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Posted: October 08, 2009

Be a roadrunner—and get noticed

A little appreciation now goes a long way later

Esty Atlas

"Most look up and admire the stars. A champion climbs a mountain and grabs one."

This quote is a perfect motto to get inspired and a jump on your PRE-holiday consumer marketing strategy. Yes, PRE!

For smaller business owners, you've got to grab your opportunities ahead of everyone else, lest you not get lost in the mass advertising mania that's about to converge on us all once again. You've heard it before and it's never more been true: relationships are the lifeblood of business success.

So now, this very month, it's time to get yourself noticed. Let your customers know you truly appreciate their business WITHOUT selling anything.

Why? We're all getting through a tough economic year. Think about what you can do that your customers will appreciate. That is unique. Show genuine thoughtfulness by giving your customers, clients and important contacts something nice to say or at least think about you. It will be many times rewarded.

Here are four important business tips:

1) Understand smart marketing happens on a number of levels; the most important gets you word of mouth referrals. (Those can easily account for half to two-thirds of your existing business and are a whole lot easier to cultivate than cold calls or more expensive, less results producing traditional advertising).

2) Consider sending a nicely designed e-blast newsletter with helpful tips.

3) Give a memorable thank-you gift with a note of appreciation. An unsolicited $5 coffee gift card with a handwritten card from a grateful business owner goes a long way. Who doesn't appreciate someone else buying the cup of Joe! An easy and affordable way to make a significant impression!

4) Be a hero; offer a small, but specific solution or suggestion to a customer's problem. OK, don't give away the farm, but do be helpful in unexpected ways.

Take a tumultuous year and turn it into an opportunity to navigate a new environment. Your resolution for 2010 should be to re-connect with each one of your customers. Each time you do (on a thoughtful, not interfering schedule), you encourage reminders that build an ongoing connection. Sustainable marketing practices improve operational performance, so initiate networking opportunities outside of the workplace.

Another important tip: Don't be afraid to have a little fun with customers! Every time I interview people for honest feedback and critique about the companies with whom they work, key personal characteristics come through over and over again.

There is an added benefit to enjoying someone you work with. If a person is fun, especially nice, goes the extra mile, bingo, you have taken your business relationship to a more respected, sustainable level.

Most everyone has competitors who can provide similar products or services. What will differentiate you? People expect and deserve competence - whether it's an engineering firm being hired for a project or a surgeon performing a difficult procedure.

People want the best, but know this: people subliminally respond to more than that. If you can help alleviate someone's stress by going above and beyond the call of the project, then you will build the confidence that is the essence of return business. That, is singularly the best way to easily enhance your reputation.

So, before the flurry of holiday activities come around when no one has extra time or energy to spare, stand out. Be creative. Be resourceful. Be a roadrunner. And get noticed! Send your thank you first. It doesn't have to cost a lot, but it will mean a lot to your business success.

I'm curious what people will send to their customers. Candy, coffee cards, or?? Tell me what memorable incentive you'll offer for 2010. We'll choose several of the best examples to promote via social marketing! Sweet, huh? I meant Tweet.

HERE'S OUR VALUABLE THANK YOU! WIN A FREE-LUNCH & LEARN Workshop! President Melanie Goetz and Creative Director Esty Atlas will customize their 40-minute presentation to help your company win more business. ($950 value - up to 20 employees). Tell us why your company should WIN the FREE "Lunch & Learn Workshop" via email at info@hughesstuart.com in 250 words or less before November 15th, 2009.

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Esty Atlas is a four-time Emmy award-winning writer, specializing in leadership communications, media and public relations. 303-919-2425; email: estycreative@yahoo.com or www.estycreative.com

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Readers Respond

Thank you for this article! Its great to be reminded of the basics of relationship maintenance. I find that clients love the effort that is made to make them feel special. It becomes my differentiator. I enjoyed the article! By Jami Arthur on 2009 10 12

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