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Content development for cash-strapped entrepreneurs: Building your list

“How do we build a business and keep up with the content demands our audience expects? There are so many steps involved in making it work, where do we start?”

Feeling Overwhelmed?

We feel whatever step we take doesn’t feel right or it’s beyond our resources to feel right. As a result, we get stalled with lots of great ideas but no idea how to implement them.

So let’s review the expectations, in no particular order:

  • Build your list
  • Implement social media
  • Check your analytics
  • Know, like, trust
  • Network
  • Build relationships

Who isn’t overwhelmed just reading that list? They are all interconnected so where do we even begin? Especially when we are bootstrapping our business?

Start with a list.

From the moment you told the first person you were starting a business to today, everyone you tell is a potential addition to your list. Here are some resources for list-building:

  • Existing business connections
  • Networking
  • Social media contacts
  • Friends, family, neighbors

A common mistake is to wait until you have a list of people who fit your exact audience persona. If you wait for the ideal contact, you will wait a long time.

A Starting Point

From business cards to LinkedIn connections, to webinars and conferences, you already have a list and don’t even know it. Start by:

  • collecting first and last names (required by most email marketing programs and customer relationship management [CRM] tools)
  • collecting email addresses
  • tagging each contact as a lead, resource, client, general contact or other category that fits your business needs
  • transfer to an excel worksheet
  • import your worksheet into the CRM tool of your choice.

*At this level, you may wish to hire a short-term virtual assistant. The time drain and task itself will not be worth it if you lack the time or patience to do this yourself.

Thinning Your Existing List

As you review your contacts and connections, some may no longer be applicable to your business goals or your ideal client persona. If you find this to be your case, there are 2 ways to view this:

1.  Delete them. If you are certain they are not a good fit—as a lead, resource, referral or a potential collaborator—remove them. It’s an extra step, but this option puts you in control over who receives your content.

2.  Keep them. While some connections may not be your ideal audience, they may know someone who is or they may eventually become a client. If you choose to keep these contacts, this person has the option to unsubscribe from future content.

*NOTE: at this phase you will have a low open rate and possibly a higher rate of unsubscribes. While all the wisdom out there says this is bad, take comfort knowing this will not always be the case. Open rates will improve and you streamline your list, your communications, and your content. Our goal right now is to START!