Happy New Year. Without the usual clichés about New Year’s Resolutions being made and quickly broken, I hope and trust that this year will bring everything you wish for.
If you lived through the 80s, or are just a fan of 80s pop (me: yes, and yes!) you’ll probably recognise the title as a line from the Pet Shop Boys’ UK number one ‘West End Girls’. You can play the refresher here if you pine for the 80s as you continue reading…
New Year’s Day is often a time for reflection on what the year ahead might hold. As business owners, you and I are probably more reflective than most today. Whatever last year brought in terms of business success and whatever that means for you as a business owner or family person, I’m sure you have aspirations about what this year might bring. If it’s not something bigger or better than last year, then realistically it’s probably a step backwards. If you’re not aspiring to do more and be more for your clients, or to grow your business to serve them and your family more, then are you being fair to any one of those groups?
I’m not a huge fan of synthpop or, really, of the Pet Shop Boys (*), but the lyric…
If..? When? Why? What? How much have you got?Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe – Pet Shop Boys
…is punchy and direct. As a business owner and occasional business technology coach, it is one that really strikes a chord at this time of year, especially around the topic of client communications. Let’s explore this a little bit further…
Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls
“If”: if you do x, what will y be? If you make certain changes to your business, how it communicates with its clients, how will that produce improved results for you and for them… better clients, better conversions, better relationships. Remember here, that we should treat prospects as clients who are yet to spend money with us – our language shouldn’t really alter.
“When?”: When do you need to do what you’ve planned? Is it a one-off, or an ongoing plan? Hint: it’s more likely to be continuous rather than a one-off.
“Why?”: Is there a reason why you want to improve the quality of your communications or the frequency of them? Will they provide more value? Will being a better and more timely communicator allow you to charge more? I hope so, because that’s very rarely a bad thing for your clients – even if you lose a few – or for you.
“What?”: What do the improved client communications look like? You don’t have to go crazy here, but here’s a minimum suggestion:
- Regular and relevant emails – a couple of times a week, or weekly.
- A monthly physical letter / newsletter… because there’s still something delightful about receiving welcome post.
- Pick up the phone and call clients. Pick a regular hour, one day per week and just pick up the phone and call two or three clients a week. Make time to speak with clients and past clients outside the work you’ve contracted to do for them.
- More regular blogging or social posting. They don’t have to be long posts – do whatever feels comfortable. But share your insights and tips with your network and audience. Written posts on your website, as LinkedIn posts or articles – or even creating a YouTube channel that you can syndicate content-wise in more places – are great start points for simple, regular blog content. You’ve built the experience and expertise in your field that clients who know and trust you will pay you for, but if the rest of the world and other ideal prospects don’t get to see this, that’s not going to help you to grow your business.
- Four simple automation sequences:
- New subscribers – a buyer fast track that gets to the ‘ask’ relatively quickly for those lurkers who want to take action with buying from you more quickly. This can be an 5 or 6 email sequence over 10-14 days.
- Slow action takers – a sequence that takes those who haven’t taken action in the first two weeks. This sequence might last anywhere from a month to a few years, depending on what your sales decision process looks like.
- New clients – consider what the perfect welcome you would want somebody to have when they buy from you. Then write it down in an email and physical mail sequence.
- Past clients – how do you want to re-engage those more ideal clients who’ve bought something from you before? Remembering that we don’t want to work with everybody again, but there will be people on your database who you’d love to provide value to and work with again.
“How much have you got?”: This question could well be about income, revenue, or profits, and I’m sure you have aspirations here. But the resource that’s most scarce for small business owners is usually ‘time’. How much time are you going to set aside for this, one of the most crucial parts of your business? Will the day continue to start with fire-fighting emails, or have you realised that your inbox is an unfiltered unprioritised amalgamation of other people’s to-do lists? Going offline and getting focused is a great way to assign priority to all the above communications.
The “If..? When? Why? What? How much have you got?” lyric has been interpreted in so many different ways, and I trust that Tennant and Lowe would forgive me for twisting it in a business riff 35 years after first release. But whatever the year has in store for you, I trust this line from West End Girls line gets you thinking about your plan for it before you get immersed again in your clients’ busy-busy-ness.
Happy New Year.
(*) ‘Go West’ is, however, a tremendous refrain for a football chant 😜