Hold on a second! I know you're eager to discover what this
marketing "secret" is, but before we get to that, I'd like
you to do a quick exercise. So grab a pen and a piece of paper, his
won't take long.
Write down every method you currently use for marketing your
business. Take your time. Put down every technique you employ. Let me
know when you've finished.
All done? Swell.
So, what's on your list? Chances are you have the usual marketing
tools: newspaper, radio and television ads; showcase videos; web
sites; business cards, etc. You probably have some of the more
"advanced" techniques, too: writing a regular column for a
newspaper/magazine; vehicle placards/window detailing; regularly
attending professional/association meetings; teaching classes;
sponsoring community events; referrals agreements; etc.
All are useful tools for marketing your business. But there's
another "must have" that you need on your list. I call it
the "ultimate marketing secret" because an amazing number of
businesses overlook it. So what is this remarkably effective marketing
Simple: CUSTOMER SERVICE.
I don't just mean simple customer service. I mean
customer care. Or, as marketing guru Jay Conrad Levinson says,
Too easy an answer, you say? Doesn't matter, it's true. Whether you
believe it or not, the fact of the matter is, everything you do is
marketing! And customer service is the primary "contact
point" for the customer. It's what they will remember most about
dealing with you and your business. If any aspect of your customer
service falls below their needs, you've lost. Sure, you might have a
contract that keeps your from losing their business -- this time. But
you won't get it again. And you probably won't get the business of
anyone they know, work with, or talk to for the next few years.
Yahoo! executive Tim Sanders says in his new book LOVE IS THE
KILLER APP, "At a time when more of us have more options than
ever, there's no need to put up with a product or service that doesn't
deliver, [or] a company that we don't like." Customers know this
instinctively and, as the saying goes, will "vote with their
feet" as they walk away from your business and head over to your
If you want to attract and keep more customers, focus on developing
exemplary customer service first and foremost! Even before you spend
another dime on advertising. And remember, customers base that
decision on THEIR definition of service, not yours. How? Well, start
by focusing on the customer.
"The best service that you can give customers is to solve
their problems," says Thomas Proulx, President/CEO of Netpulse
Communications. "Even better is to solve a problem for them
before they even know they have a problem." Look at every aspect
of your service through the client's eyes. Examine every interaction
with you and your business from their perspective:
- What problems might they have understanding what services you
- What materials need to be clearer? Better defined? Easier to
read? Easier to get?
- Are you available at the times they need you most? Are your
business hours compatible with their availability?
- How easy is it to contact you (and actually get through to you)?
- How quickly do you return calls? Answer emails?
- When they call, do they know whom they're speaking with? Is your
answering system clear and easy to navigate?
- Do your marketing materials (business cards, ads, flyers, etc.)
all show the same information and contact numbers? Is it easy to
find you/your office?
- Do you have ready access to a list of people who can help your
clients with ancillary services they may need (notary public,
finance, insurance, etc.)?
- Do you have systems in place to quickly obtain/retain/access
needed client information?
And that's just the start. You must review EVERYTHING that the
client sees, hears, touches, talks to, interacts with in the process
of doing business with you and ask yourself: "Is this helpful to
my clients? Is this giving them exactly what they need most?"
When you start answering "yes" to those questions 100% of
the time, you'll be on your way to providing that oh-so-desired
blissful customer service experience. So there. The ultimate marketing
secret is out of the bag. Who's gonna use it first? you. Or your