Keep Your Customers

July 21, 2004

Keep The Customers You Paid To Get

By: Adams Hudson

Too many contractors serve customers, but don't ever follow up with them. You may service them once and just "expect" that they'll remember you because you did such a great job. I wish that were true.

Studies show that 55% of the customers you lose leave you because you paid them no attention. This means that you asking these customers to either forget your name or go to the Yellow Pages to find it. Either option is a poor one. That's why newsletters exist.

Newsletters are to keep you name in the customer's mind - but not as merely a "sales piece." Just as no on likes the person who is always trying to sell them something, a newsletter builds a relationship with customers. This relationship builds loyalty, referrals and sales far better than screaming advertising messages do.

And since you spend $275-$325 to get a customer, doesn't it makes sense to stay in touch for just pennies? In fact, if you only service a customer once and he leaves, you probably lost money on him! Staying in touch with a newsletter is one of the most effective, least expensive marketing tools you have. In fact, Jay Conrad Levinson - creator of the Guerilla Marketing concept - says that customer newsletters are the Number 1 Guerilla Marketing weapon.

But creating a newsletter is where most contractors falter. Coming up with well-written articles, laid out in a graphically appealing way and produced on time without bogging down your other business can be hard. In fact for many contractors, it's impossible. Once you weigh the amount of time and money spent to create your own, a professional, syndicated newsletter may prove to be very attractive.

How To Get Your Newsletter Done
Syndicated newsletters are mass-produced, "semi" custom newsletters with certain parts that a company will customize with their own material. Common users are doctors, banks, chiropractors and accountants. These organizations buy newsletters pre-written by someone else. The same newsletter is sold to other organizations in other areas of the country.

Many syndicated newsletter providers also make customization possible by leaving space on the front or back cover for clients to print their names and/or their pictures. Some offer a copywriting service to help create content.

There are several advantages to using a syndicated newsletter service. First, you can produce a quality product without having any editorial and design experience. Second, it saves you the time you would have had to spend researching, writing, editing and producing a newsletter. The overall cost is usually lower, because syndicated newsletters benefit from the economy of larger print runs. They can also spread out editorial and production costs.

For you do-it-yourselfers, there are some advantages to producing the newsletter yourself. Your own publication has more of a personal touch. You have complete control of the content and can better match the newsletter to your current marketing goals and your client profile. By self-publishing, you can also set your own schedule and change the size, length or graphic design to fit your needs.

An alternative is to combine the benefits of syndicated newsletters with those of self-publishing. You can use a syndicated newsletter but personalize it by enclosing a note. You might include an insert page of news unique to your organization and clients. When you do this, try to match the graphic "feel," so the publication appears to come from a single source.

Often, syndicated newsletter services will customize a version of their standard newsletter for you. They can include an article submitted by you targeting your specific readers. Or they may let you purchase the articles alone and use them in your own newsletter.

As you get your newsletter under way, remember, you must offer free but valuable information. Those who use newsletters know the power of "positioning" yourself as a helpful expert. Your website can take this info "interactive" where customers can click, learn, and understand why you are an expert and thus their best contracting choice. It's subtle, but terrifically effective.

For added sales, put an "ad" in your newsletter, or at least print a story about different services you offer. (We offer dealers a choice of 10 different ads to go in 3 ad spots.) Educate your customers about the importance of tune-ups, preventive maintenance, money-saving technologies and more. You can push the Maintenance Agreement sales directly through your newsletter and openly ask for referrals. Why? Because they know and trust you. Your closing ratio with them will always be higher.

So use newsletters to keep your customers buying from you - instead of your competition. You'll stand out from the crowd. Plus you'll achieve higher loyalty, referrals and sales. It's like you're having a personal visit with your customers 2-4 times a year, but without interrupting dinner!

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink “Creative Marketing that Works.” His company creates a full line of marketing tools for contractors including Customer Retention newsletters, Yellow Page ads, “turn-key” Marketing PowerPacks and custom copywriting. You can get a free subscription to his “Sales & Marketing Insider” by faxing your letterhead to 334-262-1115 with the request. Also check out on the web for free marketing tips or call 1-800-489-9099 for more info.

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