Your Database or Email List - Build It and They Will Come

You may remember the movie "Field of Dreams" in which actor, Kevin Costner, plays an Iowa corn farmer who believes he is to build a baseball field in the middle of his cornfield---out in the middle of nowhere. The premise of the movie, "If you build it, they will come."
As you work to build an audience for your book or project, do you feel like you are out "in the middle of nowhere" trying to build something?
Let me tell you a secret, if you build it---they will come. What is the "it"? I am referring to your database or e-mail list. For an author, ministry or business, this list is like gold. And here are some tips on how to do it.
While I champion the need to build your digital footprint with social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc, these shouldn't replace the process of building a working database that you use via your website and with e-mail. I don't care what people say, E-mail isn't going away. It is still one of the primary forms of business communication and gets immediate attention as a primary form of communication.
So to build your audience or your market, you need a database and you need to use that database with e-mail to communicate your message. 
There are several ways to build a database and e-mail list:

  • SIGN-UP SHEET - Every time you speak---no matter how small the group---you need to have a sign-up sheet that you actively promote for participants to sign up. If you have a blog ask for them to sign up for your blog as well. Let them know they can receive updates, discounts and free offers via updates from you. You need to ask for their address and mobile number if they will give it. (Mobile-to-mobile campaigns can also be extremely effective.)
  • GIVEAWAYS - have a bowl at every event where you speak, perform, etc. where attendees can insert their business card for a free gift. The gift can be as simple as a copy of your newest book or a $10-15 gift card, etc. But have it substantial enough that they will want to give you their contact information.
  • HOST A SOCIAL MEDIA CONTEST on Facebook, Goodreads or Pinterest that requires an e-mail address. ( You will need to add the disclaimer that they will be added to your database to receive updates, newsletters, etc.) These are easy to do and can be surprising how much interest you can stir when promoted well. Of course, you have to have already developed some type of Facebook or GoodReads audience to generate interest, or you can buy an ad on Facebook to help get the word out. It doesn't take a big investment (as little as $15-but you do need to know how to target the ad.)
  • OFFER INCENTIVES - Groupon and Living Social dramatically increased their audience when they began to offer bonus incentives for referrals to participate and purchase their offers. Similarly, offer a bonus to friends who bring other friends to your website or help you sell your product. That could be in the way of free shipping, a discount off their next order, etc.
  • CREATE AN "OPT-IN NOW" LANDING PAGE - These pages are easy to create and can be effective for an attention getting- one-page ad within your website to illicit an immediate response for a sign-up. Optimize Press offers easy templates compatible with WordPress blogs and websites to easily create landing pages and sales letters that are easy to convert for other uses. 
  • WEB SIGN UP - If you have a website, be sure that you have added a form to sign up for updates and your blog if you have one. The form needs to be connected to a mailing list management service such as Mail Chimp, Constant Contact or AWeber. These companies have instructions on their sites explaining how to get set up. Mail Chimp is a free service for databases under a certain number, so you can't make the excuse that this is about budget initially.

(Don't forget that social media and email lists are all permission based resources. You can announce the release of your book to individuals once. But if you are doing more than communicating beyond one e-mail, then it is imperative that they sign up and sign on.)
So you are building your list and don't know what to do with it? Call me. Email me. Consultations for project analysis are available or I can help you with a short-term and long-term plan that will continue to help you build your list and audience to be in place and ready to create a revenue stream when you are ready to launch.  
So you're not yet collecting those email addresses? Start now! Begin to build for the long-term. Build it and they will come.