As your business expands and your client base grows larger, it can be easy to lose touch with those clients that have helped you build your business from the ground up. You cannot let this happen! In this blog, learn how to cultivate long lasting relationships with your clients that make them feel more like friends.
"For organizations to stay on top of information, -and more importantly to successfully innovate in this environment- they need to have scalable network relationships."~Francine Gordon
Francine raises a good point, not just about customers but about business partners, prospects, co-workers, etc. You have to put in time to keep these relationships, just like you would with your friends and family members. This means staying in contact on a regular basis. As human beings, we make mistakes. We forget thing and that's just a part of how the brain works. We can't help it. In this blog, I will discuss how to create a system that helps you stay in contact with important people in a way that is not a nuisance to them.
Organizing Your Client Base
"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others."~African Proverb
Entrepreneurs need to know how to go with ideal clients, employees, and business partners, in order to go far in business. For a healthy relationship, constant touch and resourcefulness is KEY. We covered understanding your ideal client in the profiling blog and, through the profiling process; you should have all of the required inputs about your ideal clients. Now, let's focus on communicating to stay in front of them and establish a healthier relationship. I suggest organizing your clients into 3 groups; C15, C30, and C45. C stands for "connection" and 15, 3o, and 45 represents the number of interval days between connections.
C15, C30, and C45 Client Groupings
These are the groupings that I use. How you want to categorize you client groups is up to you. Use your common sense to determine how and when you should connect with each clients and how you will group them. Pick some criteria from the inputs that you gathered during profiling. Create your contact list using the groupings that you created from above. This will help you remember when to contact clients.
Use Technology to Remind You to Connect
Start simple with and Outlook or CRM reminder. Set your reminders for each group to help you to track new members and connect with your ideal clients at the right intervals. Remember that you can use different types of media to connect with your clients. Refer to my blog about the ABC method for more information. E-mail, social media, regular mail, telephone, and postcards are just a few different types of media that you can use to stay connected with your clients without being bothersome. Content is KEY. Don't sell, sell, sell. Be genuine in your contact! Use the 80:20 method when communicating with ideal clients. That means 80% useful content, fun, and friendly conversation and 20% business.
"Everyone hears only what he understands"~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Always Be Connected
"It's not the (social media) tools themselves inspire trust and collaboration. We use them as a medium to connect, and thus generate trust and enthusiasm."~Nancy White
Nancy embodies one of the methods that I like to use to keep in touch with clients called the ABC method: Always Be Connected. Refer to my previous blog on this subject for more information.
- Social Media:Social media is a critical stage in this method as it can be used to always keep your client's mind on your business without ever becoming a nuisance. Every business is unique and social media allows you to be creative and dynamic in this process of staying connected. You can cater to clients' specific needs and keep in touch with them on their terms. At the same time, you can deliver content that shows your service values and encourages ideal clients to spread the word. In this way, a business can grow constantly.
- Direct Message through Social Media:People change their e-mail addresses, sometimes very frequently. They use multiple accounts and may not check them all on a regular basis. However, it is unlikely that they will change their social media profiles. After initial contact, connect through a social media platform. Professionally, LinkedIn is the primary social media outlet. For personal communications, use Facebook.
- What to Share:Use various technologies to listen to what is going on in your industry. Google Alerts, RSS Feeds, and Newsletter subscriptions can help you find interesting articles to send to clients, showing them that you were thinking about them. When you find something, print it out and send it to them with a sticky note that reads a simple "I thought about you while reading this article."
- Thank You Notes:Send thank you notes after initial contact. This may seem like an outdated concept, but it's actually a personal way to keep in touch while staying professional. Most clients will not expect it and feel much appreciated. Send a thank you e-mail as well. It will reach them faster and they will know that you thought of them and appreciate their business immediately after contact. Furthermore, send postcards with tips or useful information at an unexpected time. Clients expect cards on their birthdays or during holidays. Use the time in between to keep their mind on you and maintain the connection.
- Face-to-Face Contact and Networking Events:Don't forget about face-to-face communication. In the age of e-mail, it's normal for people to send messages to those that are down the hall from them and your clients won't fault you for communicating primarily in this way. On the other hand, they will most likely forget about you and feel like one of the many if you are always e-mailing them and you never invite them for face-to-face contact. Ideal clients should be treated like VIPs. Invite them to a networking event that could be beneficial to them. Stay on the lookout for discount tickets to local sporting events or other events that will interest these clients and give them away when you see them. There are 100 different ways to get these kinds of discounted tickets. If you decide to buy them, you will find a way.
- Text Messages and Phone Calls:Communication by one media only is a great way to fade into the background and lose connections. Text your clients with interesting facts. Call them to talk once in a while as a follow up to the text message.
Plan Content and Media
Most importantly, you need to plan to use these medias in your process. Set up a reminder system in your calendar or set up your system to text you with details about ideal clients. Do whatever you have to in order to make sure that you are reminded to keep up with your important connections and ideal clients.
Use photos (or even videos) in your communications to help remind your clients who you are. This will also make things easier and more comfortable if you are cultivating a relationship without meeting in person.
I hope you find this blog interesting and that it helps you stay connected and win more business. Please feel free to contact me by leaving a comment below with your feedback or share your thoughts by e-mail.