I witness crimes happening in business all the time. One of the most common crimes is committed by businesses that mean well, and even do great work, but fail to add any value to the lives of their customers outside of whatever product or service they sell. Tell me if this sounds familiar: you’re doing business with a company and it’s a great experience. You’re happy with your purchase and satisfied with the services. One week after making the purchase, you get the bill… which you promptly pay. Now, one of two things is going happen at this point: A) you never hear from them again… which is tragic, or B) you get emails and direct mail pieces, but every communication is a sales message.
Companies that operate under option B remind me of an in-law of mine. The only time he calls me is when he wants something, be it money or help. You likely have a person like that in your life as well—you know the one I’m talking about; when you see their name pop up on your caller ID, you know a request for a favor or a “loan” is coming your way. You try to duck and dodge this person, but they always seem to track you down. If I didn’t know and better, I would wonder if the GPS on my phone was being tracked.
Now that I have annoyed you at the thought of your special someone, let me ask you for a favor… Just kidding! But really, isn’t this exactly how most businesses operate? Businesses send bills to request money, and they send ads or other sales material to request business! If you’re a doctor, maybe you send a recall card, but that is still a request for a patient to spend more money with you.
When so many businesses act like the special someone we all try to avoid, is it any wonder that customers don’t refer as much as we would like, defect to the competition, or simply stop coming around?
To win lifelong customers who love to refer and will happily spend more money with you and your business, you have to focus on helping and entertaining both customers and prospects.
You may have guessed that I’d recommend a monthly print newsletter that focuses on building relationships with your customers and prospects. This article isn’t about newsletters, but while I’m on the subject, I need to make one major point: if you want to fail with a newsletter, all you have to do is not be personal and talk entirely about your business.
One common question I get about building a relationship with customers and prospects is, “What is the right amount of frequency?” With the newsletter, you MUST mail monthly. We have tried quarterly and it simply doesn’t work. To prove it to you, all I have to do is ask you a question: How many good relationships do you have with people you only speak to once per quarter? To put it another way, if your special someone sent you a note once a quarter, would it change how you felt about them?
With our email marketing, we send a relationship-building piece weekly. That piece gets a 30 to 45 percent open rate each week. We also get many nice notes and emails from people letting us know how much they enjoy getting our emails.
Today there are so many options for places to do business; you must work on building relationships and helping improve the lives of both customers and prospects if you plan on winning in the long term.