“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!