each drawing, and enter them into a database of customers. They then send an E-mail or postcard to the customers that didn’t win and tell them, “Sorry, you didn’t win this time but please accept our invitation to come in this week and have your dessert on us. And while you’re in here, drop your business card into the bowl and try again.”

Why would they just give out free desserts? Because customers that were satisfied enough with their experience to enter a contest for a free meal already want to come back…this just encourages them to do it sooner.

That is an example of a successful E-mail list in action. The restaurant is utilizing an inexpensive promotional strategy to build up their list. They can then use these E-mail addresses to notify customers of special events, menu changes, or other promotions. Giving a free dessert now and then to a customer that comes in repeatedly is a small price to pay for a lasting customer relationship.

The best way to increase sales is to increase sales…to existing customers. Get them to buy just slightly more or slightly more frequently and you will see your business grow significantly.

Want other ideas on developing and utilizing a mailing list to increase sales for your company? Email me at with “Mailing List Ideas” on the subject line. StarPointe specializes in helping small businesses to grow through inexpensive but effective marketing strategies.

Ryan Jenkins
President: StarPointe Marketing


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Keeping Customers vs. Getting Customers

Everybody knows it’s cheaper to keep a customer than to get a new one. You don’t have to advertise as much, you don’t have to find them, you just keep ‘em happy. Well, how can you apply that to building business?

The trick is to gently upsell them or what I like to call “invitation upselling.” We’ve all met pushy salesmen who try so hard to get us to buy things whether we want them or not. But do you realize that every time you go out to eat you’re being upsold? We typically don’t think of waiters/waitresses as salespeople but next time you go out to eat pay attention. “What can I get you to drink?”, “Do you want fries with that?”, “Did you want the combo?”, “What will you be having for dessert today?”

Invitation upselling is not pushy or annoying. Most of the time we don’t even realize we’re being upsold. “So how can that apply to my small business,” you say? Well here’s the thing, your customers already approve of your product otherwise they wouldn’t be buying it so it’s safe to assume that they wouldn’t mind getting more of it if it were a good value. All you need to do is ask them, “Did you want the regular version or the enhanced version for another $20?”

Assume that they just didn’t choose that version because it didn’t occur to them. Invite them to try it but don’t push. Your customers will thank you for the respectful, helpful approach.

We’ll talk more about assuming the sale and “trying” later.