How to Build Your Success by Keeping Your Clients “In the Loop”
Marketing mentor Ilise Benun advises that one of the most effective ways to build your business … and your success … is using a strategy she dubs a “communication loop.”
A communication loop is simply a method for contacting prospective clients, then building the relationship by continually staying in touch with them through one or more communication tools. These tools include newsletters, postcards, calendars, press releases, and networking.
Ilise says communication loops are effective marketing systems because:
They're structured. You need to create the structure and format for newsletters, postcards, or calendars only one time. Then you can use the original design as a template for future pieces.
They save time. Ilise determined many people give up staying in contact with clients because it's time consuming. By using templates, you greatly reduce the time it takes to use these tools, and you're much more likely to keep sending them.
You can use the tools that fit you best. You can start by focusing on using just one tool, so you won't feel overwhelmed. And you can choose the one you're most comfortable with. As you become more comfortable with that tool, you can add others.
Nothing's Perfect … But Knowing Potential Problems Gets You Closer
Each of these tools comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here's a summary … and resources to overcome potential problems.
Advantages: Newsletter can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish.
Disadvantages: To make the best impression, you must be consistent with delivery. “On again, off again” approaches don't work.
Solutions: Start out slowly so you don't get overwhelmed and give up. Consider sending quarterly, then moving to every two months, monthly, and possibly weekly if you feel you can handle that frequency.
If you're interested in sending e-mail newsletters, check out www.myemma.com. Emma® is a service with custom-designed templates, real-time response tracking, and features designed to help you grow your audience with newsletters. Mention Ilise at Marketing Mentor sent you and get a 20% discount.
Postcards and calendars
Advantages: These tools provide great opportunities to showcase your design skills.
Disadvantages: Postcards and calendars don't offer as much information as newsletters. And calendars can't be sent that often during the year, reducing their effectiveness in keeping your name in front of the client.
Solutions: Use postcards to provide tips and techniques instead of just advertising. Some designers also use postcards to send short, pithy newsletters. To get ideas how to use these, check out www.amazingmail.com and www.modernpostcard.com
Use calendars as self-promotion add-ons. Every page should have your company's or your name or logo. Size them so there's a good chance the client will put one on the desk or on the wall near his desk. Consider sending two 6-month calendars a year. In this way, your client thinks about you and your services when he opens the package as well as when he glances at the calendar.
Advantages: Press releases are useful for getting attention from media and getting your name out into the community. When your press releases result in articles, you can send copies to clients and prospects as credibility builders.
Disadvantages: You can write two-dozen press releases and only get one published. Getting published depends on the immediate editorial needs of the media outlets you're releasing to.
Solutions: Press release to a wide number and wide variety of media outlets. But make sure to release only to outlets your press release relates to. Individualize press releases so they fit the type of outlets you release them to. To learn more about using press releases to build your business, go to http://www.publicityinsider.com/release.asp
Advantages: Networking is an integral part of any communication loop. It's one of the most effective ways to make your first contacts and pull people into your loop.
Disadvantages: Many people shiver at the thought of networking personally.
Solutions: Networking gets easier the more you do it. Be yourself. You're selling your design skills. So when networking, focus on those. Use a business card as your introduction. Realize that 99% of the people you speak to have been as uncomfortable about networking as you currently are. They understand your nervousness.
If the thought of networking makes you cringe, check out Ilise's new book, “Stop Pushing Me Around.” You can get more details on her website at www.marketing-mentor.com.
Ilise says a communication loop is a wonderfully successful (and easy) way to build client relationships. Once people get in your loop, they'll stay as long as you keep communicating. It also creates a nice expectation in your clients -- they start looking forward to hearing from you.
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