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Your Lists Are Assets, But Only If…

If you want to sell your business, one of the questions your suitor will undoubtedly ask is:

What is the size and quality of your “list?”

The buyer is not asking about your grocery list here, they want to know if you have a “house list” of existing customers and prospects that you are actively marketing to.

They want to know this because having an engaged, active list is equivalent to cash in the bank.  You might call them “Permission Assets.”

As a business owner, your definition of a list should be expanded to go beyond a list of customer addresses and phone numbers.

Today, we can build lists of “Permission Assets” in many low cost channels.

What Permission Means

When someone raises their hand and knowingly opts-in to a marketing channel that you control, they have become a Permission Asset.

Examples of the low-cost channels where permission assets can be built are:

  • Email (using a system like MarketVolt)
  • Social Media (using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc)
  • Physical Meetings (using a system like MeetUp or Eventbrite)

When someone willingly opts-in to your email campaign, Facebook page or joins your meet up, they have become an asset to your company.  An asset that, if cultivated properly, is equivalent to money in the bank.

You are now able to easily and inexpensively reach them through these channels.

How To Grow Permission Assets

The consumer has wrested control over the messages that they receive via the Internet over the past decade.  Now, more than ever, the consumer is exercising the WIIFM rule.

What’s in it for me?

Sure, we can send spammy or “hard sell” messages via email, Twitter or Facebook.  We can disguise in-person meetings as informational and then hit the attendees with a pitch.

But these tactics don’t work twice.

To build a growing, sustainable set of permission assets that produce sales, we must provide an answer to the WIIFM question.

We must provide value.

Your market is asking for value in many forms including:

  • Entertain Me
  • Inform Me
  • Inspire Me
  • Protect Me (or things I love)
  • Educate Me

Pop quiz:  Which email topic sent by a CPA gets opened and which gets deleted?

  1. Check Out My New Tax Preparation Services
  2. 10 Ways To Legally Avoid A Painfully High Tax Bill

If you answered #1, you haven’t been paying attention.

The Hub

As seen in the image above, the center of a “permission asset” strategy is usually a business blog.

The valuable content that you are creating should be “housed” on the hub and then distributed via email and social media.

A good website or blogging platform, like WordPress, will make the content that you are creating:

  • Discoverable – Search engines (like Google) can easily find your content and send traffic to your site
  • Interactive – Your market wants to comment, vote, rate or otherwise interact with your message.
  • Shareable – Your market wants to easily share your content via email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. with their social networks
  • Automated – Your content can be automatically “pushed” out and shared with your social networks

Growing a list of permission assets is as simple as building valuable content on your website and distributing that content through various channels.  Then, providing the methods for the consumers of that content to opt-in to further messages and share those messages with their network.

Finding The Right Mix

I know what you are thinking.  My mortgage company doesn’t take “permission assets” — just cash.

Forming lists of permission assets leads to growing the bottom line.  The next time you are launching a new product or service, doing a membership drive or rounding up sponsors for an event — leverage your lists.

Assuming you have been cultivating these lists through a series of valuable messages, they will respond to an offer.

Understand that the response to your offer will be directly proportionate to the amount of value that you have been providing through these channels in the days, weeks and months past.

My likelihood to make an offer to my “list” is similar to my likelihood to withdraw money from my bank account.  In this analogy:

Communicating Valuable Content = Deposit

Communicating an Offer = Withdrawal

As you manage your permission assets and the messages you are sending the data will tell you, much like your bank statement, whether you can make a withdrawal or not.

Your open and click rates will rise and fall based on the number of deposits and withdrawals you are making via your email list.  As will the number of “likes” and “retweets” you are getting on Facebook and Twitter respectively.

If you are paying attention, you will know when your balance is in the red or black.

Guest Blogger Russ Henneberry provides marketing training for businesses that don’t have Chief Marketing Officers.  You can join Russ’s community by clicking here.

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