April 28, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Thank You Cards

In his book, How To Master The Art Of Selling, Tom Hopkins, the fantastic training expert, discusses the importance of sending “thank you cards”. Tom, when he started as a real estate professional, sent thank you cards to everyone he met. He carried cards with him and would sit in his car after each meeting, writing out a card thanking them for the conversation. He then would mail the cards at the first opportunity.

Tom’s principle applies to our everyday lives, no matter what our business is, if we are in a career transition, or who we may know. Everyone, without exception, needs to acknowledge conversations with others, no matter the subject, but especially business or networking. Showing appreciation for your conversation is more effective than proclaiming how great you are.

The people with whom we converse on various topics love to be noticed. People do business with, and refer business to, people that they know, like, and trust. Anyone who provides you information has given you a gift. They deserve to be thanked, and you should personally show your appreciation for their gift of knowledge. Wouldn’t you like to be thanked for sharing with others?

Thank you cards are unique. A greeting card contains your feelings, your beliefs, and your appreciation for the person who provided information to you. When the recipient opens the card, all that rises up out of the card, like pheromones, enhancing the experience for the receiver. That person will think of you and should look forward to furthering the relationship with you. In short, they will remember you in a great way.

A thank you card indicates that you are professional and thinking of the other person before thinking of yourself. Sending a thank you card shows that you take the extra step instead of sending the quick, impersonal email. Emails are looked at once and discarded, if they are read at all. Some are opened, or not opened, and put aside for later review, often never. Some wind up in a Spam folder never to be read, and you never know if the other person received the email or not.

Do you need to actually write the card in your own handwriting? My handwriting is difficult to read and should never see the light of day. If you have a way to digitize your handwriting, do it. You will love it and never want to write anything in your personal handwriting for someone to attempt to read, often without success. Signatures may also be digitized and used in all manner of correspondence.

Thank you’s are not the only subject for which we should send cards. Birthdays, anniversaries, and other life events should be commemorated. Celebrating the lives of others makes you stand out in their memory and in the memories of others. Obviously, all business meetings, interviews, and other events provide you an opportunity to establish yourself as someone with whom the other person should continue to network. You should always acknowledge the gifts of others, especially the gifts of information.

Is there someone who you need to thank today, or is there someone whose special life event you should recognize? Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691. Sending thank you and other types of cards shows your support and appreciation to others. Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing. I appreciate your time and support.

April 21, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Do You Follow Up?

We have discussed before the importance of follow up with clients and prospects. If you attend a networking event and meet other people with whom you desire to network, establish relationships, or do business, you must follow up and get to know them better. People do business with, and refer business to, people that they know, like, and trust. There is no prize that is presented to the person who leaves a networking event with the most business cards from others. The prize goes to the person who does the best follow up.

In the past two weeks, I have attended several networking events, where the attendees met other people who were there to promote themselves and their businesses. All attendees provided information about themselves and their businesses and were able to obtain information regarding the other attendees. When you attend an event such as these, you aim to meet people with whom you can connect and build relationships. If those relationships lead to new clients or referrals, you accomplish your goal.

Just meeting others is not enough; you must follow up and form that relationship which should lead further. Calling these individuals is not a cold call; they should relate to the fact that you met at a recent meeting and spoke about further meetings. It is so important for these meetings to take place sooner, rather than later. Plan your schedule so that you can have these follow up meetings and start to build these relationships. If you don’t follow up, attending the meeting in the first place was a waste of your time, effort, and money.

Often we meet people and decide that we do not care to build a relationship with them as we believe that any relationship with these individuals would not benefit us. Never, ever prejudge anyone. The people you meet may never do business with you or refer anyone to you. However, what’s wrong with reaching out and helping someone else learn about networking and building relationships? Be a giver, and the world will return your gifts multifold.

In addition, you never know who these people may know. Perhaps that is someone whom you should meet to start to build relationships. It amazes me how people have tunnel vision when they meet new people. They never consider that the person who will never become their client may have friends or acquaintances who are looking for what they have to market. Marketing is making others aware of what you have to offer, who you are, and how you make the buying experience so wonderful for your customers. If you never speak further with these new acquaintances that you just met, how will your message get out to the world?

In this past two week period, I attended an event where many people paid to have tables to promote their business. After the event, I emailed each of these business people and offered to meet with them for follow up if they would contact me, and I included all versions of my contact information, phone, email, and mailing address. Only one of the people whom I offered to meet contacted me and followed up. Why were you there, and why did you waste the time, effort, and money you spent to promote your business?

What type of follow up do you practice after meeting anyone new? Do you prejudge anyone? What do your follow up practices say about you client service and how much, or little, you care about your clients and prospects? Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691 with your thoughts. Every missed follow up is a missed opportunity to market your business and reach out to others who may assist you in your marketing, at a very small price. You are what you do, or don’t do. Who are you?

April 14, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Do You Ever Ask?

