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Where are you coming from?

March 31, 2016

In this feature published in 2015, David Connett discusses how, as a publisher, you spend half your time tracking audience statistics and the other half of your time interpreting the statistics. Damn statistics…

David Connett's business cards

David Connett’s business cards

But here are some interesting statistics – on average 37 people a week sign up for The Recycler e-Newsletters. That is nearly 2,000 people in one year. Two people actually signed up on Christmas Day 2014, and in January 2015 over 2,200 visitors were new to [email protected]

But it is just not people that are new to the industry – so are companies – and in 2014 just over 600 new companies either subscribed to our magazine or registered for vouchers to visit [email protected], and in March 2015 while in Dubai, we made 171 new contacts in the Middle East and Africa region.

If you profile the new businesses, you will find that more than 70 percent have been started in the last two to three years. Do a similar profile of the last 100 people to sign up to the newsletters or visiting the shows, and you see an emerging profile:

37 percent are female, an increase of 12 percent on the same period five years ago

  • 10 percent are aged over 55
  • 23 percent are aged 45 to 55
  • 36 percent are aged 35 to 45
  • 25 percent are aged 25 to 35
  • Six percent are aged under 25

The 61 percent in the 25 to 45 age groups are interesting, and significantly higher than five years ago, when this age group represented around 45 percent of newsletter signups.

“But the industry isn’t getting bigger,” I hear you say, and you are sort of half right. People are leaving the industry, and businesses are stopping remanufacturing or closing, but not at the same rate as new entrants.

So what does that mean for you? Well, if you have been around the industry for five or more years, some of the people you knew then may well have left the industry, especially if they were over 50, and they have been replaced with one or two people who are younger, but not necessarily more junior. Last year a director of a large company retired at 63 to open a guest house.

Rather than hire a new director, his job was split between three other people, one of whom was a new hire, and the other two were promoted. If you were dealing with him, then he left, do you know which of the three that share his work you should be talking to?

I collect business cards and check them against our CRM (customer relationship management) system, and always enter or update their details, and I never throw them away, so after 20 years I have boxes of them. Here are some simple checks you can do to see if you are on top of your contacts:

Take any 10 business cards from three years ago from people you have not spoken to in the last six months, and call or email them. If seven or more are still there, that means your churn rate is good, i.e. low.

  1. If it is six or less, take another 10 cards and call or email them. If seven or more are still there, that is great.
  2. If it is six or less,  go back two years and repeat step 1. Again, if there are seven or more, you are doing OK; if it is six or less, your contact base is diminishing.
  3. Go back one year and repeat the exercise. Again, seven is the magic number.
  4. If you send emails to customers, check the out of office replies. When someone is out of the office for more than a few weeks, it is either maternity leave or they might be on gardening leave!
  5. Do the same with your soft and hard email bounces. A soft bounce usually means the inbox is full or the email address is no longer valid. A hard bounce usually indicates the web address is no more – perhaps indicating the business is closed?
  6. Check incoming emails – email addresses and contact information do change, and you should always update your CRM.

You should always look to find lost contacts and find out what they are doing now, and the best way to do that is to use LinkedIn. Find them and ask what they are doing now if it isn’t obvious, and then the most important question: “Who took over from you when you left?” With that gem of information you can probably find the new person on LinkedIn and start a dialogue. You can use Facebook as well, but I find I have more success with LinkedIn.

If you are new to the industry, then the challenge is different because you want to make contacts, and one of the best ways of doing that is to tell your customers and suppliers and the wider industry. Write a press release and send it out to everyone on the company’s email address list, and don’t forget the trade press…

A map showing newsletter sign-ups in one week

A map showing newsletter sign-ups in one week

Visiting trade shows

 I am biased, so I won’t tell you why you should go to a show, but I will share some information with you and use Frankfurt as an example, but it is the same for any show. 92 percent of visitors register in the eight weeks prior to the start of the show, and visitors typically stay two days, so arrive Saturday AM and leave Sunday PM, or arrive Sunday AM and leave Monday PM and the same for Monday and Tuesday. Some stay longer and a few stay shorter.

So if you are looking to engage with people at the show, you need to do your pre-show work in October and November – do your calls, find out if your contact will be at the show, and if they are not going, is someone else going; and make your appointments early. This helps you plan your visit and your programme.

Visitors usually have a meeting agenda: exhibitors to see, seminars to attend, side business with other visitors, and dinner with customers. You need to be on their agenda list long before they register, otherwise the connection doesn’t happen.

If you don’t know anyone, there are still ways to network and make contacts. Contact exhibitors, tell them you are new to the industry and that you are looking for X, Y or Z and they may be able to help, and use the trade associations to source contacts. You should register for the event as early as possible, and if there are any matchmaking or introduction services on offer, make use of them.

Keeping in touch is important; keeping up-to-date is a vital business intelligence activity. But doing nothing is commercial suicide. A five-year-old contact list will be at best 30 to 40 percent accurate, and a three-year-old contact list should be at least 60 percent up-to-date. Contact management should be a high priority, not just personally but throughout the business.

Oh, and while an average of 37 new signups a week is good, sadly 16 people a week either change their email address or exit the business or industry, and don’t tell anyone.

Categories : Special Report

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