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ePublication of Australian Fitness Network

When it comes to growing your database, quality trumps quantity. Populating it with your target market is your key to freedom, says Stefan Kazakis.

Contacting your current and future clients and members with frequent and relevant information is one of the most effective ways to grow your business. Centralising this information in a well-managed database will help you achieve this for the long term.

The role of the database

A database is a place where all your clients, prospects and strategic relationships data is kept. A central spot where everyone in your team can go to access the information they need to complete their tasks, whether that is marketing, sales, operations or administration. But it should be remembered that a database is only as good as the information you can retrieve – and that depends on the data that is input. Rules need to be created to ensure consistency, and all users should be trained in the processes to ensure that all data is synchronised.

Who do you include in a database?

If you run a fitness business, or are starting one, you obviously have a service that you think people will want to pay for. But thinking this and knowing how and why it will happen are two very different things. At some point in their busy lives, with all sorts of other options available to them, you want people to look at your club or business and say, ‘Yes, this is what I need’. You want these people, your target market, to be on your database and you need to know exactly who they are and, ultimately, how you can solve their needs in the current and near future.

Why is this so important? Because if you’re not shaping your business from the foundations up, focusing on how you can serve your target market, you are going to try to be everything to everyone and actually be no good to anybody. From a strategic point of view, your desired target market directs the cut of your business. You have made this strategic decision long before you go to market and grow your business (or at least this is what should have happened if you wish to grow a business and not a job). If you want to specialise in training males for strength, make this your target; if you want to train women for post-natal fitness, make this your target; if you want to train older adults, make this your target.

Why is it important to grow your database?

Creating a central location for all of this data will ensure that you are able to not only create a client management system, but also monitor the sales pipeline, customer retention program and customer delight system. Team access to the information that is relevant to their role will ensure that the data contained with the system is accurate and up-to-date. This list of assets in your business is your goodwill – I often refer to it as the ‘gold’ in your business. Your ability to grow, nurture and commercialise your database is your long term key to freedom.

So how do you grow your database?

Setting a KPI for database growth is the first goal. Ensure that your team is on board with this and keep a monthly scoreboard to keep it front of mind.

Here are my 6 top tips to help you do this:

  1. Enter everyone who comes into contact with your business onto the database. Ensuring that you meet the strict industry guidelines about who you can and cannot communicate with, you need to keep in regular contact with your database and ensure that all information you send is both frequent and relevant. Constantly sending sales information, or asking people to buy will not result in a motivated and engaged database – in fact it is very likely to ensure that people opt-out at the first opportunity.
  2. Create interesting and valuable content so that prospects and clients stay subscribed and spread the word. Encouraging people to forward your emails to their friends and fellow business owners will increase engagement with your database. Make sure you have social sharing buttons on all outgoing emails and digital marketing material. Make it easy for people to opt in and share your information.
  3. From time to time promote community building strategies such as gamification or incentive competitions where ‘the crowd’ opts in by providing data.
  4. Adding links to all employees’ signatures will make it easy for people to join your database and follow you on social media. Use social media to your advantage. While I am yet to find the number of Facebook likes on a balance sheet, you must have a social online presence. Not having a Facebook page, Twitter account or LinkedIn profile is like not having a mobile phone or still using a fax machine. It makes you look hopelessly out of date. Adding a call to action on your Facebook page, for instance, is an easy way to capture the data of those that take an interest in your posts.
  5. Within your marketing plan create a series of regular lead generation offers, such as free mini-eBooks on the benefits of fitness, myths about exercise busted, and how to establish a fitness routine. Make sure that all signups provide their email address in order to download the content.
  6. Create an online resource centre that can only be accessed by providing an email address. Provide free online tools, which provide real value for the subscriber or community member.

Of course, you may already have a database but believe that you are not getting the most from it. Prepare for the future as the database begins to grow by collecting as much information as you can. How would you segment your database so that you are only sending targeted information to those that will find it the most value? Think about being on a database for your local delicatessen and getting invited to their ‘VIP cheese and wine event’. Great – but you’re allergic to cheese!

And what do you do if you have an older database? Be brave. Consider an opt-in campaign. Create an exciting opt-in message and send it to all of your list encouraging contacts who wish to remain on the list to opt-in. If you do this you have to be prepared to remove all the contacts who don’t respond. Although the prospect of shedding lots of old contacts may be daunting (however inactive they may be), it is important to note that having an active and participating database will improve your deliverability statistics and increase the chance of your emails and content being shared with those outside of your database.

Business owners today cannot escape the importance of a well-managed database. It is critical to ensure that the content of the database is valid, and that you put it to good use. By setting metrics against its growth and putting strategies in place to build it, your database will become a very valuable resource to your business.

Stefan Kazakis is a business strategist and founder of Business Benchmark Group, which helps clients from a variety of industries achieve ongoing business success and profit growth. He is the author of From Deadwood to Diamonds (Major Street Publishing, $29.95).

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