Your Favorite Tip for Contact Lists < Deep Thought Thursday

Have you had an aha moment about using your contact list?
Do you love your contact list software?
Are you convinced your organizing system is tops?

What do you wish you would have known years ago about contact lists?

Share your successes (and failures) re your contact list.

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27 comments to Your Favorite Tip for Contact Lists < Deep Thought Thursday

  • I tried making a contact list last year. It was a horrible, disappointing, and frustrating endeavor. And this despite my being a person who enjoys making lists. I suspect because it isn’t so much a Contact List as it is a Contact Database (which requires a lot more thought put to its design than merely a list requires).

    • Patricia: So, it was the database that was difficult?

      • Yes, very much so, both technically and philosophically (as it were). Between the latter which was a product of my own lack of experience in planning a contact list database and the former which was the product of lack of experience with databases in general, the whole thing was an overwhelming disaster.

  • I’m loving gmail. The contacts list is searchable and backed up online. No losing valuable contacts when your computer crashes! It links to my android phone and, like most email systems, you can download your contact list for use elsewhere!

    Best of all it’s free – very important if you’re on a tight budget!

    Not on commission, honest!

    • Cathy: Do you keep addresses for people in gmail? Snail mail addresses? And do you have your own backup?

      • Snailmail Addresses, email, phone numbers and notes. Even birthdays and custom fields. You can group into galleries, suppliers, art groups etc and can have more than one group per contact.
        You can export as Google CSV, Outlook CSV or vcards for Apple and import similar. Takes a few seconds.

  • W.A.C.

    Another entry on contact lists. This blog used to be original and interesting but it seems as though this person is too busy to post anything new anymore. Anyway, I have a question – what if you live somewhere without a lot of connections. Does it matter if your contact list is only 20 – 30 people, what is the best way to grow it?

    Any ideas would be appreciated.

    • WAC: In my defense, I did warn you that it was Contact List Week on the blog – twice.

      You know a lot more than 20-30 people. Start collecting info from everyone you know.

  • This is really great for “us” first timers to your website. Thank you for revisiting this subject. I’m keenly interested in the answers you receive here as I was looking at your database management software recommendations and concerned that I wouldn’t be able to handle my email lists effectively with them. I’m meeting next week with a saavy online marketer for their suggestions. Hope to see how people here handle their email blasts.

  • AB

    My “aha” moment was when I realized that little by little, all of my artist “friends” had asked to be taken off of my list – that’s both post and e-mail.

  • Hi, thanks so much for your blog. It’s so helpful and inspiring. But I have to admit the idea of making a contact list makes me cringe. Remind me why, as an artist, I really need one? Is it the idea that customers who have commissioned or bought my art will maybe buy again?

  • W.A.C.

    I need to dig deeper. I am in resistance because I know most of the people (not that many really) I know don’t want to be bothered or sold anything. Is there a good way to find collectors in your area? Should I be hanging around other art shows taking names? It’s ironic I can feel so creative painting and drawing but then so completely uncreative marketing myself. UGh!! Ok…I’ll save this for my therapist.

    • I so relate. I love to paint but feel very lacking in marketing abilities! I’m glad that there are people like Alyson around to encourage us.

  • Alyson, I have your book. Read it twice and use it everyday to grow my business. Thanks for all the knowledge!

    I use the Address Book that came with my Mac. It has plenty of space for notes. etc. We use the same program at my 9 to 5 job, so I was familiar with it. I would live to get Filemaker, which we use at work also, but it is way outside my budget.

    Diane

    • Hi Diane – For $49 you can get Bento 4, which is a lite version of filemaker. I started using it recently and really like it. It links to your mac address book, so you don’t have to do all the data entry to get started, and you only have to update one or the other – they will sync. Also lets you do inventory, sync with iphoto, etc…
      Good luck!

  • Hi Alyson,
    Having fully parked my art career in a sense, laser focus on the publishing company, something BRILLIANT happened this last week.

    Here is what I wish someone had told me YEARS ago, find ways for other people to help build your list. To wit, you’re an artist, what can you literally GIVE away that is (cheap and easy) in exchange for a contact? Let others do this for you, and garner THEIR list in the process.

