by Lori Saitz
According to Dictionary.com, the definition of the adverb “consistently” is “in a systematic or consistent (reliable, steady) manner.” No matter what you’re doing, doing it consistently is the key to success. Now that I just wrote that, let me add the caveat that whatever you’re doing also needs to be in harmony with the universal concepts of good. I’m thinking someone who consistently robs banks will eventually get caught and therefore not be successful. But I digress.
Recall all the times you’ve started an exercise program. After several weeks of working out consistently, you start to see results. It’s not as important that you work out really hard or for a long time each session as it is that you do it consistently. Maybe the results are not coming as quickly as you would like; that’s okay. Trust that changes are happening. If you continue to work out consistently, after a few more weeks, you’ll see definite and positive improvement in your physical and mental conditioning.
If you want to talk about things moving at a glacial pace, we can look at, well, glaciers. They move incredibly slowly, right? But they are moving consistently and eventually, you (okay, maybe not you, but a scientist) will notice that they’re in a different place than they were.
We can apply the same principle of consistency to your business and the good news is it won’t take millions of years to see the changes. Research has discovered that communicating with your clients at least 25 times a year is optimal. WHOA! That’s the initial reaction I get from people when I say that. “Twenty-five times a year is way too much for my business!” No, it’s not. Here’s how you “touch” clients 25 times without being a pest.
You probably talk or meet with each of your clients at least once or twice a year just in the normal course of doing business. Personal contact is very important to keeping the relationship going. If you can’t manage to make a phone call or have lunch with a client once in an entire year, he’s probably not that good of a client. And for sure he won’t be a client for very long.
So that’s two times of contact.
Send birthday acknowledgment
A card, a little gift, something to let him know you remembered his special day. When is the last time one of your vendors or business partners acknowledged your birthday? Has it ever happened? Generally, your birthday is a day that is yours alone; it’s not like a national holiday that everyone is celebrating, so it’s your special day. If you have a good relationship with your client, sending a birthday acknowledgment is not a hollow gesture and will be much appreciated.
That’s one more time, so we’re up to three.
Share industry information or tips
You can do this through an e-zine like this one, regular e-mail, a printed newsletter, copies of articles from a magazine, whatever works for you. I recommend sending this kind of information at least once a month. You may argue that you don’t have time to compile stuff that often and that once a quarter is good enough. I’ll give you that quarterly is better than not at all, but higher frequency, more consistently (just like working out) yields better results. If you are providing useful information, recipients will not mind receiving it.
Do it 12 times a year, added to the previous three and we’re at 15.
Mail postcards or greeting cards
Promote a special occasion, upcoming workshop or unusual event. Everyone sends cards and gifts for the holidays at the end of the year. Now more and more people are jumping on the bandwagon to send stuff at Thanksgiving, thinking that will set them apart from all the December exchanges. Who is reaching out at Groundhog Day (February 2), International Customer Loyalty Month (April) or Flag Day (June 14)? Pick a few times throughout the year and use them to express your personality, say thanks for your business or ask for a referral in an unusual way. Your clients will remember you better and more often.
Every other month is six times, plus the 15, and we’ve got 21.
Recognize clients’ accomplishments
When you see an article in the newspaper or hear through the grapevine about a client’s good fortune, send a handwritten note, (or at least an e-mail), to say “Congratulations!” Who doesn’t like recognition for a job well done? And your client will feel good about you for having taken the time/interest to let her know you’re aware of it.
Let’s say you do this once a year and now we’re closer to the target with 22.
Write a column for the local newspaper, industry publication, association newsletter, etc.
Share your expertise with an audience that includes your clients, as well as potential clients. You position yourself as an expert and you reach a lot of people at one time with minimal effort. If there are 1,200 readers, it certainly beats making 1,200 phone calls, doesn’t it? If you get published three times, we’re all the way up to 25! Wow, that wasn’t so difficult.
In addition to these suggestions, you may have some other ideas on what you can do to keep in touch with your clients. Take some time today to come up with a plan for consistently communicating and improving rapport with your clients.
You’ll soon see that whatever you choose to do, doing it consistently yields fantastic results.
Lori Saitz is an appreciation marketing expert and the founder and president of Zen Rabbit Baking Company. She created the Zen Rabbit Gratitude Program for business professionals who believe expressing appreciation – for their clients, referral sources and anyone else who supports their success – is important.