Two jewelers have stores next door to each other. At night, Jeweler #1 locks his jewelry in his safe and leaves his list of customers in his office. Jeweler #2 leaves his jewelry out, but locks up his customer list. One night, a burglar breaks into both stores and steals everything in sight. After the insurance payout, only Jeweler #2 is able to rebuild his business.
The moral here? It’s fairly simple to replace material objects. Finding customers is more difficult.
I was reminded of how important a customer list is while listening to NPR the other day. A newsperson reported that along with John Kerry’s endorsement of Barack Obama comes Mr. Kerry’s e-mail list of three million supporters. That’s three million new people Obama can now use for canvassing and fundraising.
Every direct marketer understands how valuable his list of customers and prospects is. But for a new Internet entrepreneur, the job of getting a list started can seem daunting. And the thought of growing that list into the thousands can seem all but impossible.
I’ve found that the best way to start is with pay-per-click (PPC) ads on the major search engines. This allows you to manage every aspect of your marketing campaigns. You can choose the demographics of your audience. You can choose to advertise in particular regions, countries, or worldwide. You can limit the amount of money you spend on your ads. You can decide which messages certain people will see. PPC advertising is a very flexible way to target specific people.
One of your best resources is Google’s own AdWords advertising center. (google.com/adwords/) You will not only find many great tips there, you’ll be able to share and discuss ideas with other advertisers and Google support staff in the AdWords online discussion group.
Read Patrick Coffey’s article “Mastering Google AdWords in 3 Easy Steps” for easy-to-follow directions on creating great PPC ads. And follow that up with Alexis Siemon’s article “Rev Up Your Sales With Google AdWords” for three simple ways to get the most out of your PPC campaigns.
With a good combination of ad and offer, you can easily build a list of a few thousand qualified e-mail prospects within a few short months. In fact, building a list of 10,000+ names in a year is a realistic goal.