Posted by Brian Berg Google+
Want to excel your business growth in today’s competitive mailing list brokerage business? Take heart to 5 key strategies which all list brokerage firms can benefit from.
1. Identify and stick to your core products and services
Your service bundle should include only those mailing list products and services which you have experience with and can competitively position. Resist trying to be all things to all people. Instead, stick to offering your core products and services, and know them extremely well.
Likewise, identify the vertical market(s) you have the most experience with and work to penetrate this group. You’ll gain more growth traction in repeating success over and over that attempting to master all. Too often, list brokers take on any project that comes their way, waste precious time and energy, ultimately offer less than optimum products and services, and lose the potential for repeat business. Think of yourself as an athlete attempting to excel as all sports at the same time. You’ll score more points when practicing the same sport every day, than on learning many sports all at the same time.
2. Convert prospects to customers by listening to their needs and acting on them
Your customers will tell you what they want from you if you ask them. The magic happens when you develop the skills of asking the right questions. This strategy shouldn’t be confused with a sales skill, but a business development exercise. Customer centric businesses develop loyalty with their clientele and add new customers onto their book of business at a pace that increases bottom-line profit but doesn’t delete the resources to serve existing customers. Think of your customers as partners in your business growth.
Center your business planning solely on the popular needs of your clientele. Focus on differentiation such that your business serves those needs not satisfied elsewhere. It’s important to understand that most of your clients businesses are on various stages of an expansion plan. The more you can engage in discussion about these plans, the better you’ll be able to adjust your services. What’s most important to your customers today may be replaced by something more important tomorrow. Stay in tune with the goals of your clients and you are more apt to be viewed as an integral part of their expansion plan.
3. Make a conscience effort to develop your vendor relationships
Whether your vendors have the same client centric focus business mindset as you do, remember that your vendor relationship is just as important as your customer relationships. Your vendors of course want your business and thrive on the business their customers provide to them. But consider for a moment that they themselves have a “book of business” with you in that mix. If they’re doing their job, they’re focused on your growth. Be the customer that expresses a desire to sell more of their product. Continually ask for advise on how to better utilize their products and services. Look for opportunities to engage in a richer understanding of their products and services without eating up too much of their precious time. And be their favorite customer, i.e., polite and understanding, fair and non-emotional when problems arise, don’t be a “price gouger”, and pay all your bills on time.
In general, consider they too are in the business to earn a profit and don’t abuse the relationship. In return, look to your vendor for information about the competition in general terms. What’s selling more of than less and why? What changes within the industry are potential red-flags to be mindful of and what might produce opportunities for you and your vendor? Nurturing this level of relationship will afford you with more than your competition is receiving. Likewise, by abusing this relationship you’ll likely get less than your competitors will get from these vendors and miss out of many potential opportunities over the years.
4. Align yourself with a source of quality compiled data
How does your current source compare to the other databases available? If you can’t answer this question, then how can you expect to sell the data? List broker businesses win new business because they know their data, how it’s compiled, updated, how it compares to other sources, and how it’s best used. One of the key attributes to data compiled data source is one that works with you, understands your desire to win new projects and grow your business, and support in these areas. Your source for quality compiled data should continually seek new ways of growing business together. Have a heart to heart conversation with your data source, not just about the data, but about your business growth. If you don’t feel they are in support of your businesses, consider alternate options.
There are many sources for compiled data, all boasting the lowest prices, greatest number of selects, and largest count coverages. It’s vitally important that you align yourself with a source that you can be proud of when you deliver a data solution. Imagine this mailing list to be purchased for your own business. Can you think of a better database to draw from that what you are providing? If so, then make that change immediately, even if it means paying a premium. In the long run your customers will thank you and keep coming back.
5. Know when to turn business away
There are times when it simply doesn’t make sense to do business with certain businesses. As a regular part of your business cycle, you should meet with your controller to review the types of accounts that not only pay well, but more or less profitable. Put pen to paper and evaluate those accounts with low marginal profit but a high labor expense. Many mailing list brokers get into a price war to win new business and many times the winner unconsciously bids below the profit breakeven threshold. It’s only later that they realize they are simply unprofitable and must either make drastic changes or go bankrupt.
When thinking through your how profitable your business is, you should look at a customer comparison as they relate to profit vs. COGS, commission payouts, late pays, labor expense, project oriented verse online business. Also consider those difficult, energy draining customers that, though they pay their invoice on time, they eat up precious time and energy looking for problems to nag you about. Nothing zaps energy more than a those customers who always have problems. Weigh your book of business, how many clients fall into this category, and consider ridding yourself and other of this burden.
To learn more about growing your list brokerage, visit http://www.bbdirect.com or call us at (866) 501-6273.