As the calendar year comes to an end and you begin to plan for next year's growth, it's important to stay at the forefront of your client's mind. Setting aside time to plan, and then execute on, client engagement strategies can help elevate your brand, and potentially lead to increased sales.
Regardless of whether you have a product or service business, you may want to focus on being the “go-to" source for your client's needs. In my experiences running my own firm and serving on the leadership team of others, I have learned that firms can earn the trust of their clients when they put additional effort into cultivating their client relationships.
These five client engagement strategies I've found may provide a high return for your business, too:
1. Host a thought leadership roundtable or event.
The end of the year, or beginning of the next, can provide ample opportunity to share pertinent insights or reflections with your clients.
For service-oriented businesses that rely heavily on personal connection and rapport, consider packaging these insights into a roundtable format over a meal with existing and prospective clients. Having a mix of current and potential future clients allows prospects to interact directly with people who can validate your work for you.
For product-oriented businesses, consider an in-person or online event that creates community amongst existing and prospective clients. Whatever setting you chose, you can effectively manage your costs by limiting, or expanding, the number of people for the event.
You can also write a blog post of the event and distribute the post widely so that you can share your findings to a wider audience than those in attendance, thus maximizing your reach. As an example, after I wrote about a luncheon roundtable I hosted for Next Street earlier this year, several prospects engaged with our company.
2. Send pertinent articles based on your last conversation or interaction.
Whether you work with clients in-person or engage with them online, many value content curated specifically based on their interests. As a result, you can send articles to clients that are important to them.
For instance, as part of my work with Charisse Says, an online personal investing platform, one client expressed interest in learning more about investing strategies for her children. When our marketing strategist saw an article featuring a new investing product, she sent the article along with a brief paragraph about the article's salient points and referenced our previous investing class.
If you engage with clients online through a newsletter, for example, you should also have access to analytics that track what interests your clients, and thus be able to also follow up with articles of interest. While this strategy is typically more difficult to implement if you do not have a dedicated resource to manage and automate this process, you can test out whether it makes sense to invest more heavily in building this capability.
3. Leverage client social media activity.
There is no shortage of information on why social media matters to any business. That said, many businesses spend a lot of time promoting or advertising their own products and services, rarely taking the approach to engage with their customers or followers on what is top of mind for them.
To help elevate your brand, consider dedicating some of your social media time to engaging directly with what's happening in the lives of your customers and followers without pushing your product or service. Simple acknowledgement and interest in their lives can build customer loyalty for your brand and build the kind of brand ambassadors we all aspire to have—those who mention or recommend our businesses freely.
Since it's not feasible to execute on this strategy for your entire audience, try focusing on the people who engage with you frequently or in some meaningful way.
4. Make introductions that help drive revenue for your clients.
If you have a business-to-business (or B2B) enterprise, you can add tremendous value for your clients by helping them grow their business.
One specific way to do so is to make introductions for them that can potentially lead to increased revenue for their enterprise. Since many B2B enterprises engage in lengthy sales cycles that involve another person to buy their product or service, you are well-positioned to help your clients find qualified leads and shorten their sales cycle.
The end of the year also provides an opportune time to ask your clients to share with you their wish list of potential clients or client types. Keep these in the back of your mind, or better yet, write them down, so that you can use this information to help make introductions for them in the future.
Don't promise upfront to make these introductions, but instead, tell clients that you'll keep their businesses top of mind. However, before you make any introductions, ensure that you are comfortable recommending the product or service to anyone in your network—your reputation matters too.
5. Ask pertinent questions.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked ways to engage clients is to simply ask the right questions.
Here are several questions that you can pose in a year-end letter to clients, a New Year's newsletter, or directly through phone or email depending on the preferred communication medium:
- How can I serve you better?
- Is there anything you'd like to learn more about?
- What new features would you like to see?
- What are you focused on in the next 6-12 months?
- What's top priority for you?
- What keeps you up at night?
You can focus on several of the above questions now, or ask a different question throughout the course of the year. Either way, recognize that these questions can provide pertinent feedback that allows you to successfully engage with clients in the future.
In my own experiences, the above client engagement strategies have worked well to build customer loyalty and drive increased sales. These strategies allow you to potentially grow your business's revenue without clients feeling that you are selling to them and in turn, clients will view you as a trusted partner.
To be successful over the long-run, constantly monitor and evaluate your efforts, and continue to pursue the ones that generate the highest return on investment for your business.
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