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Business cards and mailing lists

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With so much online chatter and buzz generated through social media, I found myself reading an interesting discussion: Do you automatically add business cards you exchange at networking events to your online mailing list? The answers were varied and the discussion heated.  As a marketing professional myself, I am well aware that we walk a fine line between spamming our contacts and building relationships. I would like to think good marketers have a knack for these things and know how to walk the tight rope.

So, what do you do with all the business cards you receive at networking events, conferences, and seminars?  Well for one, spam laws are pretty solid these days and it’s considered good business to ensure your contacts on the list have first opted-in to be on your online mailing list. Look at it from the prospective customer’s point of view. There is enough spam online and junk mail offline for people to deal with. Almost every medium of communication that could be used for personal contact has been taken over by marketers trying to peddle their wares. While harnessing communication channels for business and creating customer touch-points is important, qualifying and nurturing leads is even more so.

Adding your contacts to a database is a great idea; just don’t add them to your mailing list as yet. And since you have exchanged cards and have been introduced, it is OK to contact them. But before you do so – make sure the contacts are potential customers that have a need for your product or service. If you think they qualify, send them a personal email reintroducing yourself. Tell them about the benefits of subscribing to your company’s newsletter and ask them if they would like to subscribe.  One argument in favor of randomly adding business cards to a mailing list was that the contact could always unsubscribe if they wanted too. But most people at networking events exchange business cards so they can be contacted for business opportunities, not to be added to a list of what they might consider spam. If they feel their contact information was inappropriately used, they could get annoyed and blacklist you (add you to a spam list). Why lose valuable contacts upfront?

There are other ways to get them to subscribe. In your online communications with them, add a link to your address to direct them to the newsletter subscription page. Add the subscription link on your website and social media as well. Once you build a relationship with a contact and they develop a genuine interest in your product, they will be in a better position to subscribe to your e-newsletters and follow your company on social media. Some people on the discussion board indicated that they would not mind receiving a newsletter from a company if they are potential buyers. For one, an e-newsletter is much less intrusive than a phone-call. Two, a newsletter often contains valuable information for someone looking to buy (discounts, promotions, and events among other things). So, by all means do add your business card contact to your list – but first ask them to opt-in. If you’re interested in hearing from Bluff Manufacturing, do subscribe to our newsletter. Log on to our website, www.bluffmanufacturing.com. The “Sign Up” box is located in the left hand column, half way down the home page.  Simply enter your email address and you will be subscribed!