By Mark Creedon
Winners are grinners – why being first off the blocks is so important
Now is the perfect time to get competitive in business.
Today we look at the things that you can do to win big with your customers and outclass your rivals.
Let’s face it, being first off the block is absolutely crucial if you want to win gold and similarly being first in the mind of your customers is equally critical if you want to win or retain their business.
Adopting the same techniques and attitudes used by Olympic athletes will help get you there.
Determination, consistency, commitment and focus – these things will see you annihilate your competition and put you in the number one position in the eyes of your customers.
I understand that you might be a little sceptical of this advice but let me assure you that this concept has worked for me in my business on many occasions.
Let me give you an example.
A few years ago I was referred to a businesswoman who was looking to grow her business.
After our initial meeting she was very keen to begin working with us and we locked in a date for her first coaching session for the following week.
The day before her session the businesswoman called my office to cancel and said that she would make contact again in a few days to reschedule.
After a week we still hadn’t heard from her, so we followed up with a quick courtesy call.
During that conversation she explained that she wasn’t quite ready to start her coaching program at this point in time.
We told her that postponing was perfectly fine, that we completely understood, and that we would keep in touch with her now and again to find out how she was travelling.
We followed through on that promise in several ways.
We added her to our newsletter list, we called her now and again to check in and see how she was going, we sent her a card on her birthday and on her anniversary.
We emailed her a newspaper article that was relevant to her industry, we dropped in to see her for a coffee when we were in the area and we subscribed to her newsletter so that we kept up with the latest news.
After eighteen months the businesswoman called us to let us know that she was ready to start her coaching program.
This is a perfect example of how being determined, focused and consistent can turn a loss into a win.
And we all love to win! After all, winners are grinners!
What about your existing customers too?
How can you use these principles to keep them happy and encourage them to buy more from you, more often?
Well, like I always say, you don’t just want customers, what you really want are raving fans.
A raving fan is completely loyal to your company.
They are happy to purchase your products or services time and time again and more importantly they let everyone else know about it! Here are a few things that you can do in your business to conjure up some raving fans of your own.
Keep in contact with your customers regularly
I communicate with my clients on a regular basis and maintain contact with even those I haven’t heard from regularly.
Obviously, there is a fine line between staying in touch and being a pest, but I would think that maintaining contact on a monthly or bi-monthly basis would be perfectly reasonable.
One of the things that you can do to avoid being labelled a pest is to maintain communication in different forms.
For instance, you might email your customers a weekly tip, followed by a monthly or bi-monthly newsletter, a new product update or a special offer in the mail.
Every few months you may choose to invite your customers to a product launch, workshop, function or celebration.
A few simple rules to consider in your communications is to keep it relevant (make sure you let your customers know what’s in it for them), keep it interesting and always include a call to action for any promotions or special offers.
For those of you who were wondering, a call to action are words that urge the reader, listener, or viewer of a promotional message to take immediate action.
These can be words such as “Write Now”, “Call Now” or (for use on the Internet) “Click Here.”
An advertisement or promotion without a call to action is usually considered incomplete and ineffective.
Give your customers a gift or card on special occasions
Gathering customer information such as birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions and other significant dates will give you a genuine reason for contacting your customer on a regular basis.
You’ll be surprised at how truly impressed and appreciative customers can be when they receive a simple birthday or anniversary card.
It’s a very simple process to keep track of, particularly with the assistance of data management software which you can obtain cheaply or as part of your software package.
A hand-written birthday card only takes a few minutes of your time but will leave a long-lasting impression on a customer, prospective customer, or supplier.
Implement a rewards program or loyalty card
Customer loyalty and reward programs are an excellent way to actually acknowledge the value that each customer brings to your business.
Banks and airlines have been implementing loyalty and reward programs successfully for many years, but the concept can work in any business of any size.
It doesn’t need to be complicated either you can have customer loyalty cards printed, you can keep record of customer loyalty and rewards on your database (which is a very clever thing to do), or you can simply make sure that you know your customers well enough that their return business is rewarded with at the very least an acknowledgement but preferably with some kind of actual physical reward.
Also, remember that loyalty and reward programs are only effective if they are implemented properly so there is little point in having a very fancy reward program if in fact its execution and follow through by you or your team is ineffective and inconsistent.
Follow up, follow up again and follow up some more
I can’t stress this enough., it can take up to seven points of contact before you will complete a sale to a new customer.
Every person who buys something from you may have seen or had some form of contact or association with your business up to six times before they ultimately decided to walk in the door or pick up the phone to purchase a product or service from you.
Those six times may have consisted of seeing advertising material, being told about you by a friend, walking past your shop or having seen something about your products and services in the media.
It is vital that when someone makes contact with your business to make sure you have procedures in place to add them to your database.
If you don’t have their details it will be virtually impossible to make contact with them again and make sure those further points of contact actually occur.
So, make sure you communicate with and follow up your customers in a variety of ways, both in terms of content and delivery.
This will guarantee that your business is first to mind when your customers and prospects are ready to purchase and will ensure that you’re first off the blocks and leagues ahead of your competition.
Mark Creedon is the founder of Business Accelerator mastermind by Metropole and business coach to some of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs – helping them build a true business, not a job.
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