Creating Passionate Clients: Grow Your Business with
By Marsha Lindquist
wants powerful word-of-mouth advertising for their business. When your
satisfied clients refer new business to you because you’ve done your
job and done it well, you increase your revenue and need to spend less
time and money on marketing and advertising. Does it get any better?
Well, yes it could!
addition to sending you referral business for new clients, your
current clients should be cultivated for their repeat business.
Relationship marketing is the practice of using the positive feelings
of your existing clients to generate more work for yourself, perhaps
in new areas as you expand your offerings.
market to your current clients, you can avoid dreaded cold-calling,
minimize marketing and advertising costs, and get a guaranteed higher
rate of return on the time and money you do spend marketing to those
who already know and love your work, as opposed to the difficulty and
expense of pursuing potential new clients who don’t know how well
you do what you do. Consider these five easy marketing steps that can
help you in your quest to create passionate clients.
1. Get client feedback. To understand what you do well and what
needs improvement, survey your clients at the end of an assignment or
once a year. This allows invaluable real-time feedback on your work
and also helps you to continue your relationship with the client
beyond the project, which in turn improves your chances of getting
more work from them.
take clients to lunch and talk one-on-one; you can find out more that
way than you can with a phone conversation or office visit.
begin each project, let the client know that you will want some
feedback at the project’s end, especially if you are at some
distance from your clients and can’t take them to lunch. E-mail the
questions ahead of time even if you will be able to meet in person, so
they have some time to prepare and won’t feel caught off-guard.
most useful feedback, ask questions that get them to think and
communicate their feelings about you and the work you did. Try
adapting these questions to your business:
“In past assignments or a recent project we did
for you, what do you think worked well? What did you love about
“What did you gain from the experience of
working with us? What have you been able to implement as a result
of the work?”
“What could we have improved on as we worked
with you? Is there anything you feel we could have done more or
less of? Did you hope for anything that you didn’t get?” (The
idea here is to ask questions that will uncover future client
needs, not necessarily anything you didn’t do well.)
forget: This exercise is meant to generate their comments, so let
your client talk.
2. Give away information freely and frequently. Who doesn’t like
to get stuff that’s free? By giving selected pieces of information
away at no charge and on a regular basis—through e-zines, seminars,
teleseminars, booklets, and articles—you can give clients something
they’ve never seen before, opening their minds to new possibilities
for using your services.
with new ways you can give your clients information about you to
remind them of what you know. Get them thinking about what they could
be doing differently in their own organizations and about how you
might help them with that.
worry that they won’t hire you because you’ve already given them
everything they need free! You’re only giving them a tantalizing
taste of what you know and can do, not the whole meal. Design the
information so they know that behind what you’re giving them lies a
host of other important information with practical application in their
organization. In other words, this information you offer for free only
hints at your expertise and how best to apply that knowledge so that
it works for them.
3. Create a positive stir. While it may not be entirely true that
bad publicity is better than no publicity, there is nothing wrong with
doing something a little edgy, even a little outrageous, to generate
positive buzz and potential new clientele. Do whatever it takes to get
your name out there in the public eye in a light-hearted, positive
You can do
this by publishing cutting edge articles in trade journals that help
you make a name for yourself. Or try throwing an event that gets
people’s attention and puts your good reputation out there. Cold
Stone Creamery, for example, caused a stir by simply putting an
attention-grabbing banner across the front of their corporate
headquarters, a building that faced a major highway. It didn’t
matter what the banner said; in fact, many people can’t even
remember, but so many drivers noticed it that it caused traffic jams,
and the county gave the company five days to take the banner down.
This little controversy boosted sales.
this “positive stir” help cultivate relationships with current
clients? When your current clients see or hear of others using your
products or services, they remember how great you are to work with.
You’re now back on their radar screen, and if they need what you
offer, they’ll come back to you, even if they’ve been approached
by other companies who offer the same thing as you.
4. Build a client community. Look for opportunities to invite clients and key stakeholders to come
together in a fun, relaxing social setting so all of your clients can
have a chance to get to know one another. This creates a synergy among
your clients; what you do for one client may be something you could do
for another client. If you have an accounting firm, for example, host
a Tax Day barbecue in front of your office. Or gather clients to
celebrate a business anniversary. Host a free educational seminar or
teleseminar to bring your client community together so that they learn
from one another the other possibilities of working with you.
introducing clients, you’re helping them to network, and when they
start talking, they’ll inevitably talk about you, hopefully in
glowing terms. Very often you’ll find that soon after your clients
talk to each other, your
phone will ring when one or the other of them calls you.
clients all over the globe and “get together” events aren’t
possible, you can still virtually get your clients talking to each
other. You can start an e-mail discussion group, an online bulletin
board, or a fan web site. Additionally, put real customers in your
advertising and marketing pieces. Another aspect of creating community
is giving your customers a feel for the “real” people behind your
company, so also put real people on your web site (not just the CEO),
put faces on your business cards, and write customer case studies that
show how you have a proven track record. Clients need to feel they are
a part of your community of other customers, so make it easy for them
to see all the other people or companies you help.
5. Offer samples of other capabilities. Your newer clients may know
you and appreciate your
expertise, but they’re only familiar with one aspect of the work
you’re capable of. Offering live examples of what you can do,
thorough a seminar, for example, can show current clients what you
have to offer that is ancillary to your primary work. If your
financial planning business has corporate clients whose personal
business you’d like, invite them to an estate planning seminar. Or
give two top executives in one of your corporate clients’ offices
early retirement planning kits or access to a free downloadable
product to pique their interest in your firm for their personal needs.
don’t worry that you’re giving away the farm when you offer a
sampling of your knowledge to entice a client to do further business
with you. A seminar is just a live version of your e-zines and
articles; it should introduce your clients who’ve concentrated their
work with you in one aspect of your business to other things that you
do. And teleseminars and booklets for your out-of-town clients should
just leave them wanting more of your great work.
Communication Builds Confidence—and Clientele! Like any good
relationship, this sort of marketing works best when you and your
clients have excellent communication. What are you doing to
demonstrate to your clients that you produce the results you promise?
If you try any or all of these five steps, you’ll know, because
they’ll tell you. These five steps will lead you to more open
communication with your current clients, and with greater
communication comes more opportunities for work from clients with whom
you already have an excellent relationship. You’ll know everything
you need to know about what your client wants and needs, and you
become their indispensable solution!
Read other articles and learn more
about Marsha Lindquist.
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