I have been working for EnviroScience as a contract writer, and in the process, I’ve learned quite a lot about Milfoilsand aquatic weed control. Each time I write something about a Milfoil weevil and the weeds they eat, I think two things:
1. Lake Chautauqua. The lovely, shallow lake that the Chautauqua Institute is situated on is filled to the brim with the nasty, motorboat propeller choking weeds that the little milfoil love to chomp on. I wish someone from Chautauqua Lake would look into the weevils so I don’t have to swim around the lake with those tangling, leg grabbing weeds. Ick.
2. The pace the weevils work. EnviroScience will tell you that weevils are an eco-friendly solution to chemicals but you have to be patient. It isn’t a solution that happens over night. It takes time for those little Milfoil weevils to eat their way through the weeds.
Not unlike building a relationship with a customer.
Ooooh, did you love that transition?
But it is true. It takes time to build a relationship. You can’t just send a postcard or make a single phone call and think that the customer will be loyal for life. Even if they buy from you, there isn’t any guarantee they won’t turn around and go to the competition next time.
You have to work at it. Eating one weed at a time.
So what are some of the ways you can slowly work at a customer relationship?
- I love Jay Conrad Levinson, the father of Guerilla Marketing. In his book Mastering Guerilla Marketing, he talks about the importance of a vibrant database in which you keep personal, unique information about your customers and prospects. Really listen to the hints they leave. Chances are they are helping to plant the seeds for future purchases. Keep track of one new thing every time you talk to a customer.
- Connect with your customers just cuz. Send a postcard. Send an email. Pick up the phone. “Just thought of you and wondered how you are.” That’s building a relationship – being interested in your customer when their wallet isn’t in their hand.
- Ask them questions. How can I serve you better? In a perfect world, what could I do differently next time? Have your customers define your process, services and products. Amazingly, if you offer what they ask for – guess what – I bet they’ll buy. I am a speaker and trainer and have several presentations/workshops in the can. When a company calls asking about my speaking options, I suggest they visit my speaker site, but I’m always quick to tell them that I’ll customize the presentation. Each session, although it may start with a foundation I’ve used before, becomes totally unique based on the audience’s participation and the industry. They love it. I love it. Win – win.
So like the weevil, do what you do best but know that it takes time to build customer connections. Set your expectations accordingly.