Building repeat business and loyalty through better customer service

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Customer service is an essential component of marketing your services, particularly when you are self-employed. You might be great at what you do, but that won’t matter to your clients if you provide terrible (or non-existent) customer service. Why is it important to provide great customer service – even when you are a company of one? Because repeat business and loyalty are important to the success of your business.

To ensure the success and longevity of your business, at least 70 per cent of your clients should come from past clients and their referrals. To be truly successful, bump that number up to 90 per cent. It costs less to market to and keep existing clients than it does to find new clients. And if your past clients keep sending you business, and referrals, then what you spend on maintaining those relationships (by providing great customer service) will be repaid many times over. Repeat clients serve as your unpaid marketing team.

Small increases in client retention pay off very significant dividends. According to one study, a 5 per cent increase in customer retention (or, keeping 5 more of your next 100 clients) will result in a 25 to 95 per cent increase in your long-term profits. Why?

  • It is at least five times more expensive to get a new client vs. keeping an existing client.
  • It costs almost nothing to provide existing clients with additional services.
  • It is more efficient to deal with existing clients.

There are other reasons, but these ones are key to me as an independent provider of services with one employee (me).

Consider these ideas for building and maintaining loyalty among your clients:

  • Aim for win-win (both you and your client benefit from the relationship).
  • Keep the process simple.
  • Reward partners well.
  • Maintain honest, two-way communication.
  • Follow up on what you say.

How do you provide excellent customer service? Let me know –

David Gargaro


Six tips on breaking the worry habit

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Have you read Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living? If you haven’t, then you should, especially if you’re looking for a way to ease stress from worry. It has some great insights on how to reduce and eliminate the amount of worry in one’s life. I must admit that I get preoccupied with minor nuisances and issues from time to time.

Here are six tips on breaking the worry habit (before it breaks you):

  1. Find ways to keep busy to remove worry from your mind – occupy yourself with activities that are productive and will help you to overcome your worries.
  2. Don’t let little things ruin your happiness – they are not worth the effort.
  3. Use the law of averages to eliminate worry – if something is very unlikely to happen, then don’t worry about it.
  4. Cooperate with the inevitable – if something is going to happen anyway and is beyond your control, accept it and the consequences.
  5. State how much anxiety something is worth – and don’t give it any more thought than what it is worth.
  6. Leave the past where it belongs – there is no point in worrying about things long dead.

Think about each one of these tips individually. They can truly help you to reduce and eliminate the amount of time you spend worrying about things. And if you have any tips of your own, let me know –

David Gargaro

A two-step guide to relationship marketing

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All marketing is about relationships, and how you develop and build that relationship will determine its success, and how well you eventually sell your services. Relationship marketing often begins with getting someone’s contact information, such as their email address. When you have the email addresses of people or companies that you think would be interested in your services, do the following:

  1. Send an invitation: Contact the person by email, and ask them if they would be interested in receiving some free information or content that would apply to them directly. Let them know that if they do not respond, you will not contact them again (very important due to Canada’s law on anti-spam legislation). Make sure that the offer (e.g., chapter from your book, article, white paper, report) is of value.
  2. Start a relationship: If they show interest, send the requested content. Include a brief description of your offer or service, and include a way for them to contact you for more information on your offer. Make sure that they can end the relationship at any time, such as including opt-out links in your email.

You could extend the second step by NOT asking them to order anything. Keep sending free information to keep them interested, and let them know that they will continue to receive information and emails unless they decide to opt out. People who continue to receive information are more likely to purchase your product or service down the road, and you can continue to market and sell to them as long as they remain on the list to receive this content. You can build the relationship over time and develop a good customer base.

How do you build relationships in your marketing efforts? Let me know –

David Gargaro

Four easy ways to expand your online marketing

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My previous post on email signatures offered one way to promote yourself and your services online. Why should you look for ways to expand your online marketing efforts? Online marketing is:

  • Integrated marketing, as it provides various tools to promote your message (e.g., billboard, catalogue, brochure, focus group)
  • Relatively inexpensive compared to other forms of marketing
  • Fast, as you can provide instant responses and updates
  • Relatively simple for you and your clients
  • Customizable, as you can target messages for specific clients
  • Ideal for clients who want to control the messages they receive
  • Another avenue to provide customer service
  • Effective for reducing and controlling costs
  • Interactive, as it can encourage feedback from clients
  • Information rich, with numerous ways to provide content
  • Accessible to markets in your neighbourhood and around the world, and different groups of people
  • Available all day, every day
  • A great way to build community and strengthen online relationships

Here are 4 ways to expand your online marketing:

