You do keep a list of all your clients and prospects, don’t you? To some readers this will seem a ridiculous question, “Of course we maintain a list!” Others will give me a look of befuddlement or else disguise their nervousness about the question with “Why should I bother with the trouble of keeping a list? It’s too much work and our sales are one-shot deals, anyway.”

If you are in business but have not compiled a list, then the two marketing tools I’m sharing below will be enough to incite you to get started today.

If on the other hand, you’ve started even the most rudimentary of lists, keep up the good work. You’re on track to finding gold nuggets that you might be missing today.

Here are two simple marketing techniques guaranteed to generate more sales from your current list of customers and prospects, no matter what size it is.

When I first started in business, I started with a conventional door-to-door B2B approach. Send a letter, get an appointment for a demo and try to close the sale in person. It worked quite well for the innovative products I was representing and it didn’t take long before I was making a living as my own boss with a pretty good closing ratio.

A colleague in another industry insisted that I was leaving as much money on the table as I was making, and suggested I try a sequenced mailing. According to him I should reach out to all those on my list who did not buy. I was to send them a letter immediately, including an offer of some sort and a deadline. Then repeat with follow-up letters every 30 days or so for the next four to five months.

He was right; I was stunned by the results. Response to letter 1 was excellent, garnering as many new customers as I was getting through personal sales calls. Letter 2 generated half again as many sales as the first letter, with each of the subsequent letters also pulling in smaller yet significant numbers of accounts. In that first year the sequenced mailings generated enough sales growth that I had to add two part-time staff members who became full time within weeks.

The real growth however started when I combined the sequenced mailing with the second technique, which was the printing and mailing of a newsletter to every customer and prospect on my list. The result? That following year saw our sales volume double and the year after it doubled yet again.  This was the growth that got us named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies in North America.

These were marketing tools that got my undivided attention! Yet as powerful as they are, the reasons why they work are not at all mysterious.

We all know it can take numerous ‘touches’ with a potential client before they even start to get warmed up to your message, let alone decide to buy. A client is ready to buy only when they are ready to buy. They are not necessarily ready to buy when you present your idea to them.

A case in point: we recently had one client who purchased from us 12 years after first requesting information! During those 12 years he remained on our list, receiving our print newsletter and occasional product information. While such a time frame IS extreme, it’s not an isolated occurrence.

We discovered early on that clients often need months or even years before they are ‘ready’ to buy. Every printed newsletter and each piece of mail puts you in front of the client, increasing your odds of being there for them when the time is right.

(On a side note, there is a bigger challenge in delayed purchases like this. The question I have to answer is, “What am I missing in the information that’s being conveyed to the prospective client? Why won’t they take action?” Obviously they have a need.)

It’s even possible with these marketing techniques to maintain sales growth in a recessionary economy. Over the past few years, we managed to maintain growth rates of 8-10% annually. And that’s in an industry that is shrinking at a comparable rate, hammered daily by print shop closings, bankruptcies and mergers.

The bottom line is that you should start working your list, even if you have just two dozen names in a spreadsheet. One thing I’ve also learned is that I don’t always have to know why something works. What’s more important is to accept the fact that it does indeed work and to implement as quickly as possible.

For effective ideas on HOW to use your list, be sure to check out Newsletter Marketing Magic. Small business expert and best-selling author Bob Bly demonstrates techniques you can use to get the most from your list, starting today.

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Andre Palko Owner
Andre Palko is founder of the Small Business Rainmaker™ and its free weekly e-newsletter. He is dedicated to delivering award-winning marketing and content that helps business owners thrive in any economy.