Hey there Rainmaker… Here’s your daily does of Breakthrough Marketing Secrets…
This chapter is titled…
“Building A High-Priority Relationship With Customers, And Making Yourself A Welcome Guest.”
I almost never answer my phone. Even for friends and family. Unless I’m in a good position to talk, or I’ve scheduled the call, I will let the caller go to voice mail.
Yesterday, I made an exception. I’d recently signed up for service with Stamps.com, who offers an online tool to print a lot of postage. I was in the middle of the free trial period. I knew they had a new member startup kit on the way. And since I had just processed an order for about $100 worth of postage through them, I was definitely open to having a conversation.
So when I saw the name Stamps.com on the caller ID, I picked up the phone. Even though I knew it was probably a sales call of some sort.
My assumptions were right. It was a combination sales and service call. They wanted to make sure I was getting full use out of the trial. So that they’d be able to ding my credit card month after month, going forward.
I set aside time to have the conversation, in the moment, even though I normally wouldn’t.
Why was I willing to answer the phone for Stamps.com when I so rarely pick up unscheduled calls?
Simple. Because I have a warm, high-priority relationship with the company, they are a welcome — even preferred — guest right now.
This puts them in a very good spot. Because not only am I open to answering the phone and taking a sales call, I’m probably more predisposed to responding to offers they make. Which mean more revenue and profits for them, from me as a customer.
Being welcome is an ideal position to be in with your prospects and customers.
When your marketing and selling messages are welcome, they will be read more. And when they are read more, they will be responded to more. And when they are responded to more, you’ll get more sales, revenue, and profits. With a hat tip to Dan Kennedy, who taught this as one of his core messages for years, I’ll share my take on this concept.
One of my clients has a very unique business. He had a background in the publishing industry. But as he grew his business, he decided he didn’t want to compete with the best-of-the-best direct response publishers at their game. So he created his own game. He uses published products as a way to get new customers in the door. Based on the topics of the published products, he can make reasonable assumptions about what these customers are interested in. He then offers higher-end physical products to those customers, as a back-end or higher-level offer beyond the information they buy. It works out very well for him.
Along the way, he discovered something interesting. Logically, this will make sense. And it definitely proves the point. For customers that bought information from them, he can deliver marketing to them in two ways. One is to send the marketing separately. The other is to insert it with the content they paid for. The same marketing, sent to the same customer, gets a higher response when sent with the paid-for content.
Also, sending marketing pieces to his current and past customers consistently nets him a multiples-higher response than sending marketing pieces to strangers or folks who’ve only expressed passing interest. Buyers buy more, in higher numbers, than non-buyers. This is common knowledge in the direct response business, but it underscores the point.
By creating a relationship with his customers through regular content — in the form of his published products — he finds it much easier to sell to these customers other products in the future. It gives their relationship with him a higher priority.
The higher-priority of a relationship you have with a prospect or customer, the more welcome your marketing messages will be.
Think about your friends and loved ones. Who are you most likely to answer the phone for? Of course, family and your oldest friends — because your relationship with them may be as long as your entire life. But also, let’s say you have a new friend. If he or she calls, you’ll pick up the phone just as fast. Both freshness and the legacy of your relationship can make it higher-priority.
The same applies to marketing. Brand new prospects, leads, and customers are prone to engage with everything you have to offer. Also, you most devoted fans and followers will continue to engage for years, as long as they still value their relationship with you.
Your goal then is to keep a fresh flow of new customers into your business, as well as nurturing your long-standing relationships by continuing to deliver value for weeks, months, and years beyond the first interaction with your business. In marketing, absence does not make the heart grow fonder. The longer it’s been since you’ve contacted your customers with a message they value, the harder it will be to get them to welcome you in.
In terms of consistently being able reach your best customers with a sales message, you must value your relationship above all else. This will be what generates the highest lifetime customer value. This is what will generate the most profits.
This also applies to getting new customers.
The hardest way to generate new customers is to go out and try to close the sale on the first contact.
This is akin to trying to ask for marriage on the first date. Does it happen? Probably. Are your odds good? Not at all.
