The classic marketing “fail” story occurs when you discover a previous client — one you thought had been totally satisfied with your services — goes somewhere else for some work. And when you follow-up (too late, of course), the former client says “I forgot about you.”
This happens far too often — of course, in many cases (the worst) you don’t even know this future sales loss has occurred because you are so busy trying to find new work from organizations and individuals with whom you have no previous relationships. This is another fail. Not too many people will purchase architectural, engineering and construction services without at least some historical reference or relationships.
The question then, becomes, how do you keep in touch effectively without obtrusive or time-wasting: “Hi, I’m just keeping in touch” calls. I mean, unless you add some value to the communication you are just stepping in people’s faces.
Here are my three favourite “keeping in touch” systems/models.
The regular newsletter/eletter
A regular eletter (weekly or monthly) with some solid information, useful content, and appropriate seasonal advice — perhaps with some humor or other materials — can be highly effective. At least a few services provide the newsletter production services for a fee. (Bernie Heer has a newsletter model for residential contractors and the Construction Break service has been in operation for about two decades).
The advantage of these services, of course, is they almost force you to produce regular content and distribute it.
The eletter model can be effective with some effort and co-ordination. One of the simplest ways to manage eletters (like I do) is to co-ordinate them with your blog postings; you can also add-on social media updates to autogenerate these.
The weakness of these strategies, of course, is they aren’t personalized — you won’t gain the true advantage of one-on-one connection with your clients (except the ones you actually feature in your news/eletters.)
Community/association involvement and connections
An indirect advantage of serving on relevant community or trade association boards and committees and engaging in association activities is your opportunity to spend time with current and former clients in a non-selling environment. It’s informal, but effective. It is hard to stay out of mind when you are in fact connected in common causes.
One-on-one thoughtful gestures
If you see an article or social media posting that you think will be valuable to the person to whom you wish to communicate, send it. Celebratory or thank you messages can also work. The goal here is to share resources or insights that are truly helpful and don’t appear to be out of a can or script. The weakness here is that you will find it challenging time and mind-wise to find consistent and relevant individualized material and resources worthy of sharing. But when you can, you earn the “keeping in touch” home run prize.
Do you have thoughts about keeping in touch? Please feel free to comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.