- THE MAGAZINE
In this first series, my goal will be to choose things that you are probably unfamiliar with, or at least not using to the fullest extent. In this column, I will always share something that has already been proven and tested in my own cleaning firm.
I am excited about doing this column, but I am concerned at the same time. I am excited because I know how much these marketing strategies will help your business. I am concerned because most small business owners don’t implement very many of the strategies they learn.
Most small businesses struggle because of what I call “Failure To Implement,” or F.T.I. Many of you will learn a strategy and, for a variety of reasons, you won’t do anything with it. Don’t let that happen.
Remember, the biggest difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is not that successful are always smarter or more educated. The biggest difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people do what unsuccessful people don’t. Not that they can’t. Just that they don’t (or won’t).
Don’t let F.T.I. steal your success! Instead, make a decision that you will implement more than you have implemented in the past. Doing just a single small thing over and above what you are currently doing will make a difference. Don’t worry if you don’t understand the strategy completely. Usually, doing something is better than analyzing whether it will work or not, or wondering what you should do, or whether you should do it at all.
Just do it. It’s all about production. It’s all about implementing more than the next guy. It’s all about getting more done in less time. If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten. Avoid F.T.I. at all costs. Remember that you have to work “on” your business, not just “in” it. If you want to take your business to the next level, you have to do something that you are not currently doing.
Okay, now on to our subject of the month:
The Power of Permission E-Mail MarketingThe first strategy I want to share is what I call “Permission E-Mail Marketing.” Let me be very clear here, we are not talking about SPAM. I am talking about getting e-mails from clients, prospects, and associates and getting their “permission” to add them to your e-mail list.
Before discussing how to get e-mail addresses, let’s look at some reasons why you should be using this strategy.
Reason No. 1: Immediate ContactWith e-mail marketing, you can reach a large number of your customers in an instant. It takes as little as 10 minutes to create an e-mail campaign and get it out to your subscribers. I use a program called Constant Contact, which you can try for free for 60 days (go to www.rovingsoftware.com to subscribe). There are other programs that do broadcast e-mail, but Constant Contact offers some advantages that other programs do not. You don’t necessarily need to have a fully automated auto responder and shopping cart to make this work well for your cleaning and restoration business either. Constant Contact is easy to use even if you are not real fluid with the computer.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we interrupt this broadcast to bring you the following message: ‘If you don’t have a computer, wake up and smell the new-millennium coffee. Buy one today. If your excuse is “I’m computer illiterate…” stop your whining and sign up for a computer literacy course today. In today’s business world you cannot afford to be behind the times.’”
By being able to reach your audience instantly, you can get out a special offer or relate to a current event. If you are in restoration and there is a local disaster, you could send out an e-mail with instructions on how to handle the situation. By the time you get mail out, it is too late.
Reaching your subscriber obviously depends on whether they are in front of their computer and whether they open the e-mail or not. Even if they don’t open it, but they see your message in their In Box, you have scored some points. At a minimum you want to achieve TOMA (Top Of Mind Awareness). Obviously you want them to open the e-mail, but that will depend on how compelling your subject line – the headline for an e-mail – is.
Warning: E-mail is not a replacement for snail mail! E-mails get caught in junk folders, they are deleted by family members, or are simply overlooked. Every carpet cleaner in America should be sending something to their existing clients every month, assuming they want to keep the maximum number of them and gain a maximum number of referrals. Also, people are in a hurry when they are on the computer and they don’t often think of printing out the e-mail for future reference. They may not even be able to if they are checking e-mail at Starbucks with their Blackberry!
Reason No. 2: It's Almost FreeI send out about 20,000 subscriber e-mails a month and I have rarely spent more than $30 a month. Again, this is not a replacement for mailers, just an inexpensive addition.
Reason No. 3: In Living ColorSome programs allow you to connect to any picture on the web. Be sure not to use copyrighted material (especially mine! J). For example, if you have photos on your website you would like to use, you can simply add that photo into the e-mail. Constant Contact has an image library where you can upload photographs from your computer. You can also link to any page on the Internet, as well as videos.
Reason No. 4: Tracking and TestingOnce you get a subscriber base built up, you will be able to do quite a bit of testing. Many programs allow you to see how many people opened a certain e-mail. You can see what links they clicked on and how many clicks that link got. You can even export the e-mail addresses that clicked on a certain ad or link.
Your open rate tells you how good your subject line is. Your subject line is the headline for your e-mail campaign. The copy you use in your subject line will determine whether the subscriber is compelled to open it or not. Keep in mind that the time of year and what you are offering has an effect as well. For example, I will get a higher open rate during November, our biggest month. I won’t get as much in February when it is slower. However, special offerings can change that. If you do water and the temperature drops in February, causing a bunch of broken pipes, you will probably get a big open rate if your headline is related to broken pipes.
Reason No. 5: Constant ContactYou never want your clients or prospects to forget about you. Ever. E-mail marketing gives you an amazing way to stay in front of your clients. Assuming that you offer a good service, staying in touch with your clients will increase your sales. They are more likely to use your service more often, they are less likely to use someone else, you will be able to “brand” your message in their mind, therefore commanding a higher price by positioning yourself as the authority, they are more likely to use your secondary services (like tile and grout cleaning, etc.), and they are more likely to refer you.
Reason No. 6: Make More MoneyEvery time we send out an e-mail to our client base we get immediate jobs.
Next month, I will tell you exactly how to implement the system and how to get more e-mail addresses from your clients and prospects. Until then, avoid F.T.I.