The copywriters who specialize in writing a single sales piece to convert a first-time, cold contact into a customer are the highest paid for a reason. This is the most difficult job in marketing. To make a cold offer who doesn’t know you from Adam, and convince that person to give you — a stranger — money for a product they can’t see, feel, touch, or experience until you already have their money.
These copywriters are able to do this because they have such a deep understanding of what motivates people to buy, that they can become a welcome guest, a high-priority relationship starting from the word go.
It is possible to make yourself welcome if your marketing message speaks to a core need, want, desire, fear, or frustration of your market on a deep level that tells them, in a fraction of a second, that you understand what they want and can give it to them. And it doesn’t work to say as much superficially, you have to show them.
The easier way to make yourself a welcome guest is to do so through time, with valuable information and follow-up.
Online, there’s a technology offered by most email service providers called an autoresponder. This is a technology that allows you to send a series of emails in a timed interval. The sequence is triggered when someone signs up on your website.
Here’s what the customer experiences. They arrive at your website, and you offer some valuable piece of content when they sign up for your email list. They enter their name and email address, and the first email is sent to them. It fulfills on the promise of your website, and sets the expectation that you’ll be sending more valuable content. Following this, over the coming days, weeks, months, or even years, the customer receives more emails from you. These emails deliver valuable content and introduce them to your marketing message.
If your content is good, and relevant to the reader, you will build your relationship with them. If your content is very good, there’s a good number that will be predisposed at the beginning of the follow-up to make you a high-priority relationship. Which means it’s never too early to make that first offer, once they’re on your list. But also, as long as you keep readers, every email is an opportunity to build your relationship. To get them to know, like, and trust you. To understand what you have to offer. And to make the decision to buy from you.
When trying to make a sale on the first contact, many companies are happy with response rates south of 1%. 3-5% are off-the-charts wins. What that means is that out of every 100 people who see your marketing, getting one to buy is good. Getting five to buy is a huge home-run.
Compare that to a good follow-up system. By taking time to build a relationship with your prospects through effective follow-up, they will open up to your marketing messages. Your marketing will take on the role of welcome guest. Over time, you may find yourself converting 10%, 20%, 30% or more of prospects to paying customers. In some cases, these orders will come in 12, 18, even 24 months after the initial contact. Because you took the time (even if automated) to establish that relationship.
The same thing applies to any follow-up system. When I worked briefly selling high-end IT training solutions, I would continue regularly following up with customers for months, until I got a clear “yes” or “no.” I’d tell them either one was fine. But as long as their answers were “not yet” or “maybe,” I’d make a note to reach out in a few weeks and see if there was anything I could do to help.
The only thing automated about that follow-up process were my reminders to myself, put in a calendar, to follow-up with the prospect. The follow-up itself was manual, done with phone calls and email.
My sales message at that time was good, not great. But my relationship-building, through following up, was off the charts. This should be your highest goal.
I was kind, courteous, and persistent. My follow-up was focusing on the customer first. Providing valuable information they could use to make their buying decision. As well as offering my services during their purchasing process.
Through this customer-focused follow-up, I made myself a welcome guest. I built a high-priority relationship with them. As a result, I was able to close a very large percentage of my leads, and consistently perform near or at the top of the company’s sales team.
(Contrast this with the sales person who pesters and bugs and pushes and overtly attempts to manipulate — and then wonders why nobody will pick up their calls when they’re trying to meet their quota at the end of the month.)
The key to making yourself and your marketing and selling messages welcome is to focus on the customer. The key to building your relationship is to make it about them.
Circling back around to my Stamps.com example above, it was certainly more about me than about them. A week earlier, I would have certainly let the call go to voice mail. A week later, maybe the same. However, at that moment, postage in general and Stamps.com’s service in particular was at the top of my mind. And so even though they were calling about their services, they were speaking to the conversation I was already having in my head.
Other companies, it’d take months or years to build enough of a relationship with me to make themselves a welcome guest.
Every customer and every business is different in what it will take to establish this level of relationship, knowing, liking, and trusting. But what’s universal is that if you can establish it — and turn yourself into that welcome guest — it will lead to tremendous successes in your sales and marketing efforts.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets