As a small business owner, one of the most important marketing ideas you can implement is the personal touch. From the way you greet your clients on the phone or when they enter your business to the handwritten notes or flowers you send them for special occasions or just because. A genuine, personal touch helps you build relationship with each and every client, truly differentiating your business from your competitors.
Yet there are no shortcuts to developing relationships in life or in business. It takes time to get to know your clients. It takes time to understand what is important to them, their likes and dislikes. Just like with relationships in life, you must make developing these relationships a priority. They won’t form by themselves without effort on your part.
I recently received a handwritten thank you note from a company with which I had invested substantially. I was less than blown away by their service and would never recommend using them or give them a referral. Their thank you note and follow up referral letter was a prime example of taking a short cut on a relationship that they had not taken the time or put the effort into building.
Here are a three lessons small business owners can learn from this company who missed the mark in developing a genuine, personal touch:
1) Address your client by their first name in any handwritten correspondence. This handwritten thank you note was addressed to The Verbeck Family. Not to Erin and Chris. If you want a referral from me, I’d hope you would know my name. Especially after I have invested thousands of dollars over a period of 8 weeks with you.
2) Don’t use a script for writing personal notes. Make it truly personal and individual to the person you’re sending it to. If you can’t do that, then don’t waste your time. The thank you note I received included this sentence: “We realize for many of you this is a life long dream.” This is a PERSONAL thank you note, yet it’s written as advertising copy that would appear on a website. The feeling of appreciation this company was attempting to express totally missed the mark with this sentence alone.
3) Before asking for a referral, survey your client to make sure they are satisfied with your service. I had to laugh when receiving a referral ‘check’ for $500 to be cashed in if I referred someone to this business. If they had taken the time to develop the relationship with me, they would have understood my concerns with their service, worked to remedy them and then possibly been deserving of a referral.
There are no shortcuts to a genuine, personal relationship with our clients. Yet when you invest in developing them, they will pay off for years to come. What do you do in your small business that is unique to foster relationships with your clients?