How you can attract, retain and extend your relationship with customers.
by Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE
Frippicisms on Sales and Marketing strategy
• It is not your client’s job to remember you, it is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don’t forget you.
• The real sale comes after the sale.
• Your best customer is the hottest prospect for your competitors.
• Your efforts have to be ongoing and consistent.
I’m always taken aback when someone asks me how much time I devote to marketing. Every single thing we do is marketing. Talking to strangers at seminars or group meetings or even in elevators or taxis is marketing. Customer service is part of marketing. I am an unabashed, relentless, promoter of my services and products. I get the drive from the love I have for my business.
Here are a few suggestions on how you can attract, retain and extend your relationship with customers.
If you want to improve your marketing efforts, you need to attend seminars, read books and articles on marketing. Talk to colleagues (a professional friend with whom you share target markets but don’t sell the same product or service) about how they attract and retain their customers. It’s important to accept that many of the tips and techniques may not be appropriate for you. However, if you open your mind, you’ll come up with aversion of the idea that may be perfect for you and your business.
Don’t overlook the effectiveness of the “schmooze factor.” That’s just talking and having fun with customers. I experienced a good example of the schmooze factor with a Super Shuttle driver recently. I won’t drive in silence in elevators or taxis (unless I’m getting unusual vibes from passengers) so I always ask them if they’re going or coming from somewhere fun. Well, the driver jumped into the conversation and kept it lively and wonderfully entertaining for the entire 40 minutes to the airport. We all tipped her at least double what we would have because she made it so much fun. Be sure that when you schmooze you keep the talk casual and fun without getting the least bit inappropriate or disrespectful.
Don’t let your customers forget you-keep in touch with them consistently. One or two months after a sale write your customers a note and ask them how they are enjoying their purchase. Call or write again on the anniversary of their purchase. If you see something in a periodical that you think your customers would be interested in send them a copy of it along with a note. Write a regular newsletter. Be sure to include information that will be of value to them as well as news about you and your latest products/services and charges. If you’ve not gone hi-tech, immediate create (or have someone do it for you) a website on the Internet. You’ll reach people you might not have expected. This is a great equalizer in business, you can be perceived as a lot larger company than you are. It also works as a sales and marketing person 24 hours a day and never asks for overtime!
Give your customers something valuable they’ll keep. I’m talking about those little specialty-advertising items on which you have your name printed. I have a little laminated wallet-sized-card listing 15% and 20% tips. It’s a wonderfully handy little item to carry in your wallet and – it has my address, phone number, and Website information on it. Meet with an advertising specialty firm to see what items such as this will be helpful to your customers. What items would be valuable to them that they would keep on their desks, wallets, kitchens, etc.? They’ll see your name often and when they want to reach you, they can simply take your number off that refrigerator magnet or highlighter market you gave them.
When I owned my hairstyling salon, I trained my stylists to ask their customers if they wanted to set their next haircut appointment. I explained that it’s part of our service to keep their hair looking its best. What can you do to remind your customers when it’s time to consider your service/product again?
Have you ever given a stack of your business cards to friends or customers for them to distribute? How often do you think the cards actually get distributed? I don’t leave anything to chance. When I was in the hairstyling business, with each haircut, I always gave my clients three of my business cards. “One for you, two for the next two people who tell you how good you look.” Two cards are easier, and more likely to be hand out than a handful. And you’re asking them to give your card only to those who ask about his/her haircut. Even if you don’t have a hairstyling business, how can you make this technique work for you?
Remember life is a series of sales situations. No matter how successful your business is, don’t stop marketing. You have to keep convincing your customers that with you they will get the best and memorable service.