Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category
Many people think that the way to grow a successful business is by winning plenty of new clients. They do lots of marketing and focus on winning sales. They spend all their time looking for ways of impressing potential new clients.
There is another way to build a stable service business. Because this is the month of Valentine’s Day, in the February issue of Scribbles, my email newsletter, I wrote about how to love your existing clients. Show them how much they love you and they will help you to grow your business. Here’s what it said.
There are four simple ways to grow your business, which I’ve written about in my book, Magnetic Marketing. They are:
- Sell more of your existing services to your existing clients
- Sell new services to your existing clients
- Sell more of your existing services to new clients
- Sell new services to new clients
The simplest of these strategies are the first two. Your existing clients already know and love you – they are already buying from you. So they are easiest people to approach to see if they want to buy more from you. They are the first people you should approach if you develop a new service. But how do you show your existing clients how much you love them? How do you keep in touch with them, to make it easier to sell more or new services to them?
The answer is to keep in touch with them by giving them things that they need. There are many ways in which you can keep in touch, including:
Email newsletters – some people think they’ve had their day, but I disagree. Share useful advice every month, rather than pushing sales onto your clients and they’ll keep reading and buying from you. They will also forward your newsletter to potential clients for you.
Blogs – think about the problems that your clients struggle with. Write the solutions into your blogs – be generous and just give away the solution. Put your blogs and newsletters onto your website, because search engines love content and websites that are updated regularly.
How to Guides – if a client has a particular problem that you can solve for them, write a guide, booklet or ebook about it, which gives you the space to go into real detail and depth. Then send it out to all your clients.
Social media – if you’re giving away your advice in newsletters and blogs, it’s really easy to break down the long content into a big series of tweets and LinkedIn updates. Give away bite sized solutions and answers to problems.
Videos – if you’ve written about it, you can talk about it to a video camera. If you record a short video about a topic, you can then create a blog post by transcribing your words. You can easily create short videos for specific clients or groups of clients and send them to them.
Workshops and talks – run seminars or clinics for your clients, where you just share advice and answer their questions. Record your talks and give the videos to your clients.
Keep in touch with your clients and show them, on a regular basis, how much you love them, by answering all their questions. When you do this, they will keep coming back to buy from you again and again; and they’ll recommend you to potential clients too.
Easter comes around next month, so the March issue of Scribbles will be about all things Easter Bunny, chicks, chocolate and plenty of other eggciting things you can do to promote your business! If you’d like to subscribe to receive your own copy direct to your inbox, just click here. Every month we pick on lucky new subscriber and send them a free copy of my book, One in Ten (How to Survive at Least 10 Years in Business!) If you’d like a chance of winning, just join the lovely group of people who already read Scribbles every month.
Image source: By Kalki (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
This year in my email newsletter, Scribbles, I have decided to focus each monthly issue on something seasonal, to help you with your marketing. For example, in July we’ll look at how to give your marketing a summer holiday, while in November we’ll see how to make your marketing go with a real bang and some fireworks!
In case you don’t receive Scribbles, I’m going to share this month’s topic with you here in this blog. So this month, because it’s January, the start of a new year, I’d like to talk about a ‘new’ marketing concept, which you can use to promote your business, but that I don’t actually think is that new! Read on to find out what I mean.
A couple of years ago I started to notice more and more use of the term ‘Content Marketing’. Everyone was telling us that we should be using it to promote our businesses and that it was the next best thing that would change the way that marketing was done. I heard people say that the secret to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) was actually Content Marketing and that your marketing would fail if you used traditional marketing techniques, rather than switching to Content Marketing.
But is it really a new concept? And what exactly is Content Marketing?
While writing this issue of Scribbles, I discovered that there is actually an organisation in the US called the Content Marketing Institute. According to their website, “Content Marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behaviour. It is an ongoing process that is best integrated into your overall marketing strategy.”
So what they’re saying is that Content Marketing will help you attract clients to your business and that you can use it keep hold of those clients. You do this by giving them useful content that will encourage them to buy from you and to keep buying from you. Oh, and you should keep doing it on a regular basis, in line with your other marketing activity.
