As marketing professionals, we’re always exhorting our clients to maintain consistent contact with their referral sources and current, former and prospective clients. Efforts to stay in touch can range from a game of golf to sending them your most recent e-newsletter or encouraging them to read your latest tweet. I’d like to share two examples of failing to communicate consistently and the potential consequences for your business. While these examples aren’t from professional services, the same marketing principle applies.
When my husband and I went to Africa four years ago, we used a travel agent who specialized in trips to Africa. She was terrific, as was the tour company she represented. However, I’ve heard nothing from either the agent or the tour company since that trip—not an email, piece of mail or anything. Since then, for trips elsewhere in the world, we’ve used another agent who has been great (Sandy Sankary, Willett Travel). When I mentioned that next year we may be returning to Africa and that I’d like to go with the same safari outfit as before, she said that she is able to book trips with them. But then I wondered if I owe any allegiance to the first agent. However, she’s made no effort to maintain even a tenuous link—no phone call once or twice a year; no handwritten note accompanying a trip brochure. For me, the lack of communication broke the link and helped me make my decision to go with the agent I’ve used most recently.
In a similar vein, here’s an example from auto leasing. For the past three cars, I’ve worked through an auto broker with whom I’ve been happy. However, again, once a transaction is complete, I don’t hear anything from him. So when I heard a lot of good buzz about an auto broker in one of my networking groups, I was torn. When my lease runs out in about four months, do I owe anything to the person who has consistently performed well, or do I try someone new? I will most likely call the new prospect, but decided to call my original broker first. Since I never hear from him in between transactions, I literally had to search my database trying to remember his name. When I spoke with him, he remembered me and located my paperwork immediately, which felt good because it was familiar. On the other hand, as a marketer, I wondered why it was on me to reinitiate contact. Why didn’t he call me if he knew my lease would be up soon and ask what I’d like to do?
I understand that different people have different degrees of desire to grow their business. The professionals described above may have all the business they want, may have socked money away and be ready to retire, or may just have a que sera attitude. But if you’re more intent than they are on growing your business or professional services firm, the lessons from the lack of consistent communication described above are good food for thought.