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by Bill Gallagher Ph.D.
We've been exploring some no-cost marketing tips that will have a big impact on your small business. Keep in mind that by definition a small business is one whose annual sales are under $5 million. That covers a lot of North American firms. I focus on these businesses because there are so many of them. Nearly a million of them start up every year. Two out of three will be out of business in under five years. The biggest problem is poor attention to sales and marketing. That's where I come in.
A technique, not always understood by some is called "follow-up." Everybody knows that you need to follow-up with your customers, but when? And why? Let's start with why.
The first purpose of following-up is to make sure what the customer bought was delivered. This may appear to be an over simplification.
I probably ought to remind you that the number one complaint of all American consumers continues to be that the experience they thought they were going to have at your establishment didn't match what they found. Said another way, what they thought they ordered wasn't delivered.
Okay, so you're going to follow-up with your customers. Now, when is the best time to do this? Well, upon delivery, just to make sure everything's fine.
The second reason to follow-up, the second follow-up, is to get referrals. When is the best time to do this? The answer is within 30 days after delivery. This time, in marketing circles, is called The Time of Supreme Customer Satisfaction. You show up and say something like, 1. "How are you enjoying your new whatever?" 2. "If you were me, who would you call on next?" Often, they'll tell you about a friend who had admired the new whatever.
On a similar subject, studies have shown, over and over again that the more contact time you spend with customers, the more loyalty they will have for you and your services. Were not talking about building friendships; we're talking about more contact time for business relationships.
One excellent way to do this is to more deeply explore the customer needs relative to your firm. First level needs are rarely the whole story. There are probably more profound and more meaningful subconscious needs underneath that first look. When you spend enough time with your customers to find out their emotional needs and feelings about your products you'll usually have a customer for life.
Here's another generally unsuspected customer relationship tip. Your enthusiasm for your profession and for your unique approach will win you more customers. Let all of know how happy you are to be in your particular business. Remember we're all in the problem-solving, people-pleaser business.
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