Effective Client Communication
Whether you know it or not, your database of current and past clients is your best source of new clients. "Prospecting" for a new client is time consuming and expensive. If you can find a way to increase your sales without the time commitment and expense of cold calling, mass direct mail, advertising or purchasing leads, would you be willing to implement it? Of course, you would.
Taking the time and effort to keep in contact with past clients will grow your business through new direct sales to the client and generating referrals to qualified prospects.
Often salespeople complain that keeping in touch with past clients takes too much time, effort, and money. Considering the return on investment, this really is not trueâ¬"at least for most salespeople. The key is finding a way to communicate that is time efficient, relatively inexpensive, and effective.
Studies indicate that in order to keep your name at the top of your customer's mind, you need to "touch" your customer a minimum of 14 times per yearâ¬"more if at all possible.
What is a "touch?" A touch is any communication from you to your clientâ¬"email, telephone call, snail mail, postcard, holiday card, in-person meeting, or any other method of getting in front of your customer. If you are communicating with the client, you are touching them.
What is the most effective way to touch your past clients? Studies have shown that there is not a "best" way to touch the client, but rather, the most effective client communication programs enlist a number of communication formats.
Sending 14 emails, a year is better than nothing, but it is not the best way. Neither would be sending 14 snail mail pieces. Or, making 14 phone calls. Nor, sending 14 postcards during the course of the year. However, constructing a campaign using a combination of these methods could be a very effective program. For instance, setting a marketing calendar to send 4 postcards per year, 6 emails, 2 snail mail letters, one phone call, and one holiday card during the course of the year allows you to touch your client approximately once every 3 Â½ weeks during the course of the year.
But, what do you send? What do you say 14 times during the course of the year? The content of your communication is just as important as the fact that you sent something. When you communicate with a past client, the fact that you have something in front of a previous customer is not necessarily a good thing, in and of itself.
Many traditional marketers will disagree. Much traditional thinking says that any time you get your name in front a client it is a good thing. However, is a 3-second trip to the trash for your expensive postcard or letter best the use of your money?
Whether or not your communication campaign is effective will depend on what you are communicating. If you send junk, just to send something, your customer will quickly learn to ignore you and your communications and everything you send will take that 3-secnd trip to the trash. On the other hand, if your communications offer something of interest and value, you will train your client to pay attention to you.
Which would you rather have: a client that ignores you, or one that pays attention to you?
I assume you would rather have a client that pays attention to you. To train your clients to pay attention, and, therefore, to keep you at the top of their mind, you must figure out how to send them communications that give them value. Can you offer a special for them or someone they refer to you? Can you provide them an annual or semi-annual update on their purchase? Can you send or email them articles of interest that relate to their purchase or an interest of theirs? What you send does not have to be large or costlyâ¬"it just needs to be of interest to the client.
A program such as this requires thought and considerable customization of content, but the payoff can be enormous. Think about what you are sending and what it willâ¬"or will notâ¬"communicate about you and your business. If you want your clients to think of you and not ignore you, then take the time and the effort to make sure you are sending value. If you are not sure it has value, it probably does not. Marketing to your client database should be at the top of your "to do" list and your campaign should be constructed with the thought and care as if you were marketing to the most important people in the world, because for you, they are.