The Process of Thanks – 11.24.20

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Gratitude is all the rage, and it is no wonder.  There are countless ways that research has shown it to be an effective tool to improve both physical health to mental health.

But how does that help a business improve their marketing?  How can you develop a process to add tangible value to your customer acquisition and retention strategies?

First and foremost, you know I always recommend starting with a plan.  The marketing outreach that the company and the sales team complete needs to have intentional mechanisms for saying thanks to current clients and prospects.  For some, this is a traditional sales funnel and checklist approach.  For others, this is an ad hoc, individually-driven sales step which means it may be implemented better – or worse – depending on the person driving it.  Still others haven’t incorporated the concept of gratitude into their process.  If that is you, now is the time to make some changes!

Ways you can say thanks:

A follow up email.  Post-call or post-meeting follow up is crucial.  Whether you are the one being pitched or the one presenting, it is important to acknowledge the experience.  Everyone’s time is valuable, every conversation is an opportunity to gain more than just a potential business partnership – you can gain a proponent for what you do.  Even if the business fit is not right, the relationship should be preserved and cultivated.

A handwritten note.  I recently hired a small business financial advisor.  What a delightful surprise it was when a note arrived in my mailbox a few days later.  I felt like I should be the one who was grateful – reconciling 3 years of my QuickBooks bumbling was not a task for the faint of heart – but her note made me feel like she really cared about my business and was glad to have me as a client.  I was delighted.  And spent the next week designing my own notecards so that I could order them (they just came in!) and mimic her process.

Annualized (recurring based on time of year) thank you campaign.  Whether you focus your client appreciation around the holidays or select another time of year to commemorate, it is important to cultivate specific opportunities to say thanks.   I love sending holiday gifts.  I have even been known to deliver them to clients with a big plate of homemade goodies in the past.  Other firms host lavish events for clients (which will resume post-COVID, I am sure) during months with warmer weather, especially here in Chicago.

Second, executing the plan requires some key process elements.  For instance, if you have an email sales funnel that includes an automated trigger for your “thank you”, schedule yourself a quarterly review of your messaging.  You can – and should – tweak it.  If you are following a manual process, schedule yourself a 15 minute time slot in your calendar to compose your email and deliverables or write your thank you note after your meeting.   Or block of some time at the end of the day.  Relying on your memory is unrealistic during busy times.  Building a reminder process is far more effective.  If you also incorporate the annualized thank you, consistently add people to your list.  Don’t wait till it’s “go” time for a large mailing or invitation to assemble your list.  Relying on your memory 9, 10, or 11 months later is likely to set you up for failure.

Making a plan and developing the process elements to make the plan successful require a bit of effort on the front end, but yield tremendous results.  Even an imperfectly applied process is better than no process at all – or even worse, forgetting to say thank you!  The end goal is always to make your clients and customers know they are appreciated.  Especially since I know you love your clients as much as we love ours!!!!