With infrequent communication, even your closest friends will forget about you- let alone those you count on for business. So, why is it we so often fail to communicate frequently with those who have chosen to do business with us and instead, focus our efforts entirely on cultivating new clients?
The example that always sticks in my mind as being a perfect example of this business failure is a woman we’ll call Agnes. During a business gathering she related to me her total frustration of how she had recently attended a cocktail party where she encountered a longtime family friend whom had previously done business with her travel agency. She said when she saw the man he exclaimed, “Oh, my gosh, I wish I would have thought about you. My salesmen are doing more travel now and I was draining my brain to know who might be able to handle all the travel for me.”
Naturally excited at the prospects of working with him Agnes graciously responded, “Well, I’d love to help you with that.”
“Oh, that’s okay,” the man responded. “I’ve already got it taken care of.”
“Really?” Agnes questioned. “Who?”
“Oh, there’s this travel agency that I pass every day when I drive to work and I got them to handle it.”
The prominent sign at that travel agency had subtly, yet effectively communicated to that man each and every day as he drove past it. When he was pressed to think about whom he could call, it was the agency that came to his mind rather than Agnes. But why? As Agnes expressed with anger, “Can you imagine? Our family has known this man all my life; he’s known me since I was a child and was well aware that I was in the travel business.”
I asked Agnes one simple question—“When was the last time you communicated with him?” As you may have guessed by now, she had not had any communication with him for a long while.
Therein Lies the Problem
All too often we fail to communicate with any frequency with the people most important to our business—our clients/customers. Instead we focus our efforts on getting that next new client/customer and expecting our existing clients to simply remember us when they need our services/products.
Don’t count on it. It’s not always going to happen. A prospect may be at high noon when you first approach her but once you’ve landed her you’d better have communicated often enough to be on her radar or, just like Agnes’ friend, she’ll do business with someone else.
Communicating with Clients: What to Do
Few things beat face-to-face meetings when you’re trying to maintain momentum in building a memorable relationship. But, even then, it’s important to do something to stand out from the rest of the competition who may also come calling face-to-face. Here are a few ways to keep in front of clients (and prospects) to help you stand out:
- Send a non-traditional greeting. Be creative. There are food holidays, career holidays, pet holidays, and even weird holidays. There are even whole months dedicated to a variety of things. Tie the holiday greeting to something meaningful to the client/prospect. For example if you know your client loves her cat, select holidays that involve cats. Or if they happen to be a big fan of margaritas, did you know that February 22 is National Margarita Day? There’s a wealth of resources to help you. Most importantly, stay away from traditional holidays where you will just land in a pile with everyone else’s greetings.
- Clip articles. Watch for articles that are about specific things in which you know your client has an interest. Attach a handwritten note and send it along.
- Take treats. Freshen up a personal visit by taking along an individual boxed treat like fancy cupcakes, cookies or a special type of candy. It doesn’t have to be big—it’s the thought that counts.
- Remember special dates. Use any number of today’s tools to keep track of special dates like birthdays, anniversaries, or any other dates you know to be special for that client. For the past 20 plus years I get a happy anniversary email from a man I once did a lot of business with, yet haven’t for many years. But guess what—I’ve referred clients to him because he’s always top of mind.
These are just a few mind-joggers to get you thinking. Once you think about it it’s likely you’ll come up with some novel ideas of your own. Remember, people do business with people they like. What can you do to enhance your likeability? It all starts with truly knowing and understanding the needs of your clients so you can personalize your communication with them and help them to see that beyond merely selling to them, you are a person they can rely on as a resource and problem solver to help them efficiently and effectively grow their business.