Graeme Hughes, Director of Sales at the Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau, invited me to speak at his Sales & Marketing Sales Meeting Group retreat. They’ve done a great job (Tucson is a great city) and he wanted to energize and challenge them to build even stronger relationships with their current customers. We talked about various ways to do that including emailing them, but not emailing to say: Just touching base – or any variation of that.
Why can’t you just touch base? It’s not that it sounds silly (though it does especially out of context) but because that base touching is about you, the writer, and has nothing to do with the recipient. If the point is to sustain, build, maintain, expand or enhance the relationship, it’s counterproductive to waste their time with a message that’s about you – and not about them.
Instead of reaching out from a self-centered place, reach out with content that is meaningful to them. The Tucson team came up with great ideas. Then, after the meeting, Graeme was kind enough to pass on to me an article that their webmaster, Erin McNamara Lair, found in Real Simple. It’s chock full of ideas about being nice and truly creating connection. Most of the 48 tips are focused on the simple things we can do in our personal lives to create stronger bonds. But if you read each one from a business perspective, you’ll find a bunch of ideas to help you.
Here are 3 ideas I thought of while reading the article:
Search the internet for articles about the customer’s interests (business or personal) and send them the link. Now the email can read: Thinking of you when I read this article…
If you know your customer has a meeting and you know where it’s being held, send an amenity to the room or a spa certificate.
If you know that the prospect is traveling, send them a great restaurant lead or some other local advice.
The next time you just can’t think of a good reason to email – you know, those emails that you write that are kind of purpose-less (just touching base) and you’re trying to figure out how to get in front of the customer – do something that matters for them. You’ll separate yourself from your competitors, build relationship capital, and make a friend.
Other simple ideas?