It's no secret that almost all of my new clients start by reading my Tuesday Tidbits and that many read for years before finally reaching out.
You might remember, earlier this year I said one of my personal goals was to reach out to as many Tuesday Tidbit readers as possible. I’ve had hundreds of calls and meetings over the past few months.
I am shocked how many of these calls start with the person on the other end saying something like, “I’ve been following you for so long, I feel like I already know you” or, “I feel like I know everything about you.”
When I hear this, one question I’m often thinking is: What’s stopping you from having this sort of relationships with your clients, prospects, and followers?
I think it’s worth dissecting.
In the early days, writing the Tuesday Tidbit was purely a method of disseminating value and hoping to generate new business.
But sometime during the second year (we’re going on almost seven years), when I started talking to a LOT more of my readers, I realized that I was touching on themes and challenges that were pretty universal across industries.
The themes and challenges were coming from writings, and from the broad array of clients and industries I’d been working with.
In the seven years since I started writing tidbits, I've talked to CEOs in hundreds of companies across dozens of industries, and almost every one of them has said something like 'It's like you were sitting in our board meeting last month, and heard all of the issues we're facing right now….”
One of the things that are often most stressful for my clients is the feeling that the challenges they're facing are unique to their company.
“But our company is different…”
Who hasn’t heard this before?
Maybe you’ve even said it.
With the Tidbits, I get to show leaders every week that they're not alone in that, and can even give concrete, valuable suggestions on how to start addressing the most pressing issues.
Here's the kicker though – if you'd never heard of me, and never read a tidbit before, and somehow we got on a call, how much attention and credibility would you give me?
How much would you look at me as a resource, instead of a vendor?
That feeling of "You know me" is essential to have because it helps us start without any of the usual barriers up.
The same is true when you're talking to your clients.
If you've only ever been, "The company who can get the PVC pipe for $.01/unit cheaper,” or “the company who is currently 0.5% cheaper than everyone else,” then you're in for a rough ride–not that you need me to tell you about the dangers of using pricing as your sole competitive advantage.
But, instead you've spent months or years showing your clients that you understand their challenges, and can help them do better, they'll be a lot more willing to listen.
That's the job of marketing–to make life easier for your sales team, which is why the constant in-fighting between sales and marketing is so ridiculous.
Without sales, you have no company.
Without the right kind of marketing, your sales efforts are at a considerable disadvantage.
How well do your clients know you?
And if you’re thinking “That’s great for everybody else, but it wouldn’t work for me because…”
Well, you can say it, but it won’t be right! I’ve seen leaders in the most incredibly unique industries cultivate enduring relationships like this.
Would your prospects and clients alike welcome you as a guest or view you as a random stranger?
If you’re as famous and exciting as Steve Jobs, Sam Walton, or Richard Branson – you can write a book about yourself & your company, and let everybody get that “I know you!” feeling.
If the general public isn’t clamoring to write (or read) a book about you, then go smaller… Make it a habit to have real communication with your clients (phone calls, 1:1 emails, etc.) And if you can supplement that with a weekly or monthly newsletter that they love to read? All the better!
Your challenge this week: Take an honest look at your efforts and ask yourself if you’re doing enough to help prospects and clients alike “get to know you.”
If not, what else could you do?
Here’s a tip: Send a few handwritten letters/notes to your top clients today. It will be an incredibly valuable gesture that will have a demonstrable impact.