Let me share a trade secret with you. There is nothing new there!
Over 15 years ago, a new Marketing Consultancy was set up with the aim of helping small businesses to write good stuff about what they do. The Marketing Consultancy spent most of its time writing newsletters and articles that shared the expertise and knowledge of those small businesses, who always gave their material away for free. Sometimes they asked for an email address is return, but mostly it was free, to anyone who needed some advice. The Marketing Consultancy also helped small businesses to share their experiences through speaking at networking groups and running workshops that anyone could attend. As time moved on, social media was invented, which made it even easier for the Marketing Consultancy to help the small businesses to share their content and ideas, through blogs, tweets, LinkedIn articles and videos.
In the same way, the Marketing Consultancy shared a huge amount of advice and expertise by writing and talking about what they knew about marketing. They always gave away answers to anyone who asked nicely enough. Over time the company grew and developed a reputation for being generous in the amount of advice they would share (and for producing good content!)
So you see, Content Marketing is not a new concept. It’s been around for a long time; it’s just that it’s only recently been called Content Marketing and heralded as a great new marketing concept. It’s about building up relationships with prospective clients so that they learn to trust you, without selling them stuff they don’t need or want. In fact, get your ‘content marketing’ right and you won’t ever have to sell again!
How can you use Content Marketing?
Here are some ways in which you can share your knowledge, in order to find and keep new clients:
Email newsletters – some people think they’ve had their day, but I disagree. Share useful advice every month, rather than pushing sales onto your readers and they’ll keep reading and buying from you. (Scribbles has been published every month since 2001!)
Blogs – think about the problems that your clients and potential clients struggle with. Write the solutions into your blogs, showing that you really know what you’re talking about. Put your blogs and newsletters onto your website, because search engines love content and websites that are updated regularly.
How to Guides – got more to say about a particular topic? Write a guide, booklet or ebook about it, which gives you the space to go into real detail and depth.
Social media – if you’re writing content for newsletters and blogs, it’s really easy to share links to that information on platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn. You can also break down your long blog and newsletter content into a big series of tweets and LinkedIn updates.
Videos – if you’ve written about it, you can talk about it to a video camera. Or, if you record a short 1-2 minute video about a topic, you can then create a blog post by transcribing your words.
Workshops and talks – content marketing isn’t just the written or recorded word. Run seminars and give talks at networking groups where you just share advice, without selling. Record your talks and give away the videos through your website.
The great thing about all these marketing tools is that they work brilliantly together. Write a newsletter that showcases some of your best blogs; tweet about your newsletters and videos; use videos to attract people to your workshops; give away a free How to Guide to anyone who subscribes to your newsletter. Spend a bit of time thinking about what help your clients and prospects need, that you can give; then share that advice with them and work out a way of doing a bit every week and every month. And hey presto – you will have mastered Content Marketing along with the professionals!
In February’s issue of Scribbles, during the month of Valentine’s Day, we’ll look at how important it is to love your clients and how this will help you promote your business. Subscribe to receive your own copy here and I’ll also send you a free guide called the DIY Marketing Guide to Newsletters – 43 pages of really helpful advice to help you successfully use a newsletter as part of your marketing.
- I will always smile first
- My first response to a guest will never be “No”
- I will treat all colleagues with respect and integrity
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
So what does this have to do with marketing and finding new clients? Two things. Firstly, when you look after your existing clients with seven star customer service, they will love you for it and will stay with you for years. After all, you don’t want to put lots of effort into marketing and finding new clients, just for them to leave you within a week. Secondly, because your clients love you and the customer service you give them, they will recommend you to lots of potential clients, thereby doing your marketing for you.
“But I don’t run a hotel,” I hear you cry. Don’t worry – if you run a service business, you can apply these principles to what you do.
- I will always smile first. Whether you’re meeting a prospect for the first time, meeting a client for the hundredth time, or answering the phone, remember to smile first.
- My first response to a guest will never be “No”. Think of your clients as ‘guests’. Whatever they ask, never answer ‘No’ first. Your answer might need to be “We’ll see what we can do” or “Let me look into that for you” but never “No”.
