Attracting New Customers and Increasing Your Referrals this Year!

Christmas, Hanukkah, and the Seasonal Parties are starting to become fond memories for most of us.  Many businesses are focused on the New Year and thinking about what to do different.  New Year Resolutions have come up in almost every conversation I have had this week with businesses owners.

moneytreeEverything from growing the business, increasing referrals, getting more involved with the community, attending more networking events, creating more systems, increasing marketing, adding more staff, and list goes on and on.  The greatest thing about all these conversations is how many businesses seem to really be thinking about what they can do different.  How they can really improve and grow their business this year.

For my businesses focus seems to be at the top of my list.  Really identifying where I need to spend my time and making sure I hold myself accountable to where my time is spent is number one for me!  I have really thought about what my highest income producing activities are for each of my businesses and where I want these businesses to go this year.  By doing this exercise I have now identified actionable items and activities which I should do each day to achieve these goals.  I am now in the process of listing these activities and creating daily, weekly, and monthly goals for each one.

Once this is complete I will have this document in front of me each day.  It will work like a check list insuring I am doing the action items and activities on a consistent basis which will lead to my desired results.

My questions for you are what are you thinking about this week?  What are you changing in your business to insure a great 2010?  Are you willing to take the steps necessary for your success?  Are you going to attend one more networking event each month this year?  Are you going to join BNI, LeTip, or you local Chamber of Commerce?  Are you going to learn more about Social Media and how to use Social Media in your business?  Are you going to follow up with every lead you receive?  Are you going to follow up with every person you meet?  Are you going to thank the customers that buy from you each month?  Are you going to create more meaningful relationships this year?

Take a moment and share with us what you are going to do to insure your success in 2010 by joining the conversation and leaving a comment!

Sending Holiday Cards to Your Customers is a Waste of Time!

Did I get your attention?  You only have a few days left to get this task done.  Are you are one of the many business owners or sales professionals who still have this task on your list?  You may even have a stack of holiday cards sitting on your desk ready to go.  But at some point in the past month or most likely many times you decided to put it off, wait until tomorrow, or maybe take care of writing and sending your holiday greeting cards over one of the past weekends.

And now you find yourself exactly where you don’t want to be, 15 days before the big holiday, no holiday greeting Holiday-cards-assortmentcards in the mail.  You have a decision to make…  Do you stop everything and send those holiday cards out or do you just forget about it?

The answer? STOP EVERYTHING AND GET IT DONE NOW! This may seem a bit crazy or even bias because you know I am a big SendOutCards user and often promote using SendOutCards on Follow Up Success.  Card sending is an important step in your follow up process and holiday card sending is almost at the top.

Here are my top three reasons why you should stop everything and send out your holiday greeting cards now:

  1. Appreciating your customers and prospects – Every single one of your customers enjoys being appreciated and the holidays is a great time to say thank you for the past business you have received.  Prospects can easily be turned into customers by simply saying thank you for learning more about you and your business while wishing for them a great holiday with family and friends.
  2. Reestablishing the business relationship – One of my goals for 2010 is to create stronger relationships with my customers and prospects.  By sending holiday cards I will reestablish past relationships that I may have let slip through the cracks.  This is important when you reach out to past customers or prospects in the New Year as you will have recent contact.
  3. Top of Mind Awareness – This is the big one!  Creating top of mind awareness with your customers and prospects when they are surrounded by their closest friends and family is an essential step in your follow up and referral strategy.  If you are top of mind with your customer or prospect they are more likely to bring you and your business up in conversation or think about you for a potential referral.

Hopefully I have encouraged you to take action!  Maybe, you have already picked up that box of holiday cards from your desk or floor and have starting filling them out.  Possibly, you have too many cards to send and feel hopeless!  If you are feeling hopeless SendOutCards would be the best gift to give yourself this holiday season!  With my help within a few hours you can have all of your holiday cards in the mail each personalized with your message.  To learn more about SendOutCards or to set up your account visit my Follow Up Tools page or contact me.  I am more than happy to help you through this process!

Whether you use SendOutCards, go buy cards from the store, or use the cards you already have, just get it done!  Stop everything and do this now!  I promise you it’s worth the time.

Do you have great business success stories from sending cards?  Please tell us all about it by leaving a comment!

Send Thanksgiving Cards to Follow Up With Your Clients!

There are many reasons to send greeting cards to your customers. General follow up thank you cards, birthday cards, customer appreciation cards, and of course holiday cards. All of these customer follow up greeting cards should be a standard marketing practice for any business.

thanksgiving-greeting-cardOne of my favorite opportunities to reach out to existing customers and create stronger relationships is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving after all is all about gratitude and what better way to show gratitude to your customers than by sending them a Thanksgiving card and letting them know how much you appreciate their business?

