Keeping in touch
Don’t be a stranger to your customers
If you have been a contractor for any length of time, you will have started to build up a database of customers, prospects and past customers. This could be customers you’ve worked for in the past, contacts you’ve made at networking events or by association, or even the companies you worked for when you were in full time employment.
You may remember them: of course, you do, it is very much in your interest to know how to get in touch when you might want them (namely when you need some work). But do they remember you? Are you just one of a number of contractors who they have used in the past, and could any old contractor do when they need another one? Maybe your surname is Aardvark, and you are the first one in their address book, or perhaps you did do an outstanding job the last time, and they were happy with your work. But neither of these things is a guarantee of getting the next gig.
It’s not what you know or who you know – It’s who knows you that counts
If you are always the first-choice contractor for a particular company then yes, of course, they are going to call you. But what happens when they have several good choices on their books? How do you stand out when other people are almost as good but slightly cheaper, or you only got the job last time because their regular supplier was busy?
The key to being the first person to get the call – every single time – is to be the first one on their mind. To do this, you need to keep in touch regularly and make sure they never forget your name. Depending on how many customers on your list, or how much time you have to do marketing, you can either automate this communication cycle or create a manual, highly personalised system. Either way, I would suggest that you keep in touch with regular and relevant content.
Make it mean something and keep it personal
There are automated email systems, such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact, which you can use to manage communications; or you can send emails manually. But the key is to fill them with consistent, relevant, interesting and non-salesy content. Remember the purpose is simply to keep your name in front of mind for when the right time comes.
My top tips for ‘keeping in touch’ content are:
- Share the latest market information
- Offer advice or tips that might help them
- Announce your wins: new qualifications etc
- Tell stories that give insights into you
- Tell stories that relate to your client
- Update them on new technologies that might help them
You don’t have to do this every week. It depends how long the contracts they usually run tend to be, how frequently the work comes around and how well you know the contact. I would suggest that a monthly email would be an excellent place to start, and then you can monitor the reaction.
Other ways to interact might include:
- Engage with your customers’ social media
- Send a snail-mail letter – the novelty of this is super powerful
- Remember the birthdays of key contacts
- Post relevant content on LinkedIn and connect with key people
- Get yourself invited to networking events where your customers might be (trade shows etc).
Connect with me on LinkedIn and tell me your go-to ways to keep in touch with your network.