Article courtesy of Joe Garcia from Give to Get Marketing
According to a study performed by the Association of Sales Executives, 81% of all sales happens on or after the fifth contact.
But what if you only follow-up with your prospects and customers 2-3 times, or worse, not at all? Imagine all the business growing opportunities you would be missing.
Smart marketers know that follow-up is one of the most important keys to growing a successful business.
You've heard the old adage, 'Out of sight, out of mind.' It applies directly to your sales opportunities. If your prospects or customers don't hear from you on a regular basis, they can easily forget about you.
At that point your competitors have an ideal opportunity to come in and escort your prospects and customers over to their businesses. Now you see them -- now you don't.
If you want to successfully grow your small business, effective follow-up is crucial.
Here are a few follow-up tips to get you on the right path:
1. Who should you follow up with?
You want to follow-up with both your Prospects (people who have responded to one of your past marketing messages but who haven't purchased yet), and Customers (People who have purchased from you in the past).
2. How often and how long?
You want to follow-up with them on a consistent basis so that they don't forget about you and your offerings. That may be once a quarter, once a month, or even once a week.
You should follow-up with your lists for as long as it makes profitable sense. When following up with your customers as long as you are making a reasonable profit on the sales from each follow-up you could follow-up with them forever.
Prospects are a little different. The purpose of your follow-ups to prospects is to convert a percentage of them into First-Time Customers.
There will come a point when it becomes obvious that certain prospects aren't going to become customers. At that point you should remove them from your primary follow-up schedule. You may want to give them one last shot after six months or so with a Last Chance offer before you remove them from your follow-up list permanently.
The cost of your follow-ups will impact your decisions about how long to follow-up.
For instance, direct mail is much more expensive than email follow-up, although there are pros and cons of each that must be considered.
3. What do you provide to them in your follow-ups?
-- The simplest form of follow-up is a simple product or service offer. Tell them the features and benefits of a product or service and offer them a special deal.
Be aware however, that your Prospects and Customers are probably being marketed to by your competitors offering the same products or services, often at lower prices.
That fact alone could make this type of follow-up much less effective than others.
You want your Prospects and Customers to get to Know, Like and Trust you so they have a reason to buy from you and not from your competitors.
If you can build elements into your follow-ups that will help you establish these Know, Like and Trust factors, you will stand a much better chance of creating a long-lasting bond between you and your prospects/customers.
-- If you are a catalog company with fun or interesting products, you may just follow-up with your latest product offerings, with special deals. Many people love receiving fun catalogs in the mail that they can browse through. That fun appeal may be all you need to keep your prospects and customers interested in your follow-ups.
-- If your products or services aren't things that have lots of variety, fun and interest built in, like insurance, real estate, nutritional supplements, plumbing services, etc. then you probably need to provide your Prospects and Customers with something in addition to hold their interest in each follow-up.
Very often 'information' that they will find interesting and useful can fit the bill.
That could be a tips newsletter related to your product or service.
-- A lawn care provider could send a simple, one-page newsletter about lawn care tips.
-- A cosmetic provider could provide beauty tips.
-- A nutritional supplement provider could provide health and wellness tips, ideas and latest research.
4. Be personal and human in your follow-ups
These newsletters should be in a personal, friendly manner that represents you and your business in a positive light.
People don't respond well to dry, impersonal, corporate communications. They want to feel like a real human being is communicating with them. This goes a long way to developing the Know, Like and Trust factors I mentioned earlier.
5. Apply the Give to Get approach
Our philosophy is Give to Get, so in addition to giving interesting and useful information to your Prospects and Customers, you also need to build in the Get element.
That's where your product/service promotions come in.
So, in addition to the complimentary information you would also include special offers on a few of your products and services.
These types of newsletter follow-ups should contain about 80% fun, interesting and useful information that they will look forward to reading, and about 20% selling information. With that proportion you will have a much better chance of being perceived as a 'guest' rather than a 'pest.'
6. Maintaining 'Top of Mind' Awareness and Loyalty
Depending on your type of business, it may make sense to do periodic reminder follow-ups that don't do any direct selling, but simply bring your business to the 'Top of their Minds,' in a positive and personal way.
These would be in addition to the Tips and Promotion follow-ups just covered.
Since there's little or no selling involved in these personal reminders, you can't rely on them for the bulk of your marketing follow-ups. But, when done right, they can help you build a stronger bond and maintain awareness and loyalty.
Some methods of these personal 'reminder' follow-ups are:
-- Sending a greeting card for a special occasion like holidays, birthdays, or even a congratulations card for a recent achievement. Even better would be a congratulations card on an achievement one of their children recently made. That would touch their heart and strengthen your relationship at the same time.
-- Sending a personal note or an article they may find interesting.
-- Calling them on the phone to stay in touch.
-- Inviting them out for lunch or a special event.
All of these methods, and many more, are terrific ways to keep your business uppermost in your Prospects/Customers minds and to build know, like and trust.