Why You Should Send Your Clients a Thank You Gift by January 31st, 2014

13 Jan
Your holiday card is in this pile

Your holiday card is in this pile

Let’s be honest: the holiday card and/or holiday email thank you to your prospects and clients ended up in either the trashcan or the spam folder.  As a business owner/marketing professional/human being, you understand that clients and prospects are inundated with advertisements. You have approximately three seconds to catch his or her attention. 

Imagine how many holiday cards your clients/prospects received during the holidays – cards and gifts from businesses, family members, friends, and former friends that forgot to updated the ol’ mailing list (always a bit awkward for about 5 minutes). 

Are you ready to stand out and get ahead of your competition?

Now is the time to send a sincere, handwritten ‘Thank You’ along with a unique, heartfelt gift to your most profitable clients. Give yourself a timeline of January 31st, 2014 to:

  • Segment your most influential/profitable clients/contacts/prospects
  • Write (handwritten) a sincere ‘thank you’ and personalize it if possible
  • Include gift (see bottom for an idea to get you started)
  • Place a ‘live stamp’ (no stamp machine)
  • Mail

Why now is the perfect time to nurture your clients and prospects?

A)     You will not be lost in the crowd.

As I mentioned: everybody and their mother sent a holiday card/gift/email during December.

B)      Least Expected/Most Appreciate

We just survived the most depressing day (Blue Monday) and week of the year (the first full week after New Year’s)

C)      Your Competition is Back to Taking Clients for Granted

  1. In this ultra-competitive landscape, you should be doing everything in your power to stand out from the competition.
  2. You are in a relationship with your client(s): Your competition sent a holiday card/email (you probably did too). They won’t follow up in January or February or March or April. You will. 

What Should I Send My Clients and Top Prospects?

Here are a few ideas for you:

1) ‘Spring is only X-days Away’ – Here’s a $10.00 gift card to the frozen yogurt shop (bonus points if you purchase gift card from local store) – close your eyes and imagine the warm weather that’s on the way.

2) A $10.00 coffee gift card to keep you warm in February letter. The ad copy could be something like: “Thank you for your business. I know you have a choice, and I’m thrilled you decided to do business with XYZ company. Here’s a $10.00 coffee gift card to show my small token of appreciation; hope it helps warm you up in February!”

Be authentic. Be Creative. Your clients and prospects will love you for it! They might even share it with their social circle; which is like free advertising for your company.

Good luck!

What a Hair Salon Can Teach You About Quickly Increasing Referrals and Sales

20 Nov

As we opened the door our senses were immediately overwhelmed: The sounds of soft reggae music; the smell of freshly brewed coffee and hair products ; the sight of a clean, modern designed lobby, furnished with leather chairs and flat screen televisions.  There was even a small bar in the corner.

long-curly-hair-back-view

I LOVE YOUR HAIR!!!

The Arrival Experience 

“Can I get you something to drink? We have coffee, beer, soft drinks, tea, and wine.”

Brianna requested a glass of water.  “Sparkling or still?” Seriously?

My only thought: Did we enter a hair salon or a five-star resort? We were at a hair salon….  Yes, I accompanied Brianna to the hair salon.  It’s a long story….don’t ask.

As Brianna disappeared behind the large glass wall for her two hour hair appointment, I settled in the nice, comfortable leather chair.  The receptionist brewed a fresh cup of coffee for me and insisted that I enjoy the free Wi-Fi.  SportsCenter was on the flat screen television directly in front of me.  I could get used to this setup. 

The Money Transaction Experience 

“Oh. My. Goodness!!!!! It looks awesome! Turn around, let me see the back!!!!!”

I can’t tell you how many times I heard a variation of this phrase.  Each time a stylist finished a client’s hair and led her to the front to checkout, other stylists and clients in the waiting room fawned over the new hairstyle.

