04 Aug Following Up Is the Key to Marketing Success
The importance of following up has become a theme in my life lately. When I see a pattern, I pay attention. After thinking on it, I have come to realize that this simple, easily overlooked activity is one of the top drivers of marketing success.
Let me explain.
The goal of marketing is to build relationships with potential and existing clients. You get on their radar by listening to their needs and sharing helpful information. Once they trust you, they will buy from you when the time is right.
Here’s where following up comes in:
As someone is moving along the path from prospect to client, following up shows you are interested and have value to add.
Once they’re a client, following up shifts a bit; now it shows you are on top of things.
After the project end, a new shift occurs. Now following up keeps the relationship going. You continue to show you’re thinking about them, and this ensures they don’t forget you.
Why following up is so darn important
I’ve always been good about following up, but I was recently reminded about the power of following up.
I’m currently editing a client’s book about the 21 things he’s learned in his career that have propelled his success. This is stuff that’s not taught in school, like being proactive, setting expectations, and so on.
Well, two themes in the book are communication and adding value. In one chapter, he writes:
“As an individual consultant, I am often very busy with client work. I’ll still take calls with prospective clients – or people who could be prospective clients – but I don’t always pursue those opportunities because I don’t have time to take them on. They almost never come to fruition, because I didn’t maintain momentum.
“If I do want the business, I will constantly connect with the right person to offer information and insights of value. This results in exponentially higher levels of success….”
If you pour all that time and effort into marketing yourself/your company/your products and services, building relationships, and earning trust, the next step is following up. Without the follow up, your marketing will inevitably fail.
So let’s take a look at how to effectively follow up based on the stage of your relationship, and how to follow up without looking desperate or creepy.
Following up by stage
After an initial sales call, you don’t always need to follow up. If the call ends with, “I’ll get you a proposal tomorrow/by the end of the week/next week”, then your prospective client already knows they’ll be hearing from you soon.
I will follow up quickly in these two scenarios:
1 – We are not a good fit. In this case, I always try to refer them to someone who is better suited for their needs. If I don’t know of anyone, I will reach out to my network, find the right person, and then make the introduction.
People will remember that you went out of your way to help them. It only takes a few minutes, but it can generate a lot of goodwill and even referrals.
2 – I promise to send them the link to an article or business tool/app or introduce them to someone in my network. If I can help others, I will.
And if the project is a gamechanger for your business, follow up! Remind them why you’re a great fit and share some early ideas of how you think you can help them.
Always follow up after you send a proposal! I give people a few days to review the proposal, and then I follow up and ask if they’d like to jump on a call to discuss it. Sometimes that phone call is the difference between winning the business and losing it to someone else.
A 15-minute phone call allows you to answer questions and overcome possible objections. But it also allows you to continue to build trust. Just by taking the time to talk to them, you’re showing you care and that you want to work with them.
During the project
You won the project – yay!
Once you start working together, establish timelines and expectations. When can they expect a first draft, the deliverable, or whatever the next step is in your work together? What information do you need from them? What information do you owe them?
Send everything when you promise. If something comes up and you’re delayed, let them know asap. Don’t ever leave them hanging, wondering if you’ve forgotten about them.
A corollary to keeping promises: keep communication open. I like to send status updates and check in just because. I can’t tell you how much clients appreciate this.
After the project
It’s so easy to just move on after a project is completed. I stay in touch with clients, but I try not to be intrusive.
All clients are added to my monthly newsletter, and I connect with them on LinkedIn. I also follow up via email every once in a while just to say hi.
These tactics work well for my business. People love my monthly newsletter and often respond to it. LinkedIn can be hit or miss. Some people are super active on it, and some barely log in.
The random email is trickier. I never ask for anything – I really just say “hi” – but I often get a response that includes something along the lines of, “We don’t need your services right now but will reach out when we do.” That’s awesome that they will think of me in the future, but it’s not why I reached out.
Anyway, let’s move onto our next topic:
How to follow up without looking desperate or creepy
Timing is everything, especially if you haven’t landed the client yet. Three consecutive emails after your sales call looks a little cuckoo for cocoa puffs. Play it cool. Collect your thoughts. Follow up with one email within a day or a day and a half.
Likewise, daily status updates might be overkill – unless it’s a complex project and the client requested it. When in doubt, ask your client how often they want to hear from you.
Read the situation
A client who seems a little nervous to pull the trigger – even though they really need the service you offer – might need a little more hand holding at the beginning of the project. More frequent check-ins and follow-ups may be warranted until they experience your awesomeness.
Repeat clients already know you will deliver, but don’t slack off. Keep them in the loop.
Always give, don’t ask
This is especially important when you follow up with past clients. As my experience demonstrates, not asking for something can be interpreted as trying to drum up business. Totally not my style.
Therefore, I try to bring something of value – an article, a tip, an introduction. It could even be something personal, like, “We just got back from Greece, and I know you mentioned you’d love to go. Happy to pass on our travel tips, etc.”
At the end of the day, following up is meant to continue building that relationship. It takes only a few minutes, but this simple activity is worth its weight in gold.