It’s more important than ever to nurture your relationships with customers and deepening customer relationships. If yours is a professional services firm, how do you avoid being a nuisance to your clients? How can you deepen your relationship with your customers, ensuring that when the time comes you are front of mind?
Competing with Technology for Customer Attention
“Oh for the good old days”, I hear you say. When you could put a call in or send a card knowing that your client would read and (in most cases) respond to your communiqué. Salespeople referred to this old-fashioned customer-contact as the “doughnut” run. The sales rep would make sure that at a prescribed regular interval they would pay a visit to regular customers. Coca-Cola was famous for it; so was Marlboro, Xerox and a whole host of corporations. Even the life insurance salesman called you on your birthday!
These days with always-on broadband technology a part of our working lives, we are forced to edit out all non-productive, invasive, unsolicited communiqués. We spend more time “binning” email than we do reading the essential ones! Indeed no self-respecting sales organisation worth their salt will accept anything less from their sales reps than “optimal lead conversion”. There is no room for the idle doughnut run in today’s frenetic, productivity-focused corporate life.
Back to Basics with Deepening Customer Relationships
It should come as no surprise to anybody in business or in professional services that we are hungrier for reliable information today than any time before. Not trivia: reliable information. As an illustration of this, note that as the circulation of mass daily newspapers such as the Telegraph (London) are falling, circulation of the authoritative Wall Street Journal is up – strongly. For sure, much of this is attributable to financial market watchers, but it is equally based on people in business seeking authoritative views and news.
If you see yourself as a professional who is of value to your clients or customers put yourself in front of them at every opportunity. And do it methodically, strategically.
Whether they are clients, prospects or introducers, in tough times, people who stay in contact with their database will enjoy success. To grow your business you have to get out of your comfort zone.
It’s easier than ever – phone calls, email, articles or White Papers, greeting cards and postcards, video clips, and books that you can recommend with authority – perhaps with a note about some point in the book – and which would be of interest to the recipient.
The phone call may be a simple call linking back to an earlier formal business-related call but it is, in reality, a “touch”: how are you traveling in these worrying times? Emails too can be linked to a prior matter or simply be a milestone-related contact (birthday, business launch anniversary, new market initiative, etc). In a similar vein, all those old-world yet basic, fundamental touch points – the postcard on a trip, can support and deepen a relationship.
Remember, if you are in the financial services industry, for example, you have seen massive turmoil, unprecedented in the lifetime of most of us. Everyone will welcome intelligent dialogue. Laws and regulations are changing (look at the current review on compulsory super) and regular contact may be essential.
If you have a subject matter expertise then this is the perfect time to introduce new marketing initiatives such as White Papers for deepening those customer relationships. If you don’t have the time or talent to do this keep an eye out for articles of interest and tailor these to the eyes of select clients.
Small Budget – Big Impact
One smart ad agency which traditionally sent out Christmas cards, last year went with the theme Big Ideas, Small Budget. Instead of big Christmas cards, they sent out cards the size of a postage stamp, which got the message out perfectly. Food for thought?