Like A Good Date, Go Slowly When Asking For Information From Prospects And Customers

Various civil rights groups have given “profiling” a bad name, yet the practice of using demographic and other personal information A�A�to categorize prospects and customers for marketing purposes is well entrenched. If you are planning to become a millionaire business with loyal customers, maybe it’s time to think of this process as “relationship building” instead of “profiling.”

In an environment where identity theft, hijacked email addresses and websites, and even criminal mischief is lurking on the web, many people are reluctant to share too much information too fast. Yet some marketers insist on adding so many data fields to their opt-in forms that prospects feel like they are on a bad date. You know, the one that wants to go too fast, too soon.

In this era of social media, prospects and customers expect that marketers will build relationships with them. That means developing a good strategy for obtaining information in a manner that is neither intrusive nor uncomfortable. Ask these 3 questions to begin to develop your relationship strategy:

1. What is the principal type of communication that will be used to communicate with the prospect or customer?

If you are using email autoresponders, you will need to get an email address, which is usually obtained in exchange for something that you offer. The more targeted this offer is to what your prospects and customers want, the more likely it is that you will receive an email address from them.

Some businesses may find that using Twitter will be more effective for the type of strategic communication that is planned. In fact, since it is more social, it may be easier to obtain a Twitter address, or “handle,” first. Or maybe a Facebook profile address is the best information to obtain. Whatever the choice, it should be a decision based on your marketing strategy.

2. How much information do I need to collect right now in order to communicate with the prospect or customer?

Unless you are planning to physically ship or send something to your prospect or customer, asking for their mailing address may be considered intrusive. Any time you request information your customer or prospect thinks is irrelevant to the current conversation or relationship, it can trigger alarms that make them wary and less trusting of the relationship you are trying to build.

Start with just a single point of contact. To become a millionaire business, don’t make it seem like you are a one-night stand – all now, nothing later. It is also a good idea to explain how you will be using the information you are requesting.

3. What is your strategy to build your information profile as you build the relationship with the prospect or customer?

With a long-term strategy in place, it is fairly easy to include your information requests in your communications with your prospects and customers. You can begin by asking for regular, non-threatening feedback, so that when you slip in a request for information that may be more personal, it may not seem out of place.

If you are using an email autoresponder series, you can build this strategy into your programmed communications. If you are using other channels, you can still strategically build your communications to get more information from your customers as you build a relationship with them.