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Are you being naughty or nice – to yourself?

Santa-list

At this time of year, we’re reminded that Santa makes a list (he even checks it twice).

Many people have shopping lists – for groceries during most of the year; presents during this holiday season.

And most entrepreneurs and business owners are constantly making – and hopefully completing – “To Do” lists.

But one thing most business owners are sorely lacking is a list of customers and prospects with which they communicate regularly and build an ongoing relationship.

And that’s a shame.

Building and improving such a list is what makes all the difference between a transactional business and a relationship-based one – between one where the business owner must always wonder where his or her next sale is coming from and one with long-term security and value based on systems.

All sharp marketers know that “the money is in the list” (and more accurately, in the relationship with the list).

Yet the overwhelming majority of business owners refuse to realize this truth.

Think about it…

When’s the last time you enjoyed a great dining experience, and the restaurant was actually savvy enough to collect your name and contact information?

How often do you walk into and out of a retail store, sometimes even shopping for a significant amount of time, without anyone asking how they can keep in touch with you? (Someone always asks “Can I help you?” – but unfortunately they’re really only referring to that one visit.)

How many websites do you visit and leave without ever being asked to enter your email address (or asked in a thoroughly non-compelling way)?

All are prime examples of businesses run by people who don’t get it.

You want to make sure that isn’t you.

Actually, don’t worry if that is you right now – it used to be me. It’s not your fault; you’ve probably never been taught where the true wealth is in any business. Ask any business owner what his best assets are, and he’ll likely talk about things like his employees, or his equipment, or the money in his bank account.

Yes, it’s certainly true that all of those are valuable, but if a sharp businessperson lost all of those, she would get them all back sure enough – if she were only able to keep her list.

If you get the opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap during this holiday season, you should ask for a list of your ideal prospects with whom you’ve built a great relationship.

But if you don’t find one all nicely packaged and wrapped under your tree, you should make it a priority for yourself in the coming year to concentrate your efforts on building and growing not only a sizeable list of your ideal prospects, but developing a strong relationship with them.

Will that take work? You bet it will. But by investing your time, money and effort into it, by the time next year’s holiday season rolls around you’ll be able to buy all the fancy presents you want – for your loved ones, and for yourself.

And that’s my holiday wish for you.

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