Here’s what happened when the excitement died down:

1)      The stylist hugged the client (seriously, every client got a hug) and left the payment transaction and next appointment scheduling to the receptionist.  The stylist is there to cut and style hair (what they do best), not handle administrative transactions.

Side note: If my barber went in for a hug it would be  beyond a little strange.  

2)      The receptionist verified all contact information:

“Is your email still…..”

“Is the number to reach you still…”

This is to ensure the client receives not only a reminder for her next haircut but also so the client receives all future marketing communications from the salon.

3)      The receptionist asked, “When would you like to schedule your next appointment? Becky recommends 6 to 8 weeks, how does that work for you?”

4) Also, the client was invited to an ‘invitation only’ event featuring a semi-famous make up artist.  Complimentary food and drinks. FABULOUS!

hair-salon-art

The Getting in Your Car and Leaving Experience 

Needless to say, the client feels like a million bucks. She will probably tell at least 3 to 5 girlfriends after they comment about how good her hair looks (referrals).  This awesome customer experience is not an accident.  Management took the time to not only design and implement the experience but also train the team to execute the experience.

What’s your plan for delivering a memorable customer experience?

1)      Start by identifying the touch points your prospects and customers have with your business. Examples of touch points: your store front, your office, your website, your social media pages

2)      Pretend your a client.  Shop your own business from beginning (entering the office/store) to middle (sales process) to end (when it’s time to pay for your products/services)

3) Focus on the details – colors, design/layout, greeting, logo, furniture, music, offerings

Make each step of the experience memorable for the prospect/client. It will lead to more cross-sell opportunities, lots of repeat business and increase your referrals. All of which will put more $$$ in your pocket.

Good luck!

Batkid, Low Blood Sugar, and a Positive, Negative Customer Experience

18 Nov

I was close to literally (not really; well, maybe) biting someone’s head off. Whenever I find myself annoyed by innocent questions or by a stranger inadvertently brushing my shoulder as we pass each other on a crowded sidewalk, it’s probably the result of my low blood sugar.  It means I’ve waited three hours too long between meals and I need to get food ASAP.

San Francisco Helps Miles' Wish To Be A Superhero Come True!

Today, downtown San Francisco was busier than normal at lunch.  After reports of an armed robbery and the kidnapping of the San Francisco Giants’ mascot, police swarmed the streets.  Luckily a young superhero, Miles Scott, AKA Batkid, saved the day!  I could have used his help to fight my hunger pains, but he was plenty busy saving the city.  Excellent job, Miles!

Because several people arrived downtown to witness Batkid work his magic, there were long lines at most reputable lunch spots.  Long wait lines and Kurt’s low blood sugar are not a good combination.

Luckily, Brianna and I noticed a restaurant across the street with a short line.  It’s called ‘The Melt’, and as its slogan says, it’s grilled cheese happiness.  Ironically, I first heard about The Melt when I received a free orange ‘The Melt Rally Towel’ (pictured below) at a San Francisco Giants game last year (I’m guessing the goal of the rally towel marketing campaign was to raise awareness and get people to try it….the marketing worked…at least on us).

The Melt's Rally Towel

The Melt’s Rally Towel

Brianna ordered the Thanksgiving special grilled cheese and corn chowder soup.  I ordered a turkey grilled cheese and tomato basil soup. We patiently waited  for our meal; however, we noticed that people who ordered after us were getting their food before us. As I watched the woman who ordered 10 minutes after us tear into her grilled cheese with a smile on her face, it was time to take action. 

I’m not sure whether I’m jaded when it comes to customer service at quick serve restaurants, because I was ready for a battle.  I was completely prepared to point out every patron  with food that ordered WELL after us. It was the blood sugar; I’m normally a very calm person.

