I'm always taken aback when someone asks me how much time I devote to marketing. Every single thing I 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 this 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 a version 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 don't ride 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. 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.
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 gone hi-tech, create (or have someone do it for you) a web page on the Internet. You'll reach people you might not have expected. Email me at PFripp@Fripp.com to receive Fripp news. It is a non-commercial, entertaining, information rich, on-line column. Every time you receive business ideas from me, also ask yourself "What have I done today to keep in touch with my clients and prospects?"
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 laminated wallet-sized card listing 15% and 20% tips for up to $100. It's a wonderfully handy item to carry in your wallet and-it has my name, e-mail address, website and 800 number. Meet with an advertising specialty firm to see what items would be valuable enough your customers would keep them on their desks, in their 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 highlighting marker you gave them.
When I had my hairstyling salon, I trained my stylists to ask their customers if they wanted to set their next haircut appointment. It was 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. 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 to three cards are easier, and more likely to be given out than a handful. You're asking your clients 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?
I cannot stress enough, keep talking, reading, studying marketing till your head hurts. Don't expect to remember or even use all that your hear or read. However, you'll find a few of those ideas can be adapted successfully just for you and your business. 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 deal and memorable service.
Patricia Fripp CSP, CPAE is a San Francisco-based professional speaker on Change, Teamwork, Customer Service, Promoting Business, and Communication Skills. To learn more about Patricia, as well as save 20% when you order her audio/video programs Million Dollar Words: Speaking for Results, Preparing and Presenting Powerful Programs and/or Confessions of an Unashamed, Relentless Self-Promoter, go to YourSuccessStore.com.