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Calling a spade a spade

Why don't I hear from them?

We, my partner and I, like to buy from small independent businesses. Small items, large items doesn't really matter - 9 times out of 10 we feel we are treated as a valued customer, not a number like so often happens when you buy from big stores.

Like last year when we bought 2 sofa's from a befriended Interior Design business. We received advice on what was available for our wishes (style, comfort, budget) and what other options we could have. Decision was made, order placed and we were informed on how long it would take and when it would be delivered. All good and straight forward service. The sofas arrived duly on time and were exactly as ordered. And of course we paid the outstanding invoice on time.

Then, silence.

Not a single letter, phone-call or postcard to enquire if everything was fine and to our liking. No 'how to take care of your new furniture' leaflet send out a few weeks after delivery, no news on sort-like style other furniture or furnishings we might want to consider now or in the future. Nothing at all.


We could have been in the market for a small table for next to one of the sofas to keep drinks or books on, or a special simple to apply stain removing product. Or new curtains in matching colours of the sofa.

Any small business not keeping in contact with its clients and/or prospects is leaving money on the table. Especially when there is an economical slump going on.
Every business has back-end products - items that don't need to costs that much but act as an accessory or addition etc to the first purchase. If you don't tell your clients or prospects regularly you have additional products for them and there is just the slightest chance they are contemplating such an additional purchase why should they think of you?

Think about it: economical slump or downturn doesn't mean no one is buying nothing any more - everyone might spend a little less or less often. And how do you make your business the obvious choice when something is needed (or wanted, we all still want things but are a bit more careful where we spend it)?

If my friend the Interior Designer had told me they also carry a small selection of inexpensive side-tables I might have spent a bit of pocket money on it instead of making do with a old bed-side table I use now (and which 'clashes' with the rest of our 'design').

Stamp2ndclassAll businesses know - or should know! - that it is much easier to sell to an existing client than to find a brand new client. And all it basically costs extra to keep your business in front of your client's thoughts is 27 pence.

Image: 27 pence per letter for a 2nd class stamp. That doesn't break anyones bank, does it? It surely doesn't ours, on average with every regular letter batch we send out (once a month to 1/6 of our client base) the extra turnover from returning clients is £ 65.00 on maintenance products, £ 110.00 on maintenance services and once every three months £ 1500.00 when a referred new client buys his first purchase (referring a new client to us is rewarded with a free maintenance service - and that reward is mentioned in every one of our regular letters to our client base).
For a small business many small purchases by many returning clients makes a big difference.

One word of 'caution': don't just tell your client base what other products or service you can provide - explain the benefits of the features these products or services might give them. I don't really respond well to a letter or leaflet that only contains a list of products or product ranges. A, it is not personal - specially not when there is totally no sign of 'mail-merging' my contact details on the letter or leaflet - and B, features won't tell me how this other product will benefit my circumstances.

Don't leave money on the table, spend that 27 pence, invest in a system (e.g. Mamut's CRM program is very cost-effective - from £ 79.00 on - and simple to implement) that can mail-merge your client's personal details onto a letter. Be out there, be active - pro-active even, so that your clients are constantly reminded of you and your quality products and services.

Many of your competitors sit back and wait for their clients to suddenly remember them out of the blue. Don't leave their memory to chance - make it easy to remember you. For 27 pence.


Richard Calderwood

I know exactly where you are coming from - the truth, in my experience, is that many small business owners simply do not understand how critical this is - and of those who do, many just can't be bothered.

But great for those who do - the field is wide open for rich pickings! These are the guys who you will see still trading after the recession - most of the others will be gone!

Richard C

Karin H.

Hi Richard

Thanks for the thumbs up (that'll be us then, the first guys ;-))

What really goes over my head sometimes that although you give them the proof that is works - and it works very simple in fact, both the creating of the reminders as the reaction and results of it - some business still shrug their shoulders and say: well, perhaps in your type of trade, but my clients don't work like that.

Then, of the times you do get the message through, they tell you: wish I'd started this years ago.

Proof is in the pudding, but you still have to make the pudding to taste it.

Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

Carol Bentley

Hi Karin,

this is music to my ears - and you're right - so often this advice, given with the right intent, is completely ignored or the power of it is misunderstood.

I think for many small businesses it may be a lack of systems. Just having a simple follow-up structure that everyone involved in the business knows about and follows takes the pressure off the business owner.

And for people who feel they can't find the time to write, print and post a letter the whole thing can be made even easier by capturing the customer's email address and getting permission to keep in touch.

Then a simple sequence of email messages sent out automatically over a perod of days, and the occasional additional informative email, does the trick. That's where services like Aweber are a godsend (I noticed you've got a link to them on this page).

It's all about creating relationships so people want to do more business with you.

Karin H.

Hi Carol!

Just finished reading your excellent book "I want to buy your product... have you sent me a letter yet?" which not only tackles the same subject but is a great help (tool?) to get started.

And yes, AWeber is a godsend - working on our 'AWeber' monthly newsletter as we 'speak' which, thanks to our 'system' sees an increase of readers of about 45 - 50 per month (not bad for a small business in a niche market - if I say so myself).

Systems and strategies in marketing: one of the best ways to build trust and long-term relationships the ethical way.

Karin H.

Carol Bentley

Hi Karin,

glad you like the book and found it useful.

Look out for a trackback from my blog for this post - I think it is something worth reminding ourselves about so I'll include a reference to it in one of my snippets next week.

Have a good weekend.

Karin H.

Thanks Carol - I like 'snippets' ;-)

Have a good weekend too

Karin H.

Carol Bentley

Trackback [Who's leaving cash on the table?]

Be honest - how many business people do you know who are as diligent in their sales follow up as they could be? And if they are not, how many times have they lost out without even knowing they have?....

Copywriting and Marketing Tips for Your Business from Carol Bentley

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