Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ready to Increase Your Business By Leaps and Bounds?

Five Easy Secrets for Delighting Your Clients

Want to increase your business by leaps and bounds? Then go the extra mile and give your clients a rich, compelling experience.

By Maribeth Kuzmeski

If you’re like most business people, you can relate to this scenario. You feel that you do a good job for your clients. You deliver what you promise, you return calls promptly, you offer quality service. So why is your business, well, a bit lackluster lately? Is it just the slow economy? Or are you unwittingly making big mistakes?

The answer may surprise you. Chances are, you’re not doing anything wrong. It’s just that you aren’t doing everything really, really right.

Yes, doing what you’re supposed to do is no longer good enough. If you aren’t giving your clients a rich, compelling experience—if you aren’t absolutely delighting them—you’re going to get left behind. In the Information Age, it’s all too easy to be reduced to a commodity. You have many competitors and people are savvy enough to comparison shop. Factor in the down-turned economy and you can see why you must go the extra mile for your clients.

All of this brings me to why I wrote this free report: I want to share the “tricks of the trade” I’ve learned during my 13 years in this business. Follow them and I guarantee you will turn your company around!

Let me begin my telling you a bit about my personal business philosophy, Red Zone Marketing. It compares the most critical and magnified area on the football field, the Red Zone (the final 20 yards before the goal line) to the most critical and magnified area in business (the unmarked territory where you either lose or win a prospective client). “Create A Client Experience” is the “C” in SCORE—my acronym for the five marketing principles successful companies use to “score” in the Red Zone.

So how can you create rich, rewarding experiences that will keep your clients happy and coming back for more? Here are five tips you should embrace, starting right now:

Live by the “80/20” Rule.

You remember this rule, the one that says businesses get 80% of their revenue from 20% of their clients. Typically, these same businesses spend 60 – 80% of their marketing dollars on prospecting. What a mistake! You should be 80% client-focused and 20% prospect-focused. Otherwise, you’ll end up in a situation where the customers that bring in the bulk of your income feel vaguely dissatisfied. They may very well leave you . . . and even worse, go around telling everyone what a bad experience they had. All of which leads up to my next tip:

Market to your existing clients . . . it pays!

I have a client who has been a financial advisor for more than a dozen years. During his first eight years in business (before I knew him), he had accumulated $10 million in money under management. He was acquiring 80 percent of his new clients by prospect marketing. When we began working together, I advised him to add client marketing to the mix. We put together a marketing system that included regular phone and mail communication to his clients; client-focused seminars and events; open houses; a commitment to periodic client reviews; ongoing client appreciation activities, including notes, letters, cards, gifts and social events.

Within three years after putting this client-marketing plan in place, his business increased from $10 million dollars to $100 million dollars of money under management. In only three years! And it didn’t end there. By the end of the fifth year, he had $200 million dollars under management. The secret was adding client marketing to the mix. Referrals started to stream in, and they were well qualified and within his niche.

Ask your clients what they want.

A novel concept, huh? It’s all too easy to assume that you know what they want. But unless you’re an extremely gifted mind reader, you probably don’t! Clients will consciously and subconsciously rate you on several factors, including satisfaction, delight, service, communication, your staff, etc.

How do you think you rate with your clients? Have you ever thought about discovering their level of satisfaction, and what’s really important to them about you and the business? Asking your clients what they want is the best first step to providing the basics of client marketing. Written questionnaires, personal interviews, focus groups, advisory boards, and evaluation forms are all useful tools to determine what your clients expect or desire, and what would delight them.

Think of imaginative ways to set your business apart.

Will clients want to remember the experience they have at your business? What is it that sets you apart from and above your competition? Let me offer you an example from an entirely different field. I know of a realtor in one of the nation’s fastest growing counties. He has hundreds of competitors, all of whom have access to the same inventory, and whose fees are identical to his. Nevertheless, he’s the first realtor most people in the area call when they’re ready to put their homes on the market.

Unlike his competitors, he doesn’t just show up when someone wants to buy or sell a house. Each spring, every homeowner in the area gets a tiny tree from him to replant in their yards and, in October, a pumpkin, with a note from him, appears on every front porch. In mid-summer, his antique fire engine, loaded with neighborhood kids, is at the head of the local Independence Day parade. Yes, he spends more to market his services than others do, but it isn’t a business expense, it’s an investment – one that pays rich dividends, year after year. He’s become the top realtor in his area because he does what his competitors don’t do – he creates experiences!

Can you think of a similarly creative way to set yourself apart from other professionals in your field?

Establish a KIT (Keep In Touch) Program.

If you tend to sit around and wait for clients to contact you, you’re missing out on some great opportunities to really cement your relationships. Right from the start, plan to wow your clients with a program of proactive communications that will surprise and delight them. In today’s world, the more frequently you contact them, the better the relationship is likely to be. Take the time to regularly contact them, even if the conversation or note is short.

Here are a few suggestions:

Get the email addresses of all your clients and enter them in your email address book. Now, whenever you come across anything that might be of interest to them, you can reach them all in a matter of seconds.

  • An educated client is a happy client. You can videotape or audiotape regular information or seminars and mail them to your clients. A newsletter is another good way to keep in contact with and educate your clients.
  • Always take a proactive approach; contact your clients before they contact you. Admit mistakes, take responsibility, and fix problems as quickly as possible – every time. Your recovery itself can represent a positive, memorable experience.
  • Make sure every member of your team follows the same game plan. If someone in the marketing department faithfully contacts a client or prospect every month, but client service representatives consistently misspell a name, get the address wrong, or fail to follow up on a request or complaint, the company as a whole suffers the consequences.

With a little imagination and a passionate commitment to service, you can create the kinds of client experiences that transform a ho-hum financial services business into a dynamic, thriving one. I urge you to start right now. “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” may be a cliché, but it’s as true today as it’s ever been. The more you delight your clients from the very beginning, the better your long-term relationships will be . . . and the more your company will profit.

Maribeth Kuzmeski, MBA: Maribeth Kuzmeski, President of the consulting firm, Red Zone Marketing, works with the nation’s most successful, million dollar producers to assist them in continuing to grow and systematize their practices. Red Zone Marketing also consults with Broker Dealers and some of the largest mutual fund and annuity companies to plan for their advisor acquisition, retention and impactful messaging and strategy. Maribeth has written 4 books including, “85 Million Dollar Tips for Financial Advisors.” She is a national keynote speaker, has spoken at the Million Dollar Round Table and has created webinars, top advisor toolkits, and other products for MDRT and other industry organizations. Maribeth’s passion is to help financial advisors use their brilliance so they can serve more of their ideal clients.

Be sure to join us on December 8, 2009 for a special web class featuring Maribeth Kuzmeski. Find out more information and learn how to get Maribeth's new book "The Connectors" for free by going here:

No comments: