August 26, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – It’s Not Just for Clients


This past week someone asked me if Appreciation Marketing applies only to clients. I repeatedly advise my clients that Appreciation Marketing can be expressed to everyone with whom you come into contact. This includes clients, prospects, employees, family, friends, and everyone else. Of course you would want to turn prospects into clients, and your employees should be contributors to the success of your business.

Your family members also need to know that you appreciate them, along with your friends. All of these people should know what you do for a living and how you do it. Your neighbors may know someone who desperately needs what you have for sale. Your family members may also know someone who can be a client. Both groups may never become clients themselves, but why exclude them until they know what you have for the public. They are just like everyone else; they may not become your clients, but they may know great prospects for you.

Your employees are a vital part of your business and should be considered and treated as such. They must know and believe that you appreciate their work, their ideas, and their dedication to the success of the business. They must practice Appreciation Marketing towards your clients, towards each other, and to everyone with whom they come into contact. In addition, they should practice it towards you and anyone else in the management of your business. Appreciation Marketing must become second nature and a habit, a very good habit.

Is there anyone else who we may have left out of the target population for Appreciation Marketing? You should include every person, every individual on the earth. Appreciation Marketing can apply to everyone whom you meet, have ever met, or ever will meet. Why not? Appreciation Marketing makes you a better person, even if they don’t expand your business client list. That makes you better to know and work with for all the people who you know, whether they are clients, prospects, employees, family, friends, or acquaintances.

If you buy coffee from a shop, thank the person who serves you; if you ask directions, thank the person who steers you towards your destination. When your employees speak with a client or prospect, praise their performance, teach them how to improve, and praise their ability to learn. If a client refers a prospect to you, thank them and maybe give them a gift. If someone gives you a smile, give them one in return and thank them for their graciousness. If anyone does not give you a smile, thank them for knowing them and for their business, for their presence in your life, or whatever will provoke that missing smile.

Opportunities for Appreciation Marketing abound each and every day in our lives. Literally everyone with whom we come into contact is an opportunity. Take charge of your life and practice Appreciation Marketing. It will make you a better person, and karma will provide goodness back to you from all around you. Your success will grow, and your gratitude will precede you in your life.

So, what do you think about sharing Appreciation Marketing with the world? Can you enlarge your efforts to include everyone that you know or ever know? Leave me your stories of your efforts and experiences. You can also email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or you can always call me at 360-314-8691. I love to speak with other believers of Appreciation Marketing and learn from them. I believe that we all can teach, learn, and grow together through our gratitude towards others.

August 19, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Telephone Calls


Some businesses pride themselves on answering incoming telephone calls by the second or third ring, and every business should have incoming telephone calls answered by a live person. However, both of these great intentions may not be possible for some business people. Sole proprietors or those without a large support staff must have a professional greeting on their phone system, even if it is a cell phone. It should be short, direct, complete, and prompt the caller to leave adequate information for the business owner.

There are business people who brag that they actually answer their phones, but is it a consistent practice? I know many people who never answer their phones, hiding behind their voice mail and picking who they will favor with a return call. This will kill any business. People will learn that you do this and stop wasting their time calling you. Business people who have a secretary or assistant who answers their phone for them are guilty of a similar practice. The phrase, “I’ll see if he is in” means “I’ll see if he will honor you by answering your call.” Often the caller could easily say, “Just turn around and see if he is in”.

No matter the reason, when someone leaves you a voice message, return the call. If you can, return it within that business day or within 24 hours at the most. Even worse than not answering your phone, it is more insulting when you do not return calls. It doesn’t matter if the caller leaves a message on voice mail or with your assistant, return the call. You may know the caller or not, they may leave an adequate message or not, or they may need immediate assistance or just want to say hello. No matter the situation, just return the call.

If someone else can answer their inquiry before you can return their call, make that happen, and then call them to verify that their problem is handled. If they do not leave an adequate message, and you don’t know exactly what they want, call them to find out. You might do some research before you call, if possible, to anticipate their needs. If you don’t know the caller or what they need, you should call them to discover who they are and what they want. Don’t just wonder what they could possibly want; call them. If they call more than once, what are you waiting for? Many businesses would love to have a stranger call them.

I recently called someone that I met to verify his email address. The call rolled into someone else’s voice mail, and I left a message that I was searching for the other individual, giving my telephone number, name, and business name. When no one called me after several days, I called again and left the same message, adding that I would appreciate a return call. I received a call back stating that they had not returned my original call due to the fact that no one there knew who I was or what I wanted. I receive calls often from people who I do not know, and I am happy to discover who they are and what they want. If we cannot do business, how can we form a networking relationship that will benefit both of us?

What have been your telephone experiences? Do you ever take calls from strangers who turn into networking partners or customers? Please leave me your stories of similar situations and your feelings about phone etiquette. You can also email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or you can always call me at 360-314-8691. If you get my voice mail, I’ll call you back, I promise. Remember that your telephone greeting can make your clients feel appreciated or not. Make leaving a message a pleasant experience, only surpassed by your return call.

August 12, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – New Customers vs Old


This past week I was engaged in another one of those conversations relating to where to emphasize our marketing efforts, on acquiring new customers or retaining old customers. Of course, new customers are very important to any business, and we all should have in place procedures to obtain new customers for our businesses. However, more businesses are placing emphasis on retaining current customers for very simple reasons. We have previously discussed some of these reasons before.

You have spent time, money, and effort on acquiring the current customers that you have. Shouldn’t you place emphasis on retaining those customers so that those efforts and money are not wasted after the initial sale? You should work to retain their business, and you should exert efforts to keep those customers satisfied so that they refer others to your business. A good portion of your marketing budget should be directed on retaining the customers that you already have.

Your current customers should be a source of referrals for your business. If they are happy and believe that you provide a quality product or service for an appropriate price, they will provide a free advertisement for your business to their friends, neighbors, family, and networking partners. They should be encouraged to provide referrals to you and should be rewarded for doing so. After all, those referrals put money into your pocket; reward those referral sources with a thank you and possibility a gift of some sort.

These referrals rewards don’t have to be major in scope or cost; after all, for some people the simple thank you card or letter will do just fine. However, the person who consistently provides quality, guaranteed referrals should be rewarded with something that reflects the extent of their support. Their actions have enhanced your business bottom line, and you should be willing to show them how you feel about them and their impact on your business.

Your customers can provide something other than referrals. They can tell you how you are performing, what changes you need to make to grow your business or your offerings, and what you should keep doing or not. They know what you do and how you do it. They are your private focus group; utilize them and their knowledge with questionnaires, surveys, and other means to gain their input. Then, thank them for their information and show your appreciation for their responses.  This information may be as valuable as a referral; it may save you time, money, or even an employee, much less customers.

Your customers are a very valuable asset for your business. Don’t forget the ones that may buy once from you and never buy again. Find out why and then treat them as you would a valuable repeat customer. Maybe they just don’t need what you have again. (Perhaps your product just doesn’t need replacing.) Maybe they don’t have whatever they had that needed your product or service, or maybe their lifestyle changed. Remember that they can still be referral sources and that they can offer recommendations about your operation just like current customers.

How do you show appreciation to your customer base? What about non customers who are referral sources or who provide feedback about your business operations? Let everyone see your comments here, or you can email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. You can always call me at 360-314-8691. Remember that your business cannot survive without customers, current or new, but customers can bring in new ones if they feel that they are appreciated by you.

August 5, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Show Your Gratitude


Those who know me from networking gatherings have heard me talking about showing gratitude. Every day we should show gratitude toward those who touch our lives in some manner. We should thank the people that do anything for us, even if it is part of our business relationship, even if it is just a part of our daily comings and goings.

You may have heard me challenge others to show gratitude to one person in some manner everyday. Anyone who has taken this challenge seriously has discovered that keeping the action to one recipient per day is next to impossible. Who do you exclude from your gratitude? Who do you slight in your actions? Who do you intentionally leave out? Those omissions are required to limit our daily allotment of gratitude to just one person.

Why stop there? How many people can you “touch” in one day? Why not include the person who opens a door for you, the person who sells you something, or the person who allows you to cross a street when traffic is busy? They all deserve a “thank you”. They all deserve some gesture of gratitude for their kindness or courtesy. Just as important as that gesture of gratitude is, remember that the act for which you are grateful is the more significant of the two happenings.

Your act of gratitude must be personal and not seen as “trying to make an impression for profit”. You should be seen as sincere and meaningful, and your act should not seem rehearsed. Your act of gratitude must be genuine and honest. After several attempts to blend gratitude into your life and its flow, you will be surprised at how casual it will become. Your acts of gratitude will become second nature, just as breathing, eating, and sleeping.

Showing gratitude means that you are practicing appreciation marketing. Showing gratitude towards others means that you appreciate their actions, their business practices, their habits, and their lifestyle. Are they people that you should get to know better; perhaps they are business people that you should imitate? Tell them about their impression on your life. That would be an act of gratitude that would mean so much to them. Every act of gratitude impacts the recipient of the gratitude, especially if you are thanking them for being a mentor.

Showing gratitude changes the life of the recipient of the gesture of gratitude. Watch that person and you will see them smile, walk a little taller, hold their head a little higher, or even show more confidence in their dealings with others. If you keep watching the person, you may see them show an act of gratitude toward someone else before too long. Start an avalanche of gratitude soon, and see if it comes back to you. You won’t be disappointed: you will be pleased at the scope of the actions of many others.

Gratitude for others may mean that you show it toward your customers also. Make them feel appreciated for their business or for other actions, and you will have a happy customer. Happy customers tend to be consistent customers, buying from your business over and over. They also become your advocates, telling others about you and your business practices. That means referrals for you business and money in your pocket.

Tell us about your experiences with showing gratitude towards others and how it has impacted your business and yourself. Your comments are always welcome here, or you can email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.What do your actions say about you and your business? How has showing gratitude towards others impacted your life?