Blood Sugar Roller Coaster

Blood Sugar Roller Coaster

After I calmly explained that we had been waiting for 15 minutes, the team member immediately apologized.  He checked for the order and noticed it was stuck in their system, meaning the order was never received.  Without hesitation, he said the meal would be free.  He moved the order to the front of the line and personally delivered it to our table when it was ready.   Again, he apologized for the mix up and asked if there was anything else he could do.  He turned a negative customer experience into a very positive customer experience for us.  The food was delicious. We plan to visit The Melt again the next time we are in the financial district.

Do your team members have the authority to make decisions to ensure there’s a great customer experience…even when things go wrong?  How do you and your team react when a client has a negative experience?  It’s wise to design and implement a customer experience procedure for turning a negative customer experience into positive customer experience.

Good luck!

roller coaster image source

Marketing and Wine Attract Leads But Procedures and Workflows Convert Leads to Clients

7 Oct

Wine Marketing

“I’m sorry; our event coordinator is not on location today.  Would you like to leave a phone number and I will have her call you?” said the bartender at local winery.  I looked straight ahead, hoping I would just disappear, I knew the potential customer (lead) would not be pleased with the response from the bartender.  All I wanted to do is enjoy my glass of wine.  I didn’t want to hear an argument.

“So you are telling me I drove all the way out here for nothing?” She was not happy.  Dressed in a business suit and carrying a briefcase, the woman explained that she drove 30 minutes to meet with someone face-to-face at the winery.  She wanted information about how much it would cost to rent the venue for a private party of 50+ people.

The winery is located about 20 miles outside of Charlottesville, VA.  It’s not a convenient location to simply come back at another time.  Do you really want to rely on/tell a lead to come back at another time? No.  Should the lead have called to see whether an event planner was available? Maybe.  However, when a lead walks in your place of business during normal business hours, there should be a procedure that ensures an outstanding experience for the lead, so he or she becomes a paying client.

The winery spends a lot of marketing dollars and resources on attracting highly-qualified leads.

Marketing

The winery should create a procedure for event inquires – something like this:

A potential customer asks the bartender/staff member for information about private events

  1. Is the event coordinator available?

i.      Yes – Politely introduce the event coordinator and the lead

ii.      No – Explain that the event coordinator is currently not available at the moment

  1. The event coordinator, along with the management, should create an information packet that’s distributed when the coordinator is not available.  The packet should contain frequently asked questions as well as how to contact the event coordinator (email, phone, LinkedIn, etc.)
  2. Offer the lead a glass of wine (on the house) and ask if he or she would like to review the packet at the bar – staff member, who has been cross-trained, can either collect information from the lead to give to the coordinator or answer questions about events at the winery. The staff member should have access to the event coordinators calendar, to schedule a meeting

While it’s great to spend resources and time creating marketing campaigns that attract leads, it’s equally important to have procedures and workflows in-place to deliver a WOW experience that converts those leads to clients.  Don’t leave this to chance.

It should be fairly easy to predict how a lead interacts with your company:

–          Your website

–          Email

–          Phone

–          Your social media channels

–          Your digital ads

–          Your parking lot/front door/showroom

–          Your print ads

You should have procedures, workflows, and cross-training for your staff to ensure those leads are nurtured so they go from leads to clients.

Good luck!

An Empowered Employee….A Tuxedo…..And Customer Loyalty

24 Sep

Marketing Strategy - tux

Back in April (5 months ago) I got fitted for a tuxedo at Men’s Warehouse.  It’s not my favorite thing to do, but one of my best friends asked me to be in his wedding.  After the initial fitting, the associate gave me a coupon for 50% off the entire store.  The associate explained that it didn’t need to be used today; in fact, the coupon was good for almost 4 months.  

When I went for my final fitting at Men’s Warehouse (5 months later), I also needed to purchase a pair of khaki pants for the rehearsal dinner.  I brought my 50% coupon along with me – I’d much rather pay $35.00 than $70.00.

