Mention marketing to a professional or business owner and the topic usually goes to print ads, online messaging, networking and/or branding. Few consider the importance of maintaining personal connections.
Unfortunately this oversight can cause the lost of clients and a positive reputation. Here are a few pointers for avoiding the “impersonal pitfall”:
Don’t over automate. In this age of technology, it is very tempting to automate everything from your phone system and billing to greeting cards and company announcements. I will admit, automation does have its place. After all, it would be extremely time-consuming to do all of your paperwork by hand.
But, clients do like personal contact. So, instead of sending out cards with preprinted signatures, why not take the time to personally sign the card and include a personal note.
If you find it difficult to do this during the end of year holiday season, try sending birthday cards. Better yet, split your list so that some clients get “Happy Spring!” cards, while others get Thanksgiving cards (feel free to choose your own holidays).
As a side note: PLEASE make sure that your automated systems work properly. Few things are worse than a client getting harassed by your automated billing system because of a glitch (Trust me, as of today I have received 8 copies of a bill I paid months ago. Needless to say, I won’t be using that service again!).
Stay involved. Avoid falling into the “bait and switch” syndrome. A major complaint from clients is that the prospect/proposal team members are not available once the project begins. If your prospecting team is full of people that will not be actively involved in the engagement, reconsider your team. Let your clients meet their main contacts from the beginning. First of all, chemistry plays a large role in a project being successful, and clients are not only buying your service/product, but your team. Secondly, switching team members once an engagement begins says that the client is not worth executives’ time, just that of your junior staff. This is a surefire way to get a poor referral.
Remain flexible. It’s easy to have a rigid set of rules that apply to every client and situation.
Unfortunately this easy route is also a business killer. Remember that clients like to feel special and that you value their viewpoint. So, evaluate situations individually before making a decision.
Not only will your clients appreciate your flexibility, but you’ll be seen as a problem solver unafraid to make the possible choices.
Towanda Long aka The Café Lady