- I will treat all colleagues with respect and integrity. And this one is just the same, whether you run a hotel or a service business!
See how you can put these simple standards into practice, deliver seven star customer service and see the effect it has on your business.
Do you actively encourage people to refer your business to others, or do you just wait for a nice referral to come along? Are you doing anything to encourage more people to recommend you, or are you one of those people who doesn’t like to ask?
Referrals are one of the best ways to promote your business and yet too many small business owners don’t make the most of them. Here’s an example of how they work for us at Appletree.
Nearly half of the new clients who come to Appletree come because we have been recommended to them. (Nearly half come from networking. We know this because we measure our marketing – more of that in another blog.)
Last year we made a number of changes to the way we work at Appletree. I’d taken my eye of the ball with a few clients and then found out that they weren’t that happy with the service they were receiving. So I spent a lot of time on the phone and meeting clients, to talk about what they really wanted from us and whether our ‘new look’ service would suit them – or not.
One client I spoke to at this time, told me that actually he didn’t like what we were doing and that he was close to leaving us. I was devastated as I hadn’t realized how bad it had become. It took a number of long (and not particularly easy) phone calls and a meeting to work out the best solution for him. In the end, we agreed to carry on working together, with us providing exactly the service he wanted.
Having a happy client was the result I was looking for, but the benefits were better than that. Not long after sorting out these issues, this client recommended us to another business that needed some marketing help. I went to see them and within a short meeting, they had booked us to do lots of marketing for them. “Do you want to know more about Appletree and our credentials?” I asked them. Their reply was “No, because if Simon has recommended you and is working with you, we know that you’ll do a great job for us too.” How good was it to hear that!?
How can you turn your clients into raving fans who recommend you?
When is the Best Time to ask for a Referral?
Many people are wary of asking for referrals, thinking that it might sound a bit pushy. There is a very comfortable way to ask for referrals. The next time someone thanks you for helping them to solve a problem, ask who else they know who might be looking to solve the same problem.
You can do this with both clients and potential clients. They ask you a question – “How can I encourage more referrals?” You give them the solution – “The next time someone says thank you.” They say “Thank you very much for helping me.” You say “Who else do you know who needs help getting more referrals?”
When you’re looking for a new service provider, how do you go about doing it? When you need a new accountant, IFA or someone to service your car, how do you find them? Chances are, you ask people you know to recommend someone. Why? Because someone won’t recommend a business to you unless they trust them. If they trust that person with their finances, their pension or their car, you can be pretty sure that yours will be in safe hands too.
You may have also noticed that people who have been referred to you are much easier to sell to. They’ve already been told great things about you by their friend or colleague, who they trust, so turning them into one of your clients is relatively easy.
However, rather than just waiting for referrals to come along – or hoping that they will – what can you do to encourage more of them? Here’s how one of our clients does it so brilliantly!
How do Referrals work for our clients?
Barry runs a number of fun, energetic camps for children, during school holidays. The camps are currently held at a number of private schools around Oxfordshire, which have really good facilities. The children who attend the camps regularly go home fitter and healthier after a week of camp, than when they arrived. They get to take part in a huge range of activities, including swimming, archery and canoeing.
The vast majority of new clients – the parents of the children – find out about the camps because their friends recommend them. Happy parents, whose happy children come home tired and well looked after, are happy to recommend Barry and his team to their friends. The business runs a referral scheme, where anyone who refers a friend, whose children are then booked into camp, can receive free days for their own children, or a bottle of champagne. There are some children who have had many weeks of free camp, as a result of all the referrals that their parents have made to their friends and their children. The referral scheme is advertised in the weekly newsletter that the business emails to clients; and it is on their website too.
However, there are also many parents who turn down the bottle of champagne or the free days of camp. Why? When they’re asked, they usually reply “Please just look after my friend’s children as well as you look after mine.” They want their friend’s children to experience the same fun, energetic camp that theirs enjoy. This means that the best way for Barry’s business to encourage more referrals is not by asking them, but by focusing on the quality of the service that they provide.
Can you encourage more referrals by providing the best possible service and by really looking after your clients?