Seven Weeks To A Better Business, Part Seven

By Beacon Staff

Strategy #7 – What we have here is a failure to communicate.

The famous line from the movie “Cool Hand Luke”, right? Well, your business most likely experiences this same failure: Not communicating often enough with your clients. Yeah, I know. You think this is common sense, but it’ll never work for you because “your business is different”, right?

Wrong.

I’ll tell you what. Let me start the same business as yours right down the street, same building, same staff, same everything. You keep on doing what you’re doing now.

Meanwhile, I’ll start sending your clients a monthly newsletter, weekly emails, birthday cards, anniversary cards, reminders about their frequent purchase benefits, calls on special occasions, brief personal notes to them that include recent internet / newspaper articles mentioning them or their kids (etc), and so on.

A year from now, we’ll see who they spend more $ with.

The point is, if you aren’t putting yourself in front of your clients on a regular basis, they aren’t thinking of you. I *do not* mean boring junk issued to you by your corporate parent, if you have one. Yes, corporate compliance folks can be a pain. Deal with it, work around it, do what you have to so that someone else doesn’t take your clients away.

People are busy, forgetful, and without reason to be otherwise, not committed to any particular vendor unless it becomes a habit to go to that vendor. How many visits does it take for your store to become a habit? Figure it out and communicate enough and in a manner that provokes that many visits. Become your clients’ habitual source of products and services.

You have to make it a habit to communicate with your clients and prospects. You have to get people familiar with your story. “I don’t have a story.” is your natural response, I suspect. Actually, you do, you’re just so familiar with it, you think it isn’t interesting. The truth is, people like hearing stories. So…answer the question: “What got you started in this business?” Go from there.

It is common sense, but how many of us use all of our common sense every day? I think you know the answer. Be different. Be a household name to your clients. Position yourself through your interesting, funny or helpful notes, newsletters etc so that clients couldn’t imagine going to anyone else but you.

One last thing: *Don’t* be boring no matter what you do. You want people to look forward to your newsletters, cards, calls, etc. They won’t look forward to boring stuff. Boring stuff won’t make it home from the post office.

You might be saying to yourself “Sounds good, but I have 295 (or 2900 or 29000) customers, how can we do all of this?”

Newsletters – It’s just as easy to send 29 as it is 29000 if you outsource the printing. Printed in addition to email? Why? Listen to the audio to hear more.

SendOutCards.com – Also easy, just import your customer list and automate the campaign.

If you have 2900 or 29000 customers, you might have trouble with that many personal notes (etc), but I’ll bet you can easily identify your best customers. Start using these techniques with them. Once you see results, make it 200, 500 or more. Use Strategy 1 to put documented procedures in place, and automate as much as you can (Google alerts are great for this).

What to do next: Get a newsletter started. Start today. If you need some help, there are plenty of vendors around that can provide a newsletter. Google them or call your favorite print shop for a recommended vendor. Don’t forget to include a few places in your newsletter for a coupon or other offer, as well as a personal message from you. You can do it yourself, but see strategy #1 (6 weeks ago) before you do. While you are waiting for the newsletter to come to pass, get your mailing list cleaned up.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him at mriffey@flatheadbeacon.com.

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