Five Core Principles for Turning Clients and Prospects into Raving Fans
Once upon a time customer service meant more than pressing 2 to wait (and wait and wait) for “the next available representative.” Companies valued those who bought their goods and services and went the proverbial extra mile to make them happy. Today we’re more likely to hear about a company that’s ripped off its customers.
Failing to make your customers happy is more than a shame. It’s slow-motion corporate suicide. If you want to make it in today’s crowded, recession-wracked market, you absolutely must create clients and customers who rave about your company the way they would their favorite sports team.
Obviously, making raving fans out of your clients is easier said than done. If it were easy, then corporate giants that have plenty of money to throw at such a concept would be overrun with happy customers.
In my new book, …And the Clients Went Wild! How Savvy Professionals Win All the Business They Want (Wiley, 2010, www.AndTheClientsWentWild.com), I lay out a blueprint for cultivating loyal clients and generating growing sales through a collection of principles and tactics that have proven successful for others in business. These businesses have effectively created a loyal following of passionate vocal clients, and with the execution of these principles, you can too.
1st Principle: What Are YOU Doing That No One Else Is Doing? In order to gain exposure, it helps to be or to offer something unique—or do something that no one else dares. It’s true that standing out from the crowd is probably the riskiest of the five principles. However, it may be equally risky to run a conservative, “under‐the‐radar” firm these days—you risk becoming an anachronism. While successful firms stick to their values, they also find ways to be so exciting that people don’t have a choice but to pay attention…and buy.
2nd Principle: Focus Your Marketing on Benefits, Results, and a Call to Action. Another way to gain success is to ensure you are answering the question, What’s really in it for me? for your clients. Too many businesses accentuate the features of their products or services rather than the benefits—what your clients really care about. “Open 24 Hours” is a feature. Benefits are value statements about the features of a product or service, with an emphasis on what the customer gets. For example, a benefit might be that a product makes you look slimmer or saves lots of money on gas. Too many companies leave it up to their prospects to figure out the benefits of their products or services.
3rd Principle: Go Viral! A viral message is an idea, notion, or practice that’s transmitted from person to person through speech, gestures, the internet, email, or other media. It ignites and motivates people to move the message. Most viral marketing programs give away valuable products or services to attract attention—free benefits, information, software programs, or downloads. It’s essential that you do everything possible to make it easier for people to access information or material that may go viral.
4th Principle: Leverage Your Business Network for Incremental Growth. It takes a plan, but using your network—business and otherwise—can be the miracle alternative to the typical grind of cold calls and prospecting. A productive business network is filled with respected, well-connected, influential people—called “Centers of Influence”—that share your target market and have a complementary rather than a competing service or product. You can capitalize on these connections by creating strategic alliances or by simply sharing your networks and making referrals.
5th Principle: The Ability to Execute Is Critically Important to Your Game Plan. In today’s fast‐moving, completely networked world, superior execution is clearly driving success for business. Small business owners are great at adopting many new marketing ideas. What they are not so great at is finishing. The best marketing strategy is the one you can pull off completely.
Perhaps more than ever before people want to do business with those they feel they can trust. They are attracted to businesses they feel will go out of their way to provide them the absolute best products or services available. And the absolute best way to elicit that trust in prospects is by having clients who cheer you on at every turn. So, don’t waste another second waiting to develop a marketing plan that will influence your clients to go wild for you.