7 Deadly List-Building Mistakes

What if I told you that your business was your e-list?

That’s right, not your experiences, expertise, services, your reputation, brand, computer files, or anything else in your business, tangible or intangible.

I’m not saying, these aren’t important; they are. But please do this quick thought experiment with me:

Your office burns down and you lose everything. Nothing left, whatsoever. What would you do to rebuild? It would be an unimaginable amount of work, wouldn’t it?

But if you had a great e-list everything would be easier.

You’d get another computer, go to your e-list online, send out an email to all your subscribers, tell them what happened, make an offer for a new service and you’d be up and running again in days, not months.

Your list is your relationships, your network, your community, and if you haven’t built much of a list, you don’t have much of a business. In fact, if you don’t have a good list you have very little momentum in your business.

We’d all like a list. A good list. A big list.

But in working with thousands of clients, I’ve learned that most make so many mistakes in building their list that they don’t get very far with it.

Here are Seven Deadly Mistakes in Building Your List.

1. You don’t have an e-list manager

An e-list manager is a program like AWeber or Constant Contact. They manage your list online and enable you to send emails to your whole subscriber list without getting tagged as spam. Next to email and web hosting, this is the most important online service you’ll ever use.

Big mistake trying to build your list in Outlook and sending mass emails from your desktop. Remember that fire? No, you want to make it automatic, fast and secure. Sign up for an e-list service today and start building your list.

2. You don’t have a good home page

Almost nobody gets this. There is one, and only one, purpose for your web site for first time visitors. It isn’t to learn about you and your business, it isn’t to contact you (they won’t), it isn’t even to sell a product or service.

It’s to get their attention long enough for them to request some free information on your website and give you their name and email address. And if your home page is not designed to do this, it won’t happen.

By the way, you don’t want a sign-up form on your home page. You don’t want one of those awful “squeeze pages.” You don’t want anything sleazy and manipulative. You just want to tell the story of your business in such a way that visitors are immediately motivated to get some free information from you.

3. You have nothing of real value to give away

Just signing up for your eZine is not enough. It’s never been enough but it’s even worse now. If you say “sign up for my wonderful monthly eZine,” they’ll just ignore you. They get too many eZines already.

But if you say, “get my valuable free report” you have a fighting chance they’ll give you their name and email. Then the eZine they also get is the bonus, not the main offer.

But that report had better be great. Not a few tips tossed off casually that wouldn’t excite anyone. No, it has to be your very best stuff, ideas that will get them thinking, ideas that will get them worried about this mistakes they’re making, ideas that will have them eager to read your regular eZine.

4. You don’t have a good sign-up page

When your visitor clicks somewhere near the bottom of your home page to request your free report, you can’t just say: “to get your free report, please fill in the form and submit.” They won’t.

You need to sell the free report. That is, you need to build a solid case in just a few paragraphs proving this report is valuable, that it will help them, that it is exactly what they’ve been looking for.

Have some confidence in what you’re offering and be excited about it (not over-the-top hype, just excitement). Tell them exactly what they’ll learn and gain if they get your report and the bonus eZine. If you do, people will sign up in droves.

5. You don’t have a high quality eZine

Once a week for 13 or 14 years I’ve sent this eZine out to my subscribers. I make it a priority. I take a few hours to think about it, plan it, write it, format it and send it out. It’s my main marketing task every single Monday.

The point is that I understand this is the primary marketing communication to the thousands of people on my e-list. I know a lot of people look forward to it. I know people who built their whole business just from the ideas in this eZine.

And I also know it brings me almost all my clients and customers. Yes, it took me time, but now this list has become the most important resource in my business. But this will only happen if you commit to a high quality eZine that goes out like clockwork.

6. You don’t work actively at list-building

“If you build it, they will come” is not a good maxim for your eZine. You need to make some concerted efforts to build your list. But it’s more common to hear, “Well, I’ve sent out my eZine for a few months but my list isn’t growing; I guess this doesn’t work anymore.”

That’s a bit like saying, “I put the food in the oven but it’s not cooking.” Well, did you turn on the heat? Probably not! You need to apply some marketing heat, which means actively promoting your report. Yes, the report, not the eZine.

Offer your report though networking, talks, teleclasses (where you’re the guest presenter), though articles posted online, and through partners (more on this in #7). Anyone with a little intention could get 100 or more people to visit their web site each month to get their free report.

7. You don’t partner to build your list

I did all the above, and more over the years, to build my subscriber base, but I missed an important strategy that could be the most powerful one of all and that will add thousands of new subscribers to my e-list this coming year.

That strategy is called co-promoting with a partner. What you do is find a partner who also wants to build their e-list and who also has a high quality report. You send an email to your list offering their report and they send an email to their list offering your report. Easy to do and very effective.

It doesn’t get much simpler than that. At the beginning, when you don’t have a huge e-list, you’ll be partnering with those who also have smaller lists. But as time goes on and as your list grows, you’ll partner with people with larger lists.

The More Clients Bottom Line: Independent Professionals get great marketing results if they’ve built good e-lists and know how to leverage them to attract more clients. This should be on the top of your marketing to-do list. Every day you put it off, you’re losing business and making marketing harder than it should be. Get past these seven deadly mistakes and grow an e-list that takes your business to a whole new level.

By Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Please visit Robert’s web site at www.actionplan.com for additional marketing articles and resources on marketing for professional service businesses.