Jul 24, 2009 at 03:05 PM
written by Ron Seaver

The Most Valuable Piece of Your Business

Wanna Know What the MOST VALUABLE Piece of your Business Is...?? (and here's a surprise ... it's not what you THINK it is...!)

You know, if I walked up to most business owners out there at their shop or in a meeting and asked them this very question, they'd stop ... stroke their chin a few times ... and respond that it's undoubtedly something about their product, service, special formula or award-winning customer service.

Not bad. No doubt - all good answers. But all wrong...wrong...wrong.

Pure and simple, the most valuable thing you own in your business isn't your intellect or your intellectual property. It's your "own" database. This is your roster of readers, customers, meeting bookers, current and past clients, former attendees, on-going association members and, even some of your hottest prospects. This is your "life line" - and believe me, you need to guard this list with your life!

In many more ways than one, these good people are going to keep you in business. And it's these very same people that are going to get you noticed by the hundreds of potential sponsors out there.

These folks (...your current and past customers) have demonstrated to you that they believe in you and are partial to doing business with you. IGNORE THEM at your own PERIL! Do not make the mistake of thinking that they will continue to come back to do business with you no matter what.

(Now I know you might be reading this thinking: "Yeah - yeah. Take good care of your customers. Got it. But what the heck does that have to do with my GETTING a SPONSOR?")

In a word.... EVERYTHING!

At the end of the day, "sponsors" don't really care a whit about you. They don't care what you can say, sing or sell. They only care about ONE THING and one thing only - and that's what you can do for THEM!

And here's what you can do: you can give them lots of quality access to your "herd" - your group of members, your readers, audience, exhibitors and other sponsors.

But you can't do that if you don't take good care of your customers and keep them coming back for more -- and more often. And you can't deliver maximum value (...and therein charge maximum fees....!) if you don't track and identify who your members/readers/customers are.

It's not enough to say, "I've got 2,000 subscribers". That's good --- but it's not good enough. "Who ARE these subscribers? Anyone I (your potential sponsor...) would be interested in reaching? Are these MY type of customers?"

What do you KNOW about your customers?

Who are these people that support your business?

Most likely you might know their names, their address, and maybe even their email addresses. However, beyond that -- most of you might be admitting to yourself that you really have no clue as to who your customers are!

Don't worry; fact is most companies have NO idea who their customers are. But you can imagine that if I were looking at sponsoring your speaking tour or your annual association gathering - I'd want to gain as much "insight" into your herd as possible. After all, the more I know about them, the more I know if they might be a good group for me to tap into, right?

So get busy ... find out who your customers are. Start right now!

Start asking a few simple questions at opportune times (say... when they order, visit your website or call in). Take advantage of every opportunity you can to ask specific, direct questions of your customers.

(TIP: And tailor those questions to garner useful information that would be pertinent to the prospective sponsorship categories you're going to be pursuing. For instance, if you run a club of marathon runners and you're going to go after running-related sponsors (i.e. shoes, training gear, isotonic drinks, etc.), "survey" your club members asking them to identify how many pairs of running shoes they own (for instance), and which brands do they usually buy? For sore muscles ... which ointment do they use, or pain reliever do they prefer? Compile that information and use it! It's GOLD!)

In closing, let me share with you one of the very best things one of my marketing mentors taught me years ago. Like most people, I was always thinking that the reason you get a CUSTOMER is to get a SALE. Right?

Well he turned me around when he taught me that the REAL reason you want to get a SALE ... is to get a CUSTOMER! Make a sale and you can eat for a day.... but once you can make a CUSTOMER ...you can eat forever!!

Ron Seaver, president of Seaver Marketing Group and The National Sports Forum, and author of "Brought to you By... - The Ultimate Sponsorship Sales System" has over twenty-five years of experience in the field of marketing and sponsorship.

photo cred via flickr: world bank photo