  1. Give advice. Giving advice on websites, discussion groups, online forums, and mailing lists is a great way to build relationships and grow your brand. You can become known as an expert in any given topic. Helping others is a great way to develop your reputation as someone who is willing to help others to succeed. As an example, I answer questions on Linkedin and Quora on topics related to editing, writing, freelancing, and other topics where I have knowledge and experience. You can also add an email signature to your responses to further promote your brand.
  2. Use hyperlinks. There are two key ways to use hyperlinks to market your services:
    – Get other websites to link to your site.
    – Link your website to other sites that would interest your customers.
    More links to and from your site will improve your ranking in some search engines, and will make your site more valuable as a resource.
  3. Support bookmarking. Ask visitors to your site to bookmark the page they visited, especially pages that contain useful resources or are regularly updated. This will enable them to return to your page with one click, and keep you and your site top of mind.
  4. Provide fresh content. Update your website regularly with new content – articles, links, resources, news, etc. Make sure that people have a reason to visit your website regularly. FourSome programs enable you to link pages to a database that will support the generation of customized content for visitors. You can also create dedicated information pages that cover specific topics of interest to different groups of clients.

What tips do you have on promoting yourself online? Let me know –

David Gargaro

Using an email signature as part of your online marketing

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Email signatures are an often overlooked component of the online marketing toolbox. Email signatures are a free and effective way to market your message to your potential and existing clients. Whenever you send an email, respond to an email, or post to a discussion group, your message should conclude with an email signature. It should include your name, website, contact information, and a message (such as a tagline). For example, here is an example of my signature:

David Gargaro
Consulting Editor

Check out my book – How to Run Your Company… Into the Ground:

You can create several different signatures for different clients, markets, email addresses, and purposes. For example, if you are a real estate agent who sells residential, rental, commercial, and investment properties, you can create a different email signature attached to different agents, email addresses and markets. For example:

Frank Sales
The Sales Guy (this is just an example website)
I am your rental property specialist.

You can also include links to different websites, promote your newsletter, provide information on special offers, and more. The only limit is your creativity.

Do you have a great idea for an email signature, or a tip on how to make it more effective? Let me know –

David Gargaro

Six tips on giving a great presentation

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Good speeches, presentations, seminars, workshops, etc. have a number of common elements. Learning how to develop your presentation skills (particularly when doing PowerPoint presentations) can improve your career and help to make your subject more appealing to your audience – which should be one of your key goals.

  1. Stick to the main points. One solid piece of advice for giving a good talk is to keep your speech or presentation to a few main points. Base your talk on one central theme, and support it with a few key points. You can support those key points with examples, case studies, stories, facts, etc. For example, suppose you are giving a presentation on “Writing an effective email.” Your three key points could be:
    – Write a powerful, relevant subject line.
    – State your purpose in the opening paragraph.
    – Conclude with a call to action.
  2. Know your audience. It is very important to know who you will be presenting to so that you can tailor your speech accordingly. Don’t say the same things to different groups of people. Find out what people are interested in, and speak to those topics. Ask several key audience members what interests them, and what they want to get out of the presentation. Use the opening of your presentation to work in a reference to the situation. This will get your audience interested from the beginning of your talk.
  3. Provide great content. Focus on a few clear and specific points, and provide a lot of details to support those points. Organize details and examples to keep the talk interesting.
  4. Tell interesting stories. People remember stories, anecdotes, and relevant examples because they affect real people’s lives.
  5. Be enthusiastic. Show enthusiasm for your topic and your audience will care about what you have to say.
  6. Personalize your information. Customize the opening of your talk to your audience, and insert relevant points throughout to keep them engaged. Research your audience ahead of time, or talk to a few people before your presentation. I saw a comedian from the U.S. who made a number of jokes about things he saw when he came to town, and we laughed even more because we could relate to the content.

Do you have any tips for providing great presentations? Let me know –

David Gargaro

How to become a better public speaker

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In a previous post, I pondered the idea of developing my own seminar, webinar or workshop on an editing or writing topic that would interest corporate clients. Besides trying to come up with the right topic, another key issue is my introversion, as I do not like to speak in public or converse with strangers. However, I have often been complimented on my public speaking and speech writing, as I think that I am good at it when I put the requisite effort into it.

Many people have a fear of public speaking, but I think the main issue is that people don’t know how to do it well enough to overcome their fear. Here are my four tips on practicing your public speaking and presentation skills while overcoming your fear at the same time:

  1. Work with someone else: Partner with a more experienced presenter, or split the duties with someone else in a similar field. You can focus on specific subjects, or let the other person do the majority of the speaking.
  2. Attend Toastmasters: This organization allows you to learn from experienced public speakers and get constructive feedback on your presentation skills.
  3. Talk at schools: Teachers at high schools and colleges are often open to experts speaking for free on different business topics, or subjects that would interest their students while tying into lessons.
  4. Be prepared: Make sure that you know your material. Do not read from cue cards. Use real examples, case studies and stories that are familiar to you so that you are more comfortable with the content of your presentation.

What tips do you have on becoming a better public speaker? Let me know –

David Gargaro