I truly believe in sending Thanksgiving cards to follow up with your customers and prospects. In fact I have recent memories of handwriting over 500 Thanksgiving cards to my clients not too long ago. This was a huge and exhausting task with each card containing two or three lines of personalized text. I spent well over two months completing this process! And while I was all gung-ho to send out holiday greeting cards to my clients as well… It was just not going to happen. I had all the holiday cards on my desk but could not get them completed in the two remaining weeks I had left. At the time I remember thinking there must be a better to get this done… Of course there is a better way and I discovered it about six months later. The next time I mailed Thanksgiving cards to my clients I sent 600 and did them all in about four hours instead of two months! I used an incredible system called SendOutCards and you can learn more about this process by visiting my Follow Up Tools page.

There are many reasons to send out Thanksgiving cards to your clients, prospects, and referral sources. The main one being appreciation. Everyone likes to be acknowledged and appreciated and when you do this your clients will do more business with you, prospects will start doing business with you, and your referral sources will send you even more referrals.

Now is the time! Start following up with your customers and prospects today with Thanksgiving cards!

Creating a Follow Up Strategy

alan-underkofler-house-of-bluesLast week I had the opportunity to speak at the Cool Twitter Conferences at the House of Blues in Hollywood.  My topic for my discussion was Using twitter to Attract More Clients, Increase Your Referrals, and Maintain Top of Mind Awareness With Your Customers.  It’s a big topic about using twitter one of the hottest social media sites as a follow up tool.

I started the discussion with a question…  Are you giving business to your competitors?  The answer for many businesses is YES!  Have you heard this before?  “The fortune is in the follow up” or the really overused yet clearly correct “People do business with people they Know, LIKE, and TRUST!”  These are great statements and both are true yet many businesses do not have any follow up strategy and don’t really understand how to create the “know, like, and trust” feeling with their clients and prospects.

So what is a follow up strategy?  It’s about creating a system for follow up which will be used with every new client, prospect, or referral source.  The system could look something like this:

New Customer Follow Up System:

  • Day 1  – new customer welcome email
  • Day 1  – new customer welcome card
  • Day 1 – new customer welcome tweet on twitter
  • Week 2 – follow up phone call checking to insure client is happy with purchase
  • Week 4 – follow up card “It’s been 30 days since your purchase and we want to make sure you are happy”
  • Week 4 – follow up tweet on twitter similar to the week 4 card
  • Week 8 – follow up phone call just “checking in”
  • Week 12 – follow up card Discussion additional products or services you might offer

I can keep going but you have the idea right?  The best way to increase your referrals with your customers and clients is to have a follow up strategy in place.  Of course having it in place is only the first step!  You must be committed to your strategy, you want to make sure once you start following up you keep it going!  You might want to read a previous post, Creating Great Follow UP With Your Clients in 7 Simple Steps where I went into more detail about this process.

Do you have a follow up strategy?  Please take a moment and tell us what you are doing by leaving a comment.

Two Simple Follow Up Strategies for Speakers and Presenters

Two very simple follow up ideas for Speakers and Presenters.  Yes even Speakers and Presenters need to follow up!  This week I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at the Encinitas Rotary group about using Social Media to follow up and engage customers.  I have to admit the setting for this discussion was perfect, the room was right on the water with a wall of glass facing the ocean.  The room felt like the ocean was coming right in with each incoming wave!

After the discussion I had spent some time outside listening, viewing, and enjoying the beautiful day.  When I was about to leave I decided to make this short video on follow up to share with you how I will follow up with the members of this group.  Here is the video:

Two simple steps:

  • Send an email to each person thanking them for the opportunity to speak at their meeting
  • Mail each person a thank you card

As a Speaker and Presenter why would I want to take these two follow up steps?  I can think of many great reasons but I will focus on the basics.  It’s about building upon the relationship I have started.  This group just listened to me talk for an hour.  To this group I would be considered an expert or go to person in social media, follow up, and referral strategies.  The opportunity from speaking is to continue the relationship!  If I do this effectively I will naturally receive clients, referrals, and additional speaking engagements.

Are you a speaker, presenter, or trainer?  Please let me know the methods you are using to follow up with your audience by leaving a comment.

Can I Give You A Referral?

On my last post I highlighted Make A Referral Week 2009. The goal was to generate 1,000 referrals to 1,000 deserving small businesses in one week. I am happy to report the goal was met and I am excited to see Referral Week happen again with a much larger goal!

