Sunday, April 13, 2008

For The Small Business Owner: How To Turn Your Email Into A 24 Hour Sales Force

Use email effectively to promote yourself.About 2 weeks ago, I received a forwarded email from a colleague with some wonderful information.

She had received this email from one of her contacts, a consultant, and it outlined some great Internet sites that this consultant had come across in her travels where people could post events and display their websites.

Naturally, my colleague forwarded the email to me and to another colleague on our team to let us know of the possibilities.

I knew about some of the sites from my prior endeavor in getting a VoIP telecomm interest off the ground, but still found the information interesting.

I still have her email today and still look back to it for reference.

Here is what I find interesting, not just about how I use the email, but also how the original consultant assumes I will use her email.

The consultant that had sent the original email provided several items at the end of her email in her signature. She had:

  • Her name as text
  • Her address as text
  • Her phone number as text
  • Her fax number as text
  • Her email address as a hypertext link
  • Her web site URL as a hypertext link
  • Her logo as a GIF formatted image
  • Her slogan as text

What she didn’t have was all of this information conveniently captured inside of a GIF or a bitmap image, something I’ve seen used quite a bit in small companies.

Putting all of this information into an image file is convenient, easy and it is useful when you want to maintain a consistent look and feel across various email platforms. You don’t have to worry about formatting or placement as you send out email to various clients using different email platforms.

It also does a few other things that may be working against you:

  • It makes any information captured in that image unreadable by the search algorithm embedded in the various email programs. Essentially that means that your client won’t be able to find your email should she do a text search for your company. This becomes vital for small consultancies using yahoo mail, AOL or Gmail.
  • It makes the signature invisible if their email program doesn’t display images. Many of the email programs out there have the capability of not displaying images. In fact, some of them don't show images by default meaning that the only thing your client will see is a square box taking up a space.
  • It makes none of the information distinguishable as hypertext, which means that if your client is displaying images and sees a web address, she’ll have to type it into the web browser instead of just clicking on it or cutting and pasting it into a browser.

Naturally, when sending out your correspondence, you want to make it as easy as possible for the recipient to get back in touch with you. It becomes even more important when the recipient forwards your email as a resource to someone else.

We all did it with postal mail when we used letterhead with address information, a phone number and a fax number.

We need to do it now with email by including name, email address, and website URL in a form that is readily usable.

After all, if you are a provider of decent information, don’t you want to get credit for it?

Our enterprising consultant has essentially turned recipients of her email into a virtual sales force, happily sending out her clickable contact information to hundreds of their contacts, much like a viral infection.

It’s good communication, good business and good marketing.

Email has become an integral part of our communication style, like the telephone, television and postal mail of the past, and how instant messaging and unified communications is in line for the future.

Give your clients every opportunity to see to your name and easily access your contact information. They will thank you for it later and you will get more exposure in the process.

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