    My publishing contact list grew by a factor of 15x doing this! I can’t wait to do it again.
    -Steve info (at) heartpress (dot) com
    PS, here. let me show you a dynamic example how easy it is. No, this is an example, to go 15x you’ve got to think bigger than a comment post like this. Anyway: send me an email address and I’ll send you a coupon code to get these for FREE:
    Currently Number Six on their Bestseller list:
    http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/53084
    and at Number 30:
    http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/57884

    • Not a fan of this, Steve. I would never give you a name on my list without the other person’s permission.

      • This is a coordinated effort Alyson. If I could figure out how your audience and my publish audience intersect, would benefit, like a Book Blog Tour does with multiple authors, where everyone giving up their email address gets a free book, your audience may happily do this.

        I would never ask you to give up the names, that would be a BIG violation of trust – I’m talking about cross marketing to your audience.

        Hooking up with Carolyn McCray’s 40,000 fans was a BIG deal, we gave away *tons* of books to her audience, to people interested in the ours.

  • jeffreywp

    Hi Alyson!
    Curious … should I include everybody in a ‘Welcome!’ email that basically introduces why I am emailing them AND explicitly tells them what I plan on doing with their email address?

    Technically, since they didn’t opt-in I figure this would be my foot-in-the-door opportunity. I’d have them reply to me should they want to be removed. Am I understanding the process correctly?

    Thanks for your insights!

    • Jeffrey: So sorry for the delay in getting to this.

      Oona has a take on this below and it’s a safe take.

      Technically, you could do as you propose if you already have a relationship with those people. But don’t put ANYONE on the list who wouldn’t recognize your name immediately.

      It’s important to recognize the difference between a contact list (address keeper) and a mailing list.

  • W.A.C.: Your contact list is the list of the people you know (or want to get to know), not necessarily the list of people your trying to sell to.

    Jeffrey: Your contact list is NOT the same as the list of subscribers of your email newsletter. What you propose sounds like a very bad idea.

  • “Ah-ha Moment”: People who have purchased my artwork in the past are delighted to be contacted! Here are some excerpts from emails that I’ve received after getting back in touch with a collectors:

    Good to hear from you. Yes, both of the pictures you posted, plus several small ones, are beautifully displayed… Please stay in touch.

    …it has been displayed on a floor easel in our “big room” for many years. It is one of our favorites because it is such a perfect reminder of many happy trips to the Central Coast wine area. I feel as though I can step into the painting at any time and “be there.”

    …The painting also has a special meaning for my wife and me because I proposed to her on the deck of a small wine bar located on Stearns Wharf (subject of painting) … I look at the painting and it brings back some very fond memories of living in Santa Barbara. Thank you so very much…

  • My ‘aha’ moment came when I realized that my contact list was a list of friends, some I knew, and some I haven’t met yet. This is also my marketing plan – not to bother or to sell, but to make friends…who might also buy a painting some day.
    Btw, I use Art Tracker from Xanadu Gallery.

  • thanks for revisiting this alyson. from what i have read here, and what i USED to think, people are wondering why you are repeating this. well, oddly enough, i certainly need to be reminded of this often. a lot. more than you know. because i hate doing it, but it is oh so important! just today (how weird) i was re-activating my constant contact subscription – a great online-based tool for emailing to your database of contacts without any risk of spamming people. it is totally secure (safe unsubscribe, and no-selling to 3rd parties, etc), and very professional looking. it’s inexpensive and you get a report showing who has viewed your email, how many times and when, and whether they clicked on your link to your website from the email.
    anyway, i needed to hear this today, and i’m so glad you encourage me, alyson. thanks a bunch!

  • Here are a few of my observations and practices:
    1. Build your list one name at a time. Ask every person that visits your studio for their email address. Always ask “Would it be OK if I added your email to my list. I send out emails 4- 6 times per year….
    2. I tried suggesting that people should go to my website and sign up but that never works. Better to add them yourself. I went to effort to allow people to sign up for my mailing list on the site but nobody has ever used it.
    3. Consider Vertical Response they have a different pricing structure vs Constant Contact.
    4. Capture snailmail addresses of all those who have purchased your art. These are the A list so you may need to send them something special. Otherwise I am primarily going to stick with email announcements instead of expensive postcards.
    5. Back it up electronically and print a copy.