You must never underestimate the importance of keeping in touch with your business contacts. The easiest and least expensive customers come from repeat business and referrals. Did you know that the cost of acquiring a new customer is ten times more than retaining or re-engaging a previous or existing customer. Many small business owners and professionals spend too much time chasing cold prospects instead of looking after the contacts that they already have! It doesn’t take much effort, at all, to send one note a year just to say “thank you” for being a valued customer, but this can often get overlooked.
To keep in touch it is imperative to have a good follow-up system in place which can include one or all of the methods described below. These are effective when used properly but there can be some drawbacks…..
Calling all your customers can be extremely time-consuming and sometimes frustrating as it is often difficult to get hold of people. This is sometimes made more difficult by the receiver of the call viewing it as an intrusion or interruption if they don’t need your particular service, at the time of the call, which can often be deflating.
Due to people’s e-mail boxes being flooded on a daily basis, e-mail is increasingly unopened, and it can be at the mercy of spam filters. It is also often ineffective due to its impersonal nature. Did you know that over 80% of e-mail is deleted without being read? Unless you know that someone prefers this method of communication, it is not good to rely on only e-mail for your marketing follow-up plan.
Did you know that the average person receives 41 lbs of junk mail per year (approx. 560 pieces) and 85% of mail received today is unsolicited? More often than not it isn’t personalised and feels like it was sent out en masse. The response rate is extremely low, however, if it is personalised response rates increase hugely.
Like direct mail, text messages are often sent out en masse and can feel very impersonal. Unless it is done in a personal way, texts can often go ignored. Unless you have ascertained, early on when dealing with a customer, that this is their preferred method of communication I, personally, would not recommend this as a long-term follow-up strategy.
To make it even easier for yourself, when you start your relationship with a new prospect simply ask them the question of how they would prefer you to stay in touch with them, i.e. phone, e-mail, text or post. Then, from the start of your working relationship with them, you already know the best way of keeping in contact with them in order to ensure you stay in touch.
The first process in Relationship Marketing is to develop a personal touch. Without this you are not going to get any further! Developing a personal touch requires you to have gratitude for the customers you already have and to express that gratitude through the use of appreciative words ON A REGULAR BASIS.
Once you see the true value of appreciating your customers, you need to get to know them. Start by ensuring you have a database with all your customers’ information on which you can access, at any time, either virtually or physically.
You then need to ensure you get to know something about each customer that you can document in your database. This could be their partner’s first name, how many children they have and their names, a favourite product that they simply can’t live without or a holiday they were due to take. By taking the time to find out this type of personal information, you are building a relationship with the customer which is something that many of your competitors will be overlooking to do.
When you have this information ensure that you make a note of it in your database, straight away, so it isn’t forgotten. Then there are a number of ways that you can use it in the future when contacting them. For example, it is really powerful when, at a future meeting, you can ask after their partner including the use of their partner’s first name – this is something that will always impress.
Finally, you need to implement a strategy to decide when and how you want to follow-up with these business contacts, to show that you appreciate them more than just a paying client. Remember the key to Relationship Marketing is to add that personal touch. It isn’t the time to showcase your latest product. However, it is the time to show how much you value their custom and that you care about them, without any other agenda.
You may choose to send New Year’s cards rather than Christmas cards. You may also elect to send a card on their birthday or the anniversary of them becoming your customer. You may also choose to send them a card when they have reached a certain milestone within their own business, to show your care. Alternatively, you might send a note just to simply say ‘thank you’ for being a valued customer.
Once you have planned how often you are going to keep in touch, select the means by which you are going to use to follow-up. My chosen method is to use greeting cards, but you may choose an alternative method. Whatever, you choose, you must put a system in place to ensure this happens on a regular basis.
I hope this post has got you thinking about your current strategy and if it needs improvement. If I can be of any help please do get in touch or comment below.
More tips to follow. Until next time,