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An Exercise in List Building

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While speaking at a recent conference I decided to try out a new exercise with the audience. I wanted to break through the limiting belief that you must have a large email list in order to make money online. This myth is hard for people to get past because they feel they don't have enough of a reach to be successful or to warrant doing the work it takes to launch a product.

Here's how the exercise went (please play along!)

Write down the following numbers:
  • People on your email list (this is your personal email list in your mail account -- NOT your subscriber base)
  • Friends and Fans on Facebook
  • Facebook pages you are a fan of
  • Twitter Followers and people you follow
  • Customer database (people who have bought stuff from you before)
  • Opt-in or Subscriber list (which could be different that the lists already mentioned - this could be your newsletter subscribers or if you have given away a freebee, this list could be the people who subscribed to receive your freebee)

Calculate your totals. I am sure there were people in my audience that had 1,300 names while others had 100,000. At this stage of the exercise it really did not matter.

Think about a product or service you offer online and if you don't have one yet, think about the value you currently add to your clients in any format and maybe come up with a product idea ... like an ebook you could write.

Begin formulating your approach to present the product and/or service you want to get them to market to their list and when you approach anyone...

Come from a place of respect - recognizing and acknowledging who they are and how important the people on their list are to them
  • Be prepared to be convincing and persuasive, yet come from the heart and incorporate integrity (people will sense these emotions)
  • Help them understand what the benefits are to them and their list (i.e. they get to inform their subscribers about something that is in alignment with what you offer OR they get to tell their subscribers about an exceptional offer that they can't get anywhere else OR they get to help you)
  • Be clear about what you want (what you want is to have them say "yes, I'll support you" and sometimes being clear is coming right out and asking them "Are you willing to support me?")
For the next 10 minutes approach other audience members and present yourself for the purposes of getting people to commit to sending out an email blast for your product/book launch. Think quality over quantity. Are you a good match for their customer base?

Through this 10-minute exercise many people in the room ended up expanding their total reach to anywhere from 50,000 to as many as 450,000 people.

What the "big winners" had in common:

  • They were willing to step outside their comfort zone - they reached out to strangers for help
  • Clearly stated the benefits to the person they were asking - WIIFM focused
  • Concise with their message - they did not waste anyone's time and were confident in what they had to offer while they asked for the call to action
  • Knew that no one was off limits - they approached me and other speakers in the room who likely had large lists
  • Gave instead of just taking - they gave out their own contact information while getting others' information.
  • Addressed partner's needs - they asked what their potential partner's needs were as well as the needs of his/her list in order to tailor their presentation
  • Asked "who else?" - they asked the partner if they knew of anyone else who might be a good fit for their launch
So why would complete strangers want to become your partners?
  • They simply want to help you. You might be surprised at how many truly nice and generous people are interested in supporting you. This may seem like a simple thing, and too often people minimize this aspect of marketing. Don't underestimate the Universe to be a kind and supportive place.
  • If you have something of value that will help their customer list they may want to make their list aware of it and support you at the same time.
  • If you set up an affiliate program it would give them an opportunity to make revenue. It is easy for them because it is your product, you have to write the copy, set up the website, fill the orders AND write the email that they simply have to send out to their people.
  • They may have an easy downloadable product that you can offer as a bonus gift which not only gives them exposure to your list, but to the lists of all of your other partners.

Whew - with the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of people, would you spend ten minutes talking (or writing) to strangers? That is how easy it is to have a successful launch. Spend time each day reaching out to people who could potentially be your partners. Start today!

I would love to hear how your exercise is coming together. Please feel free to comment below or send me an email.

Peggy McColl is a New York Times best-selling author and an internationally recognized expert in the field of personal and professional development and Internet marketing. As an entrepreneur, business owner, mentor and professional speaker Peggy has been inspiring individuals to pursue their personal and business objectives and achieve ultimate success. She provides effective Internet marketing solutions for entrepreneurs, authors, publishers, professionals, and business owners, who want to establish an online presence, achieve bestseller status, build their brand, grow and/or expand their business online. You can find out more about Peggy at her website,