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By David Frees

For years now, internet entrepreneurs and information marketers have been successfully building their businesses and profit margins through the use of automated technologies that leverage time while radically improving marketing efforts, sales expenditures, and business building and retention efforts.

Auto responders and Web-based prospecting tools are two of the simplest and most effective automated techniques and the time has now come for brick and mortar service firms and businesses to learn and to strategically implement these techniques to build and maintain more profitable business relationships.

This article will walk you through the essential information that you need to begin right now to build and protect your business even if you are techno-phobic. Let’s begin with a few of the most essential marketing concepts and definitions that you’ll need to understand in order to take full advantage of this technology.

First, some definitions:

Web Prospecting: By way of definition, a Web based prospecting tool would be an electronic sign up form on your Web site that captures the names and email addresses of potential customers who have expressed and interest in a product or service.

Auto Responders: An auto responder is a piece of software that allows a business to do three things:

• capture and maintain client email addresses (and often mailing addresses and phone numbers as well);

• automatically send out a series of prepared messages in a set order over a set period of time (or indefinitely); and

• send notices, newsletters, information, a breaking news through “broadcasts” to this list.

In other words, when a new customer signs up at your web site or in your physical facility, they are automatically added to the software data base. The auto responder software then automatically (hence the “auto” in auto responder) sends a note, prepared by you, welcoming the customer and telling them that you’ll say in touch and will provide ideas, information, news, and other important content as long as the client or customer is a subscriber to your email list.
The Benefits

Auto responders provide real time leverage because you write this welcome message once and it is always sent automatically whenever someone signs up.

You might then program the auto responder to send out an information rich note to each subscriber a week after they sign up. The client or customer has now heard from you twice. You are starting to build a relationship with that prospect or customer right from the start. You can have an unlimited number of these messages that are forwarded automatically, and you can arrange them to go out in a logical and useful order for building a relationship with the client and customer.

The auto responder builds a relationship. It keeps the customer informed and aware. It also gives you a new and inexpensive way to inform existing clients of new services, products, or opportunities.

This process reinforces your value to the customer and helps to build the relationship. The growing relationship inoculates the prospect, customer, or client from being lured away by the competition. It also improves the likelihood that the client or customer will make one or more referrals of other similarly situated person or business.

So, besides the obvious benefits, why is this so important?

Marketing Strategies

First, it is essential to realize that it is always easier and less expensive to sell more services and/or products to an existing customer than to acquire a new customer. If you doubt this, just try to figure out how much it really costs to acquire each client or customer. However, existing clients and customers already like and trust us. They are often hungry for more of what we have to offer but until now we have lacked a simply easy and inexpensive way to stay in contact and to remind the existing customer of new offerings.

Now, however, in addition to the traditional use of mailed flyers, catalogues, newsletters, ad packs and sales letters, we can use email auto responders. By making your auto responder content so entertaining, informative, profitable, and productive to out clients and customers we discourage poaching by competitors while we enhance the likelihood of repeat purchases and referrals.

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David Frees is an Officer and Shareholder in the law firm of Unruh, Turner, Burke & Frees.
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