You live or die by your database

You live or die by your database. Someone way smarter then me once said this, and it has stuck with me over the years. We all know that making connections count. It’s how business gets done. The bigger your circle of connections, generally the bigger your circle of influence, and by default the bigger your potential circle of sales and success.

In business nothing happens until someone buys something. And it’s that list that is often at the heart of the connection that eventually leads to the sale.

But lists have fallen a little out of favour. Tarnished by online and telemarketers buying contact info expressly to push product to unsuspecting prospects with little or no relationship, we’ve all seen the result of these actions: overflowing in mailboxes, and phones that ring during dinner. In Canada, Can Spam legislation scared many marketers last July 1st with mandatory opt in and crazy stiff fines. Many marketers, without well documented email lists, saw their email database decimated as they begged for opt ins – kind of like asking if you’d like TV with or without commercials; do nothing to get it commercial free, take action if you want commercials. No wonder it became a great opportunity to pear down the crap coming in, to only receive what was truly of value. Based on my research most people willingly accept 6-10 newsletters, of which a core 3-4 are truly valued. The balance get looked at occasionally, and the others that somehow started showing up despite never having opted in, likely lurk in that in box suffering from opt out neglect and downright busyness. In the US the double opt in requirement also hung many lists out to dry.

Is it any wonder many businesses have given up on their list?

And yet, the list is where opportunity exists. The list is what generates sales. That list and your database is what your business will live and die by. In my mind, the list is a two-part mindset or service and value.

listsService: You should exist to serve the people on your list. If you are obsessed with finding ways to grow their capabilities and connections, you have the right mindset. Frankly that’s why I’m obsessed with creating new content of service weekly for readers and not missing deadlines with my e-newsletter and blog.

Value: You should create value frequently for those on your list. Sometimes that value is in exchange for love (they share the content online, tell you how much they value what you do) and sometimes that value is in exchange for money (they might buy a book, a course, hire you to consult or speak)

If you are not going to subscribe to the mindset of service and value, using your list to sell will fail.

Building out interesting and useful media (such as blogs, podcasts, ebooks, videos, white papers, research, help sheets, and enewsletters) that lead to a list is the key to earning more customers. Your media will drive the model.

I’ve referred to it as your media “anchors” and “outposts” in past posts. Anchors are where that original content is created and outposts are the social media tools to broadcast and engage around the content. Once someone has engaged with the content, the key is to get them into the list funnel – I’m a strong believer in the enewsletter for this purpose. Once you have earned the permission to have them ask to be on your list, it is a one on one personal relationship. It should be treasured. It’s then like a relationship, you need to engage, interact, and continue to bring new and fresh things to the table.

The regular newsletter is where you may eventually earn the right to sell. But only if you nurture the relationship and continue to offer value. The model is actually pretty simple: Media drives subscribers, and subscribers are part of a community that will eventually lead to the opportunity to sell.

Does it happen overnight? Not a chance. It’s a slow and steady stream. I’ve been doing a  newsletter for close to two years, every week, delivered the same time each week. I’ve never missed a deadline. It is what drives my business.

Do you have a list/database? Are you currently doing an enewsletter? Do you use the service and value mindset? I’d love to hear about what’s working, or what’s not.



Mary Charleson

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