I noticed the expiration date had past, but I wanted to see whether the associate would still give me the discount.  Doesn’t hurt to ask, right? After the associate scanned my coupon, the register monitor read, “EXPIRED.”  The moment of truth…

The associate didn’t say a word.  I didn’t either.  Actually, he didn’t even look up to see my reaction.  He simply punched in a code to override the expiration date. I got my khakis for 50% off.  Men’s Warehouse got a loyal customer.  I will definitely be back when I need to update my wardrobe.

Are your employees empowered to make decisions that enhance the customer experience?

Good luck!

PS – Yes, I will keep a coupon for four months if it’s worth it – (50% off is worth it)! 

Marketing and Sales System Fails….Results in No Sushi for Engagement Party

18 Sep

marketing strategy breakdown

My mom was in a hurry. She always works better under pressure—don’t we all? She was hosting an engagement party for 60 people; the party was 4 days away.  Today was the day to take care of food for the guests; she decided 150 pieces of sushi would make perfect appetizers – easy to eat and delicious.

Upon entering Harris Teeter grocery store, she made a beeline to the sushi counter, brushing shoulders with anyone in her way – she was on a mission to place an order for 150 pieces of sushi.  She knew the platter likely wouldn’t be ready that day, but thought 4 days’ notice was surely enough time to prepare the sushi.  Unfortunately, her customer experience at Harris Teeter resulted in a lost sale for the grocery store and an unhappy customer. 

When she arrived at the sushi counter, she was greeted by a Harris Teeter team member.  When she asked where to place an order for a sushi platter, the Harris Teeter team member responded that the sushi team members were not available at this time.  The team member said, “You might want to come back in like an hour or two.”   And my mom’s reaction was, “Did they really just tell me to comeback in an hour? Oh. No. They. Didn’t! That one response cost Harris Teeter around $120.00.  Maybe a drop in the bucket to the big grocery store chain, but I’m sure it’s frustrating for management.

Think about how much money it spends on marketing materials and sales associates to sell its products.

Is the team member at fault or is it managements fault for not properly training the team member?  Any team member that wanders close to the catering section should know what to do when the main contact is not available.  The team member should have a short contact form for the customer to complete, and maybe give the customer a $5.00 or $10.00 off coupon (better yet – have the authority to give a small discount) to redeem when placing the order.

Do you have procedures for capturing your incoming leads? Design a customer experience for each customer touchpoint, and be sure to include a contingency plan and cross-train team members so you don’t lose sales. 

Good Luck!

Remember: Create Marketing Campaigns for Your Target Market….Not Your Team!

19 Aug
Patonback

We love our new marketing piece….

I recently had a meeting to discuss marketing strategy with an extremely successful small business owner.  He was concerned about his most recent marketing piece  – it wasn’t generating leads.  The brochure looked extremely professional, complete with stock photographs and technical language that would make any English professor celebrate and break out the Carlton danceIt was slick.

His staff loved it and gave it rave reviews—his entire team thought it was a home run – so why was it a total flop?

The target market was thoroughly confused by the ad copy. The brochure was too professional. Also, his target market is price sensitive. When they looked at the slick design and professional, stock photos, they quickly determined that my client’s company must be way too expensive.

You need to speak the same language as your target. They likely won’t stop to look up that fancy lingo that’s only used only by the people in your profession. 

The lesson I took away: Don’t rely solely on your team for feedback.  Ask a few people, preferably your target market, what they think of the piece before you spend more money.  Do they understand the marketing piece?

Remember: You’re not trying to sell your products and services to your team; you’re selling to your target market. 

Good luck!

100 Bottles of Beer on the…..Does Your Marketing Strategy Include Shareable Experiences?

12 Aug

You’ve seen it. You’ve probably done it.  I’m guilty.  You are at an amazing restaurant, or maybe you’re on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation.  You stop to take a photo either in front of a famous landmark or in front of something your friends and/or Facebook stalkers will think is cool.