This week I had the pleasure of talking to one of my favorite people Stuart Manley from ChannelPoint, Inc., a Toronto, ON human resource company specializing in cross border HR. After talking to Stuart I thought of another friend Art Kriegsmann. Art is the CEO of H.R. SERV., Inc. based in San Diego, CA. The conversation with Stuart prompted me to refer both Stuart and Art to each other. I referred them because they both specialize in different areas and could possibly be a great referral source for one another.

The example points out one of the most overlooked referrals we can make. We all love to receive direct referrals which will lead to a new client. Sometimes our best referrals are not a direct referral but someone who can continually give us referrals over time. Creating referral partners, power partners, or fantastic referral sources should be a major part of your referral strategy.

To create a referral source think about the businesses in your network who may serve your ideal client. Possibly a company you notice working with the same clients you have. Once you identify such a company or industry reach out to them and talk about the possibility of sending referrals to one another. This strategy could make the difference of your business maintaining sales this year or possibly growing another 10, 20, or 50 percent! And for those of you who may watch the news or if you happen to still read the paper… Yes I did say you can grow your business in this economy!

If you are still reading this post I have one question for you. Can I give you a referral?

Do you have a company or client you have been trying to reach? Do you know who your ideal client or referral partner is? How can I or the readers give you a referral? Leave your referral request as a comment and let’s see if we can help each other!

Networking Basics: I don’t Wear a Name Badge! Everyone Knows Me!

I definitely have to admit I have fallen into this trap many times!  It does happen, you go to a Chamber Mixer or a Rotary meeting every week and feel like you know everyone and everyone knows you…  While this may or may not be true you still must where a name badge!

The bottom line is while everyone may know or recognize you, it is very possible they do not remember your name.  For this reason alone people may avoid you rather than face the embarrassment of not knowing your name.  Of course most groups have a flow of visitors consistently attending to check out the group.  As a member of any group you want these visitors to feel welcomed!  Name badges make it easy for visitors to interact with members.  Name badges help create a great experience for the visitor.  A visitor who has a great experience visiting a new group is more likely to join when you follow up with them!

My last thoughts on name badges are where to put them.  I mean does it really matter where you place your name badge or is it good enough just to have one?  While thinking about this I am remembering all the people I have met with name badges placed on a shirt which is great except they were wearing a jacket which completely covered the badge.  I have no great study which proves one area is better than another.  I do know when I go to shake a hand of a friend or someone I have just met I reach out with my right hand.  Because of this I always wear my name badge on the right side of my shirt so when I reach out to the other person they can clearly see my name badge. This allows the person to easily use my name in conversation and actually makes them more comfortable around me.

If you really want to meet more people consider wearing your name badge everywhere you go!  Realtors and Mortgage brokers seem to do this a lot.  What about you?  Can you be the guy who wears a name tag everywhere?

I know this is pretty simple information and to some of you maybe too obvious.  The bottom line is wearing a name badge to every event is great business networking habit which we all must have to insure our business networking success!

John Assaraf on the Power of Why

This week I had the great opportunity to meet will John Assaraf to discuss the Global Hug Tour, a great new cause inspired by Gail Goodwin from Inspire Me Today.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how John and his company One Coach might play a role in the tour.

During our meeting we had a conversation about the why behind the Global Hug Tour.  John was very passionate about having a strong why.  If your why is strong enough then the how will become clear.  The Global Hug Tour is a huge project with many moving parts which seem to be growing bigger with each day.  The important part of this project is everything is coming together.  Because the why is so strong it allows the how to truly present itself in the form of people stepping up to play a role, people buying hugs to support the tour, and both private and corporate sponsors taking a big interest in supporting the tour.

Bringing this back to follow up…  How does having a great why help you in follow up?  Follow up is one of those things we all know we should do!  Having a great why will help you take the action steps like following up to achieve your desired goal.  Your goal might be additional sales, revenue, customers, or referrals, whatever your goal is make sure you have a powerful why to keep you on track!

For anyone who may not know, John Assaraf is the founder of One Coach, was in the wildly successful movie The Secret and his current book The Answer: Grow Any Business, Achieve Financial Freedom, and Live an Extraordinary Life is a New York Times Best Seller.

Holiday Follow Up: Greeting Cards, Postcards, and E-cards

Today you have many choices when it comes to holiday cards.  The choice of holiday greeting cards is enormous, and we cannot forget holiday letters, postcards, and e-cards.  As business owners and sales professionals what are the best practices?  In my opinion, holiday greeting cards should be your only choice!

Holiday cards: You have many options here!  Sure you can go to your local Hallmark store or grocery store to pick up your greeting cards.  In fast the top two greeting card companies Hallmark and American Greetings which print most of the greeting cards on the market would love for you to do just that!  It’s fairly simple, find a greeting card selection which will reflect your business in a good light, lock yourself in your office for the day and get to work!

