If You Appreciate Them, They Will Appreciate You
I watch Mad Men. As a woman, I have to say that the sexism frequently pisses me off. However, there are some things about the way businesses operated in the 60s that I think we miss the mark on in today’s fast-past world. Back then, customer relationships were everything. Customer appreciation lunches and dinners were mainstays in doing business. Not so much anymore.
When was the last time you took your top customers out for lunch? If you’re like most companies today, it’s probably been a while…if ever. Most of us are so busy playing the role of air traffic controller to our email and sitting on calls and meetings that we rarely get out of the office to spend quality time with our customers. (And, BTW, meetings and calls don’t count as quality time.)
As we all know, acquiring new customers isn’t easy. First, there’s finding them. Then, pitching them. Then, proposing your services to them. Then, closing the deal (hopefully). Then, making sure you put your best foot forward and do a good job for them. And, then there’s nurturing the relationship in order to get continued business. Many companies fall short when it comes to nurturing their customer relationships. They’re so focused on chasing the next big thing that they forget about the gold mine that they have in their existing customer relationships.
Showing your customers some love is actually pretty easy. Customer appreciation doesn’t require a super involved strategic plan. Simply identify your top tier customers, and even some from your second and third tiers that have good potential. If they’re local, make some lunch dates and spend quality time with them learning about them personally and how their work life is going. If they’re not local, consider visiting them once or twice a year to get dialed into their business and wine and dine them a bit. Or, if visiting them in person isn’t realistic, send them lunch or a gift card to a restaurant with a nice note.
Currently, our agency is embarking on a client birthday program. We’ve identified a program called BirthdayAlarm that we can use to harness all of our clients’ birthdays. Then, we’re going to do an email asking them to add their birthday to our calendar. Once our calendar is set up, we will be sending birthday cards out every year to each of our clients. After all, who doesn’t appreciate it when someone remembers their birthday?!
Appreciate your customers and they will in turn appreciate you. In terms of marketing dollars, customer appreciation provides about the best ROI you can find.
Need some more marketing inspiration? Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410.216.9447 x 106