“Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity.” – Jean De La Bruvère
Sometimes standing out as a business provider is simple. It’s amazing how little things can make such a big difference when it comes to implementing a marketing strategy. This week alone, I had two vendors miss deadlines they set – with nary a contact to explain. These same people will likely blame the economy for their financial woes.
If this is today’s norm, that’s good news for anyone who provides a modicum of customer service. Here are some easy ideas anyone can implement to be better than the rest:
- Return phone calls from prospects and clients. Most expect this will happen within 24 hours (unless it’s a holiday or weekend). Some prescribe to same day, which is better. Oh – and provide your phone number where it’s easy to find on your website. Most don’t.
- Deliver what you promise when it’s supposed to arrive. If you agree on a deadline, meet it. If you can’t, get a hold of the client prior to being late and explain. Most customers will be understanding and forgiving if they’re warned. Simply not communicating is bad business.
- Reply to e-mails. Even if you can’t address a concern immediately, shoot a quick note indicating when you will be able to respond (see number two).
- Refer prospects to others if you’re not the ideal provider. This builds good will and can often result in more referrals than those you get from clients. People appreciate it when they know you put their needs ahead of your bottom line. Plus, if you take on an account you can’t support word will spread quickly you don’t deliver.
- Plan your time before your day starts. Of course, there will be unexpected interruptions, so don’t schedule too tight, but it’s important to set aside blocks of time for client deliverables and follow up during the day. If you know you have ten hours of client work due in a week, don’t wait until the night before to start.
- Agree on fees prior to work start. Honor these quotes. If the client is demanding a lot more than discussed, alert them to additional charges before you do the added work.
- Craft a brief letter of agreement so all are clear on what will be delivered by when, for what price. This need not be an exhaustive document filled with legalese (I generally won’t sign these). Instead, be friendly, clear and pertinent with the language and content. Usually a paragraph or two will do. Include a section that is easy to scan illustrating work product descriptions, delivery dates and expected payments.
- Thank clients, referral agents, vendors and business associates who help you prosper. So few practice courtesy today, so simply acknowledging someone’s value can become an incredibly effective business building approach. Want to really stand out? Craft a hand written note and put a stamp on it.
- Enjoy your work. If you don’t, everyone will know it, especially your clients. Choose activities and customers that provide rewards beyond the financial gain. You won’t be able to sustain the business if you dread the work or people.
On the vendors referenced at the start of this post, one’s done. There’s a lot of referral business to be lost as a result. The jury is still out on the other – he called back quickly, was apologetic and eager find a fix.
Even if you just implement a few of these marketing strategy tips immediately (none are tough to do so there’s little reason not to try them all) you’ll see a difference in how people respond to you. Happy people talk. Disgruntled ones tend to talk more. Merely being polite, responsive and approachable can make a significant difference in the number of customers you attract and keep. Try it. You’ll like it.
Please comment below to share other ideas you may have or illustrate how some of these tips work for you. Thanks!
8 responses to “Marketing strategy blunders – nine easy tips to stop being broke in business”
Very nice article. I tried to live by these rules and I compliment people that I work with when they do.
Thanks for stopping in, Debbie, and leaving a comment. On the small world front, I have a small organic vegetable/herb business on the farm. It’s so much fun cultivating and picking your own food, isn’t it? Cringed when I had to resort to a little bit of Seven here (eggplant and cucumbers) with a long drought and then loss of water for almost a month. The bugs moved in to devour stressed plants. I managed for almost 15 years prior with no chemicals. A tangent, I know, but it’s always nice to meet another who has come to enjoy the experience and heath that results from home grown.
This is an absolute MUST list for all. This is what we want as the client so we should give it to our clients.
Great point, Retha. You’ll get better service as a client if you apply these simple practices too!
These tips are so true. I hired one roofer over another because he returned my call. I gave up on a hoof trimmer because she could never respond to emails or phone calls. If, however, I know ahead of time that they need to be harassed, then I’m okay with harassing therm. I have a terrific horse body worker who needsj to be harassed! 🙂
It’s amazing, isn’t it Laurie? I just don’t have the patience anymore to chase people to give them work. It takes a bit longer to find excellent providers from the start, but the time and money you save with one-sided follow-up and no shows no more pays it back pretty quickly. Plus you don’t have the headaches (usually if one vendor doesn’t deliver there are a host of other vendors/clients/etc. that suffer from the domino effect). I’ve found that people who are poor communicators generally deliver sub-par work and it’s often late.
At first glance these tips seem to be common sense. Unfortunately, it seems to be a rarity rather than the norm to find business providers who practice these basic courtesies. Prompt, honest follow-up is definitely a service I look for and value, and I strive to always provide this same service to my own clients as well. Thank you Nanette for the reminder.
Strange how common sense can sometimes get lost, isn’t it Carol? Thanks for stopping in and commenting.