If you are like many service providers, you gain your business from word of mouth. Create an amazing experience for one client and they refer you. Design a great experience for the referral and they ideally will tell someone else.
The challenge is maintaining a positive relationship with the first client. I’m sure you have heard that it’s cheaper to keep an old client happy rather than gain a new one. (And if you haven’t, think about how much the lifetime value of one client is and it will make total sense)
But how to do you balance the demands of your current clients along with staying in contact with your former clients? It can drain both your time and wallet even if you see the value of maintaining the relationship.
I’ve got three easy steps to consider:
Send them a great thank you gift. Even if it is a few months after you finished the project.
I try my hardest to always thank my clients. But sometimes in the heat of planning several events, you forget. It’s fine to go back a few months later and send them the thank you note (handwritten) and a personalized gift. Get creative with the gift. Consider using some of the vendors who have helped you with other clients create personalized thank you gifts for your clients. Don’t just send flowers or gift baskets. Personalize it based on their preferences. One of my clients loves fine dining. I was always happy to send him a gift certificate to a leading restaurant in his area. Another was obsessed with the latest tech gadget. I found out a few stores that he frequented (aka had a personal relationship with the sales people) and got him a gift card. People will remember that you remembered them. So don’t worry if it’s been some time. Just send the thank you anyway.
Share relevant articles via email with a quick note
A good friend of mine was excellent about delivering articles via snail mail at least 2-3x a year. While I am not this good, I do keep article links and copies of information that I believe my clients will find useful and send it to them with a personal note to touch base. Not to solicit business. But just to touch base and see how things are going. You can get super fancy here and use contact management systems and send out birthday cards or other greetings. Or you can go simple and just send the link via email. Set up a schedule monthly to reach out to 10 clients at minimum and share what they will find important/relevant. It’s a free and easy way to say top of mind.
Share a free promo item – event ticket, tasting or some other free item they would value
Do you have an extra ticket for event opening? Are you inundated with free samples from a new promotions company that started? Consider passing along those items to your clients. It will cost you very little to send these items and it will go along way in staying top of mind – especially during the year when you don’t have time to reach out to them. And everyone loves free things! So I’m confident they will be delighted with the promo/swag you send them.
These are just a few teaser ideas for how you can keep your clients engaged – even when you are not working directly with them. There are hundreds of other low-cost ideas that would work as well. I didn’t even touch the area of social media and your ability to share links, contests and other fun promotions with your clients. So get creative and build in time during your weekly marketing activities to consider how to keep your clients top of mind. This way when it’s time for them to consider the event planner they want to work with – they will keep you and your company top of mind as well!