How do your clients feel about your client service? Do they enjoy the buying experience when they purchase from your business? Do they believe that you value and appreciate them and the fact that they purchase your product or service? Do your clients believe that they are an asset to your business? Do you ever ask them what they think about their experiences when doing business with you?

There are several ways for you to investigate how your clients feel about their buying experience with your business. You can send them a survey; you can request that they participate in a “focus” group; you can ask them to complete a questionnaire online. You can provide multiple ways for them to participate in your fact finding. You can even have someone call them on the phone or visit them in person to gather their opinion of your business.

Whatever you do, do something. However you gather the information that will tell you how good or bad your business’s performance is, you must collect that information and learn from it. No matter what your clients say about your business and their buying experience, you have the opportunity to learn from that information and use it to improve what you do. Even if their comments tell you that you are wonderful and above criticism, there is more data there that can help you improve your performance.

You can ask all types of questions of your clients in all sorts of ways. However, you can cause the information to be slanted or incomplete if you don’t form the survey or questionnaire correctly. We usually try to make the information gathering as easy on the gatherer as possible. Perhaps that is the wrong approach. True/false questions, multiple choice selections, or ratings on a scale about service are fine, but limited. If you want to really know someone’s opinion, just ask for it. Let them tell you in their own words.

One of the best ways to get this type of information is to ask someone what they think of your service and let them answer in a narrative format. Let them give you information in their own words, no matter how long and rambling the format may be. It will take you more time to process the information, but they will be more forthcoming, factual, and helpful than if the client just filled out a form with boxes. Ask specific questions about specific situations, but let the client answer in their own way. Put them in the role of an expert that can help, and they will provide all the information you wish.

Of course there is another source of information that we have not discussed. Have you ever asked your employees for their opinion of your client services? Have you asked for their input and suggestions about your marketing and your order and delivery process? Have you given them a forum for their views and ideas? Let them contribute and participate in your business’s operation, and you will be rewarded multifold. Employees, like clients, will help bring you success if you let them help you know how you are doing. Just make it happen.

What do your clients say about your business and your client service? What they tell you should help you make your processes better for both your business and your clients. Your employees have a vested interest in the future of your business. You should tap into their knowledge and allow them to contribute. Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691 with your strategy and input. Your clients have information that you need to hear, and your employees should know that their input is welcome. What they tell you will be what they say to others, including your customers.

April 7, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – What Drives You Crazy?

Every day there are events that happen to us all that just “drive us crazy”. These happenings cause us no end of frustration and sometimes make no sense. Some of them may be of our own doing, but the majority happen because someone else did something that defies logic. What events trigger your frustration, and how do you cope with that feeling?

We all have the prospect with whom we have spent time, effort, and money who, at the last minute, decides not to do business with us. How could we put so much effort into explaining how what we offered was perfect for them and then have them either choose our competitor, or decide to do nothing at all? Do they not understand that we are the greatest product or service that their business could have? We simply have to accept what happens and move on to the next prospect. We need to understand that we cannot sign everyone.

Of course, we all have signed the prospect as a customer who doesn’t want to become a client. This is the person who doesn’t want our great customer service that we provide after they purchase from us. We pride ourselves on teaching our clients on how to use our product or service in the way that will give them the best results. However, some customers don’t want to spend the time and effort to listen to our coaching or guidance, instead plowing ahead on their own. One day perhaps they will ask for our help, but we know that they may flounder in using their purchase until then. Just let them be and then help them when they do call for assistance. Keep them informed in small notifications or updates, and be patient with them.

Do you have the customer who never listened to you when you explained your product or service to them before they purchased from you only to inform you that they “didn’t know what you sold to them”? Be consistent in your presentation, only deviating for the occasional advice on how what you offer could be used in a specific situation. Do you offer coaching after the sale, or do you stay in touch with a customer as they grow and perhaps change their business? Great customer service can help customers deal with future problems and save a relationship, but only if you are consistent here also.

There are some small problems that also drive all of us to the point of craziness. The prospect or customer that never returns our phone or other messages, the person who misses a meeting without notifying you, the customer whose payment does not arrive on schedule, the prospect with more excuses than either customers or prospects, and sometimes ourselves when we just cannot get out of our own way.

We must learn that, no matter what challenges we discover, we must have patience. We must not let our tempers control us, and we cannot allow our personal feelings to take over our rhetoric. We must maintain control over what we do and remain professional at all times. No matter how we believe that someone else is wrong, often we should simply keep our mouth closed and keep our feelings to ourselves. Just keep out of your own way.

So what drives you crazy, and how do you deal with whatever happens? Do you control your feelings and have the patience to remain professional and calm in spite of how you feel? There are always people “who will push your hot button”, sometimes on purpose. Deal with those situations by being the professional that you should be. Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691 with your strategy. Appreciation Marketing should work most of the time, but patience and self control can help us succeed when times get frustrating. There is always the next prospect.