Do you have a mailing list? If you’ve just said no, you’re not alone.

99% of people who want to run a business (or already do so) when asked that question will say no.

Well I WANT YOU to have your own mailing list. I’ll explain why later on.

The importance of having a mailing list was something I’ve known for a while, but it was only 12 months ago that I started to build my list in earnest. Almost immediately, I realised that this was something I’d been missing out on for 3 years in business online.

Why the blimmin eck didn’t I start earlier? I just shake my head now and realise it as one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made.

I’ll tell you a little bit about what I used to do. Just a quick potted history of my career. I’m sorry if you find this boring, you can just skip to the survey if you like.

http://www.shareitwithus.com/survey.php?id=1

After leaving school, I went to work for a couple of small steel companies that were part of a larger group. I worked in wages first and then I moved into time and motion study – it was that last bit I didn’t like. I was nobody’s friend.

After 4 years of that, I went to a local technical college for a 6 month course in computing, and then found myself working self-employed through a management consultancy and contracted out to Land Rover which is just a few miles from where I live now.

After 5 years (!) as a contractor, I was offered a full time job as they realised they’d invested a lot of money in me and now couldn’t afford me to leave.

(Hah! I wonder how many thousands of times that’s happened in large companies?)

Feeling settled, I took a pay cut and signed the dotted line, and spent the next 16 years there.

Looking back, I suppose I had a pretty good career there by anyone’s standards. My biggest claim to fame was being the data manager for the projects that introduced both the current Range Rover and its predecessor, both times reporting directly to the project managers.

And I moved round the company a lot. I think I worked in all of the functions at one point or another.

The last few years though I wasn’t so settled and knew I needed to be doing my own thing. So eventually I left.

But before that, in early 2003 I started dabbling on eBay buying and selling used mobile (cell) phones. A hobby while learning the ropes.

Then in mid 2003 I decided to up the ante a little.

I’d spotted that chemical glow sticks were selling quite well and were fetching a decent price, around £12.50 ($25.00) for a tube of 100 eight inch sticks including £2.50 shipping.

So I did a bit of research…

I found a Chinese manufacturer that seemed reputable and after a bit of email tennis I committed to spend £3,000 ($6,000 USD) which I sent them by wire transfer.

I’d never done anything like this before and to say I was worried that I was never going to hear from them again was an understatement. I knew it was going to take 3-4 weeks to put my order together and then another 4 weeks before it would arrive by ship here in the UK.

I fretted about it until I received the bill of lading and the other documents via Fedex. Phew!

Then I fretted about all sorts of other things.

Where was I going to put all these boxes and boxes and BOXES of glow sticks? I cleared my garage.

How was I going to get everything through customs? I looked around and found a local freight forwarding agent that would not only clear customs for me, but would also deliver to my door.

(I didn’t even know they were called freight forwarding agents until a couple of days of research.)

So one day at the beginning of October, a 17 tonne lorry came down my sleepy little road and a mildly exasperated driver “they should have sent a 7 tonner down here!” dropped off something like 100,000 glow sticks – 1,000 tubes.

(EDIT: It was actually 200,000 sticks and 2,000 tubes – I got my calculator out! :-) )

I can’t remember exactly how many there were, but that seems about right from memory.

I can still feel the emotion of looking at all these boxes of glow sticks all the way up to the roof of the garage and thinking “What have I done? I’ll never sell all these! What a waste of money!”

I worked out how much each tube had cost me, including import duty and delivery all the way from China to my front door. £1.50 ($3.00) per tube.

I sold them at the going rate on eBay for £10.00 ($20.00) per tube, plus £2.50 shipping.

In 6 weeks they’d all gone. And I’d turned over a 600% profit on my initial £3,000.

That was it. With a sudden £18,000 ($36,000!!!) in my pocket, I *knew* I could make it on my own one way or another.

Things have been a bit bumpy since then, and there’s been more than a few times when we’ve wondered if we could meet the mortgage payment.

But here I still am.

No one said it would be easy.

BUT!

I could have made my life so much easier if only I’d started building my mailing list from day one.

You see, I was selling both on eBay and on a couple of web sites I owned (I’ve sold one since I stopped selling glow sticks). Two thirds of my sales were coming from eBay.

About 20% of those eBay sales were from repeat customers.

Now here’s the REALLY annoying thing. Some of the repeat customers were buying from my main glow sticks web site (cheaper prices), but the majority would only buy from eBay even though there was no advantage for them to do so.

It was a habit.

So they were paying more money, and I was having to pay eBay fees. Madness.

IF, if, if…

If I had a mailing list, things would have been a lot different.

I would have been able to run special offers, special bundles, you name it, and let my customers know exactly where to take advantage of those deals.

I must have lost thousands in whatever currency you care to choose, just because I didn’t have a list.

So, going back to the start again.

I WANT YOU to have your own mailing list.

Why? Well, you always have to look for the WIIFM – What’s In It For Me?

This is the motivator that gets people to do things. If you can point out the WIIF THEM, then people are more likely to go do it.

I *hope* with my (true) story you can now see the real benefit of having a mailing list.

And the reason I want you to start building a mailing list immediately is because with a list, you join the game. People start to take you seriously when you do a promotion that results in $4,000 in sales for them from a single email.

And of course you get half of that…

Do I have your attention?

I want you to build your own mailing list because it’s in BOTH our interests for you to have one.

I know from the affiliate payments I make each month that those that make the most money are those with a list of their own.

And with you as a list owner, I could be sending you some of those big fat juicy (sorry) affiliate commissions.

I have a series of new products that I’ll be releasing in the next few weeks and months, and the bigger your list, the more of my products you’re likely to sell.

(Yes I’ve been very busy and yes I know I should only be working on one project at a time…)

There’s a double whammy WIIFM there. The bigger your list, the more you profit. The more you profit, the more I profit.

Win-win. I love that.

So, this is where we start. Go fill in the survey and we can see where we stand today. I’ll share the results and analysis with everyone that participates.

And then you and me will talk about list building.

http://www.shareitwithus.com/survey.php?id=1

BTW – the survey script is one of my upcoming products. Very useful… 😉