Here’s a little shopping tip: give your customers the gift of an even better B2C relationship in 2011 by implementing these 9 Christmas Lessons into your marketing strategy.
A Christmas Acronym: What You Can Give In 2011
Care. It all starts here. If you don’t find what you do interesting or valuable, why should your clients? Ask yourself what you like most about your job, think about what fulfills you as a member of your team, and envision what you can accomplish in the coming year. Then use that knowledge to better serve your customers.
Hear. This is absolutely essential. Even if you are completely stoked to come into work every day, you will never be able to run a completely effective business if you do not listen to your customers. Remember that even if you don’t hear a complaint or question directly, other people could be. More and more people are talking about you and your brand online; be aware of the conversations going on, and learn from them.
Respond. Whenever someone speaks up (online or in person), decide how you can improve your business strategies or your actions to better suit their requests and preferences. Then let them know you are working to meet their needs. If you can’t see to a client’s request personally, make sure you introduce them to the person who will be working with them. Your rewards will be well worth the effort.
Interact. Don’t just be open to suggestions: encourage conversations with your customers. This can be particularly effective given our new social networking possibilities. Take a poll. Check in with an occasional email to see how a product or service is working out. Use your social presence on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to respond to comments, and update clients and fans about what you are doing. The better the relationship between client and customer, the more successful and profitable the business.
Support. As you learn to listen and respond, make sure to follow through with visible results. If someone is unhappy, contact them to get the details, be in touch with them throughout the resolution process, and check back to make sure they are satisfied. Nothing spreads quicker than a bad reputation (especially online); don’t let your business be known as one that shrugs off criticism and ignores unhappy customers.
Tell. Nobody likes to be left in the dark about what’s really going on, especially if their time and money are involved, so be up front whenever possible. A huge part of any business relationship is trust; your most loyal clients will keep coming back because they find you trustworthy. And they will refer their friends because of their positive experiences with your company.
Maintain. Consistency is key. Don’t create a Facebook account, update it five times in one week, and then ignore it for three. Likewise, don’t promise to provide a regular flow of helpful content or ideas on a blog or website, and then forget to post for long periods of time. Clients will become frustrated (and suspicious) if you are unreliable. Keep to a good schedule of Facebook or blog posts; send out newsletters at about the same time each month; respond promptly when contacted; be available continually.
Ask. It is understandable to finish a task and just want to be done. But follow-up makes a big impression, so make sure you ask your client if they are satisfied with your work before you send them a bill. Be open to suggestions, because they can only help you improve. Bonus tip: if you are willing to take the extra time, ask your best customers to write a testimonial, and then post them to your social sites. This kind of marketing adds credibility to your business and builds up a positive presence for your brand. The next time someone searches for businesses offering your service, seeing reviews from satisfied customers will encourage them to give yours a try.
Start. It’s almost January, the beginning of a whole new year of marketing opportunities. So get out there and get started! Don’t be afraid to try new things. Do your best, work your hardest, and remind yourself that growing a successful business takes time. And, as always, stick with us; we’ll be here to offer you advice and encouragement along the way, and to share with you our own learning experiences throughout the year.