Now "wooing" is standard practice when looking for love, but for some reason we forget these sort of simple rules when looking for customers. We want them to "buy now" and "act now" - so that we're essentially asking for commitment before they've even met us. And when customers are in cautious buying mode, as they are in the economy, this sort of strategy is even more risky.
So if you're looking for a "new relationship" with a customer, be prepared to do a little wooing first. Don't make their first steps with you ones that will cost them money...as this will ultimately cost you MORE money as they're less likely to actually buy anything.
I saw a great example of wooing in action in an online campaign by career one. (The original is actually an animation, so you see about 5 screens, but you'll get the gist from these couple of screen shots.)
What is smart about this campaign is that it's tapping into something many people in their thirties and forties are feeling: Am I on the right path? Is this the right job for me? What else could I be doing to feel more fulfilled?
Then it's getting people involved with the career one brand, without asking them to spend any money on an advertisement or post their resume on a site. But it will be building their database, as you'd need to input your email no doubt to get a result.
So it's also giving something away - a "free" assessment of whether you're in the right job - and in return is getting a name (and some prospect profiling). Thus, it's laid some solid groundwork from which to build that ongoing relationship.
Whilst this campaign is obviously not zero budget, that doesn't mean there's nothing to learn from it. If you're in the business of selling a service, you'd be able to replicate an offer like this, and what you'd be spending is your time. You could then promote it via your existing communications channels - your website, your database, your staff, you're various social networking channels.