You upload it to Facebook and check-in at the location.  You get lots of ‘likes’ and a few witty comments from your friends.  The business gets lots of free marketing exposure.

Do you have a shareable experience? If creating shareable experiences isn’t part of your marketing strategy, it’s time to QUICKLY rethink your strategy.  You don’t have to own a famous landmark; you can create something unique that people will want to share with others.  Here’s an example from a local brewery that opened a few weeks ago:

100 bottles of beer on the wall! Are shareable experiences part of your marketing strategy?

Are shareable experiences part of your marketing strategy?

I counted three different people taking their photos in front of the 100 bottles of beer on the wall.  We both know those photos were uploaded along with a check-in at the new, local hot spot.  How many people do you think saw that check-in and photo, and thought, “Cool! Let’s go check out the new restaurant in town?”

What’s your shareable experience?

Good luck!

Kid Smashes Face, Restaurant Gets Another Sale: An Easy Way to Increase Revenue

7 Aug

After I finished my coffee and stuffed my face with a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich this morning, I asked the waitress for the bill.  The bill normally comes in that black American Express or Visa folder looking thing.  That’s not the case at Howard’s Station Café.  This is what the bill looks like:

Howard's cross-sell tactic

Howard’s cross-sell tactic

A magnetic square with the Howard’s Cafe magnet securing the bill and a message that reads, “Magnets For Sale at Counter.” 

Not only is this a unique way to deliver the final bill, but also a gentle reminder that you (or your small child) can purchase a magnet at the front when you checkout.  “Mommy! Daddy! Grandma! Grandpa! I want one of those magnets!!!” Any relative/friend/caretaker is more than happy to pay the extra $1.00 for the magnet, in order to prevent an all-out meltdown.  That’s another sale for Howard’s.

Guess what else is at the counter?  Three separate glass jars filled with three different kinds of homemade cookies.  The glass jars filled with cookies are on top of a glass case filled with other homemade desserts.  During my 30 minute breakfast, I witnessed two kids smash their face against the glass, hoping mom would buy a piece of cake for breakfast or an afternoon snack.  One kid got his wish.  Howard’s got another sale.

Do you have a cross strategy as part of your marketing plan and user experience?  Failure to implement a cross-sell marketing strategy leaves lots of money on the table.  What can you do to enhance the customer experience with a well-executed cross-sell marketing strategy? 

Good luck!

Why I Will Pay More to Fly All Nippon Airways on My Next International Flight

12 Jul
allnippon

Excellent customer experience!

By: Kurt Hunter

The customer/user experience was fantastic:

–          Upgraded, without request, to a seat with more legroom when I checked my baggage.  The associate said, “You are pretty tall – how about a seat with more legroom?” Okay….what’s the catch?

–          Greeted by a well-dressed associate who bowed and said, “Good morning” …..with a genuine smile (gasp) as I boarded the plane – where am I?

–          A package containing a pillow, blanket, and headphones were waiting at my seat – how much extra is this going to cost?

–          Received a hot towel to moisten my face and hands when we reached cruising altitude

–          Two bottles of water were next to me when I woke up from a 5-hour nap.  The flight attendant said she thought I might be thirsty….uhhh..WHAT? You actually put some thought into what I might want? 

–          Received recommendations for trying Japanese cuisine during the flight

–          Served my choice of tea during the flight

–          Greeted with a bow and a genuine “Thank You” as I deplaned

–          Every customer request was greeted with a smile and a bow

It was by far the best service I’ve experienced on an airline.  It’s obvious to me that the leadership of All Nippon Airways spent a great deal of time on customer/user experience.  It was almost as if the flight attendants and others All Nippon Airways staff knew what I wanted before I knew what I wanted.  That’s excellent customer experience.

Do you anticipate your customers’ wants and desires? Do you monitor customer behavior and tailor your products/services to those behaviors? Do you create the systems and train your staff to deliver a seamless, WOW experience for your customers?

Good luck.

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