|Photo credit: ©istockphoto.com/Anatoliy Babiy|
Are you one of those contractors who believes if you service a customer once and do a great job, he’ll remember you forever? I wish it was true. Instead, studies show 55% of the customers you lose leave you because you paid them no attention.
This means you’re asking these customers to either forget your name or do a Google search to find it. Either option is a poor one. That’s why newsletters and other retention pieces exist.
Newsletters are to keep your name in the customer’s mind but not as merely a “sales piece.” A newsletter gives you a chance to step beyond the “sales” role and into the “relationship” role. No one likes the person who is always trying to sell them something! You’ll find newsletters build loyalty, referrals and sales far better than screaming advertising messages do.
Customers do 100% of the buying. They also do 100% of the repeat buying. And they do about 100% of the referring. I realize this may be too simple and obvious for most of you, but you’d never guess it by what most contractors do.
A lost customer means you cut off a prime source of future sales and referrals. It’s a loss that carries on for the life of the sales he’s going to give and refer to your competition.
The fact is, previous customers spend their money 31% faster than first-timers. They’re 40% more likely to buy the upsell offer. They’re three times more likely to refer others. And they cost 1/6 the amount to retain as they initially did to attract. Plus, they tend to have an 18% higher transaction size. That’s instant money, right there, from a client you’ve already got.
And since you spend around $300 in marketing costs to get your hard-earned customer, doesn’t it make sense to stay in touch for just pennies more? In fact, if you only service a customer once and they leave, you probably lost money on them! Staying in touch with a newsletter is one of the most effective, least expensive marketing tools you have. In fact, Jay Conrad Levinson — the creator of the Guerilla Marketing concept — says customer newsletters are the No. 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. For many contractors, it’s practically impossible. Once you weigh the amount of time and money spent to create your own version, a professional, syndicated newsletter may prove to be very attractive.
Syndicated newsletters are mass-produced, “semi” custom newsletters with certain parts a company will customize with its own material. You have 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, benefiting from the economy of larger print runs and spread-out production costs.
Using QR codes to link your offline and online world is an added benefit to your newsletter and can increase website traffic and allow you to fit more quality content (how-to’s, energy-saving tips, home remodeling) into your newsletter.
We’ve created web portals for our clients to integrate a newsletter with online marketing efforts. Your newsletter should refer (or gently nudge) your customers to your portal site where they can access more articles and potentially book an appointment.
Having this information linked to your website will increase search engine optimization, findability, presences and, of course, your customer relationships.
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 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.
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 make 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 contractors a choice of 17 different ads, updated regularly, to go in three ad spots.) Educate your customers about the importance of tune-ups, preventive maintenance, money-saving technologies and more.
You can push maintenance agreement sales directly through your newsletter and openly ask for referrals. Why? Because your customers 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 achieve higher loyalty, referrals and sales, as if you were making a personal visit with your customers two to four times a year!