After being in business part-time nearly 14 months, I have built my email list to 317 primary contacts at various businesses. Finding email addresses of small business owners has proved difficult and time consuming in my area. Several years ago (2005) when I sold insurance it was much easier. I was able to get that information from the membership directory at the local Chamber of Commerce; however, they changed a couple years later to an online contact form and then later removed completely in order to reduce spam for their members. I could dial, but I work 8-5 pm, so everything is after hours, thus email is the best and cheapest solution for me. I am also afraid to buy leads, since I have not verified the contacts, addresses change and it is costly. I am trying to bootstrap my business.
I use a form letter, but send one at a time and personalize with the names in order to get past spam rules. The letter is very simple and quick to read. I want everything in the first couple of sentences so the potential client can read and decide whether to take action. Using this, I have only received 2 unsubscribe responses. See my letter below:
Mr. or Mrs. Name of Contact,Tax season opens Monday for efiling, let me know if I can help you prepare your business or individual returns. I also perform bookkeeping and payroll services.Thank you,My Business NameMy Phone NumberMy P.O. BoxI work full-time as a controller for a large food service company in My City and part-time as a controller for a hospital in the area. I am trying to build my tax practice, thus the email. If you do not want any future emails, please reply unsubscribe. If you have any questions, please let me know.
Sending emails helped me land my largest account, the hospital. While the hospital is very small, 25 beds, I have been asked by several people if I can prepare their tax returns this year.
My letter may not be the best, especially if you are a copywriter, so please share any samples or suggestions in the comments. My conversion rate would be 0.3% considering I only landed one client, but if that one client brings in $2-3K, I am happy with the results.