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The old adage says ‘few businesses plan to fail, but many fail to plan’.  I’ve got a different take on this.  In my experience it’s more like ‘most businesses plan to communicate … but how many actually do?

As copywriters and marketers, we try to look at the bigger picture.  We could write you the best direct mail letter or website copy in the world, but if there are gaps in your marketing activity, you need more than just good copy.  And when we are out talking to people, the most common problem is the failure to communicate … “but I don’t have enough hours in the day” … or “I send Christmas cards every year” … or “well, I keep meaning to send a newsletter”, to name but a few of the excuses!

It might just be my opinion, but I think the success of many a business can be put down to its levels of communication.  For so many people, actually getting in touch with existing customers or prospects is shelved in favour of the quest for new sales.  But it is often said it takes 5 times as much effort (not to mention cost) to make a new sale than it does to make a repeat one.

Think of your customer and prospect base as a bucket of water.  You need to keep the bucket full, but inevitably it’s got a hole.  As fast as you can put new sales in the top, the old ones are pouring out the bottom.  While you’re never going to keep every customer or client for ever, you can stop some of the leakage.  All it takes to plug the hole is a bit of communication.

Communicating with your customers needn’t take long.  It doesn’t have to be a major exercise, or cost a lot of money.  So how can you keep in touch and make sure your company name and profile is the one which is in the fore-front of their minds?

  • Pick up the phone … as BT once said ‘It’s good to talk’.  A quick call now and again could result in a sales opportunity
  • Send an email … just a quick ‘how are you’ or ‘I thought you might be interested to hear …’ could make all the difference
  • Run a newsletter campaign.  It isn’t rocket science and it doesn’t need to be expensive.  Systems such as Constant Contact are efficient and low-cost.
  • Think about PR – it helps you communicate with a much wider market
  • Send text messages.  You can do it yourself or use an online texting service.

If you’re one of the countless companies which hasn’t quite got round to developing the art of communication, why not give it a try.  You don’t need a fancy CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system – just a bit of organisation.  If you’re going to make phone calls, a good old-fashioned card index is as good as anything.

However you manage it, remember: by staying in touch with your business contacts, you’ll find it much easier to keep that bucket full!

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

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