By Mark Brodsky

Email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with past clients and prospects, but it’s not enough. You must also continue to build your list by adding new people all the time. Hopefully, you’re already doing this online. What about asking “offline” (the good old-fashioned way)?

The key word here is ask. Very few people are going to volunteer to be added to your mailing list, but when you ask, most people will say “yes”.  The catch when asking in real life is that under the anti-spam legislation, you must document when and where you got permission.



The easiest way to do this is to use an email marketing system that offers a “double-opt-in”. This means that when someone enters their email address, they’ll receive a confirmation email from the system asking them to click “yes”. This way, the system will document it. Otherwise you must keep track manually and that can be challenging.

So how and where should you ask? I’m glad you asked!

  1. Whenever you’re exchanging business cards, make it a habit to ask people if you can add them to your mailing list. If you send them an interesting welcome email, there’s a good chance they’ll remain on your list.
  2. Open houses are a great way to build your database; people are meeting you so there’s a good connection. To encourage people to give you a real email address, you can offer to send them something. For example, send them information on the new mortgage rules or the top things they need to know about buying or selling in this market. If you can get people to sign up on an iPad, that’s great and will save you some paperwork. Otherwise, just put out a professional looking sign-up sheet and ask them to write out their email address. Check that it is legible before they go!
  3. At an open house, or a trade show or conference, you could hold a giveaway in which you collect business cards in a bowl for a chance to win a prize. However, make sure that the language on a sign is clear so people know they’re agreeing to join your mailing list. Again, document where and when they gave you their card.

I hope those ideas will help you build your mailing list, so you can spread the word about your business even wider. Next time, I’ll be featuring some ideas on how to build your network online.