Whenever clients ask me why they need their own (opt-in) list of contacts and customers, I tell them this:
“She who controls the list controls the marketing message.”
Then, I usually recount one story or another I’ve gathered from other consultants. Like the consultant that joined a new direct sales company after her previous company closed their doors. With less than a week to finalize any outstanding orders, most consultants are left cobbling together customer order forms, old guest lists, and email contacts as they try to rebuild their business with a new company.
Or perhaps you’ve left your company for “greener pastures” as did one top income earner I know. Eventually several of her downline team mates joined her. Naturally, you’re going to let all your past hosts and customers know about your the change. In doing so, you just might end up like she did – slapped with a lawsuit for “enticement”. Her former company claimed that she was using confidential company information that was owned by the company to “harvest” customers and consultants, causing them thousands of dollars in lost business.
If you look at most direct sales consultant agreements or policy manuals, you’ll see wording that says all customer and consultant lists belong to the company, and that you are granted a license to use that information as long as you are a consultant. Customer lists are confidential, and considered an important “trade secret” that could cause financial harm should they fall into the “wrong hands”.
Now, I’m not trying to put the fear of God in you. As a business owner, you need to be aware of all the details of any contracts/agreements that you sign. Make sure you’re reading the fine print in your consultant agreement and policy manual.
You hold NO ownership claim to any list that is controlled by your direct sales company.
That means whenever a client or lead visits your company sponsored website and signs up for the company sponsored newsletter, they are part of the company sponsored marketing system and their contact info is essentially owned by the company.
It doesn’t matter if the client is a lead from another state or your great Aunt Margaret. The company owns the lead.
As a business owner, YOU need to have a list that you control. As the owner of “You, Inc.”, you have a right to contact, market and serve anyone on your own list. Having your own marketing list – that your clients have agreed to be on (they have opted in) – provides you several walls of protection.
If you have clients that opt-in to your list BEFORE you recommend your company products or services, you can prove that they were YOUR leads first. It’s as easy as having them sign up for your monthly newsletter (not the company newsletter, YOURS). When leads opt-in, they have given you written permission to be added to your marketing list.
Don’t just add people to your list, or you could be accused of violating CAN-SPAM regulations. Get their permission. If they’re really your customers, they are usually happy to grant you that permission.
Portability & Flexibility
When you control the list, you determine how and when they are contacted. You can send them ANY message that is in alignment with the purpose of the list. Don’t send cooking recipes to a list about financial managment. You assume responsibility for any and all messages going out to your list. It is also your responsibility to keep the list clean.
Plus, if you move to a new company, you can take that list with you. If you use a mailing list service, you can automate a lot of the work, and make updating a snap!
As the market continues to evolve, being able to communicate effectively with your audience begins with building a relationship built on trust, identity and likeability. If your leads don’t know, like and trust you, they won’t follow you from one company to another. Having your own marketing list, allows you to update them on the happenings in your life – not just the hot special your company has this month.A company can only develop a product centric relationship – because they don’t know your clients like you do. By sending out periodic updates about some of the personal aspects of your life, your clients get to learn more about who you are as a person, not only as a sales rep.Like Jeffrey Gitomer says:All thing being equal, people want to do business with friends. All things being unequal, people STILL want to do business with friends.
Real businesses own their list, treat it like gold, and protect it like Fort Knox. You should too.
© 2009 Lisa Robbin Young.
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Lisa Robbin Young is a certified direct sales marketing coach, teaching direct sellers to grow their business like a real business instead of an expensive hobby. Sign up for her free weekly ezine at http://www.homepartysolution.com