Holiday letters: I have already received a few holiday letters from friends and businesses.  These are nice and typically very personal when coming from friends and family.  I would not recommend these for a business greeting.  Sending a gift with a letter is a pretty common practice but in my opinion if you are spending the time and money to send a gift why not include a greeting card as well?  Skip the basic form letter and add a personal note to a greeting card instead.

Holiday Postcards: Thinking this is a great cost saving alternative to mailing holiday cards is a big mistake. When I think of postcards the first thought that comes to mind is junk mail.  It does not matter how much time you put into your postcard design or the amazing copy you have come up with, in the end it’s just a postcard and it will leave a neutral or negative impression.

E-cards: The crazy popularity of e-cards has come and gone.  Some may say this is a great alternative to sending holiday greeting cards in the mail.  I would encourage you to consider the conversation I had with Jeff Hans real estate agent on Team-Q at Re/Max Realty.  Jeff mentioned a conversation he had with another business owner just last week.  The business owner asked if he had received his e-card.  Jeff had to think about it for a minute and then acknowledged he had received it.  The business owner asked what Jeff thought and his response was the following: “I receive over 200 emails per day so receiving your e-card was just another email”.  Jeff suggested that next year he mail holiday greeting cards instead of sending e-cards!

My last thought for your holiday cards choices.  I mentioned the top two greeting card companies Hallmark and American Greetings so I thought I should mention the greeting card company I have used for my holiday cards, birthday cards, thank you cards, and just everyday cards for the last two years.  The company is called SendOutCards and it just so happens SendOutCards is the number three greeting card company.

I think the most important thing to remember is to get your holiday cards out.  It is by far the easiest follow up touch you can do this week and with each follow up touch you do you increase the awareness your customers and prospects have with you.  This increased awareness will result in increased business and referrals!

Increase Referrals and Attract More Clients by Sending Holiday Cards

For years I have been sending holiday cards.  I remember back in my corporate days signing hundreds of cards to clients and vendors.  The process then was to have a stack of 300 to 500 cards passed from one office to the next as we attempted to have all the employees sign the cards.  I admit some years I signed the cards and at times my assistant signed them for me.  I did not fully understand why I was sending them to begin with.  What difference is one holiday card going to make?

After completing my corporate ladder climb and realizing I no longer wanted to work for someone but instead wanted to build my own company, I began the journey of owning and building a promotional marketing company.  Through this process I had many great experiences.  One that comes to mind is sending holiday cards each year to my clients and prospects.  One of these prospects never actually purchased my services but I sent them a holiday card anyway.  The result of this simple holiday card came six months later.  The prospect called me for a new project and became a new customer.  I remember asking her why she decided to call almost one year later.  Her response was surprising!  She said she received my holiday card and actually kept it for months after the holiday as she was so impressed I would spend the time to send her a card even though our project never materialized.  She called me because I sent her a holiday card!

Here are few of the most important reasons why you should be sending holiday cards:

  • Holiday cards are another touch in the connection process with your customers.
  • Holiday cards give you an opportunity to express your appreciation to your customers.
  • Your customers will receive holiday cards from your largest competitors!
  • Customers will not always remember who sent cards but most will remember who did not!
  • Holiday cards put you at the top of your customers mind, this allows for more business and referrals.
  • Sending holiday cards is an example of great customer service.
  • Sending holiday cards gives you an opportunity to touch people within a company that you may not have access to.   An example of this could be the CEO of your best customer whom you have only met once.

Holiday card sending used to be a huge time commitment; this is not the case anymore!   Holiday cards can be very expensive however now you have very cost effective options which you cannot afford not to take advantage of!  (Future posts will have some great time saving and cost effective services for holiday cards.  If you need help now let me know by leaving a comment and I will send you my favorite resources.)

If you are one of those companies who have already mailed your cards I congratulate you!  Sending holiday cards should be a part of every companies marketing plan, it’s one of those personal touches you must do.  If you are in the procrastination stage of holiday card sending, I encourage you to get it done.  Get it done today!  Commit to yourself to mail all of your cards out this week, it will be worth it I promise!

A special note to those who have already decided not to mail holiday cards this year.  I challenge you to rethink your reasoning.  Many people have decided to cut this out because of time, cost, or just clear laziness.  You cannot afford not to connect with your clients and vendors.  Take the time to mail out holiday cards!  Consider sending cards to your top 100 clients and referral sources.  Sending holiday cards is one of my favorite follow up methods because it is an opportunity to create a personal touch in your business s relationship.

Look for my post tomorrow on the do’s and don’ts of holiday card sending!

Remember if you need help with your holiday card or gift sending options this year make a comment and I will respond to you with a few great resources that I will be covering this week.