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Part One: For Better
There’s a saying that goes: “Talk good about me; talk bad about me; just as long as you’re talking about me!” It is also kiddingly said that the only thing worse than death is to be forgotten. This may seem extreme, but it is emblematic of the pressing need to be known and remembered; an epidemic that has spread to all industries. Overwhelmed by constant digital noise, companies and business people struggle to be remembered and stay connected with contacts. It’s referred to as “staying top-of-mind.”
Staying top-of-mind is the great challenge in business today. Companies search for ways — from the legitimate to the trivial — to keep in touch with all of the customers and potential customers possible. Webinars. Blogs. E-mails. Advertising. Junk mail. Billboards. Sky writing. Commercials. The messages scream “Know me! Remember me!” All of this effort to stay top-of-mind is contributing to the white noise that, in turn, is making it ever harder to stay top-of-mind. It is the quintessential vicious cycle. So, is all of this effort really necessary? Or worth it? Most would argue “Yes!” Not only is it worth it, but it is absolutely necessary. So what strategies can a company or business person use to stay top-of-mind?
Better to be Looked Over than be Over-looked.
Ask any salesperson, and they will confirm — without a doubt — that the most time-consuming part of their job is just staying top-of-mind with clients and potential clients. The best sales people usually have tried and true techniques for networking and following-up with prospects. They understand that being remembered is the most essential first step to making the sale. They’d much rather be looked over than be over-looked.
Companies also spend a ton of time staying “top-of-mind” with their contacts. It’s called marketing. And companies have become very creative in ways to keep those lines of communication open and staying fresh in people’s minds.
Here are seven major ways to “keep people talking” about you or your brand.
Be a Resource
The easiest way to be remembered by others is by being an invaluable resource. Offering to be a resource is an important way to gain appreciation and trust. To start, a salesperson or business development manager can ask a prospective client about their needs. Figure out how one’s own expertise or resources can be beneficial to the prospective client. If the company is a real estate brokerage firm, a salesperson can find that his expertise in an area such as contracts, software or closing services might be of value to that prospective client. When a good fit between the prospective client’s needs and the salesperson’s skills is found, offer that assistance. People appreciate having access to thought leaders and will remember those good deeds.
For example; an attorney could offer to be the Keynote Speaker at a company’s annual meeting or at their industry conference. The gatekeepers for that company will certainly appreciate the time and energy spent by that attorney preparing for and presenting at that event. For individuals who are top in their field – someone who is a recognized expert within the industry — the willingness to be a resource will open doors. This is where generosity is bound to generate a return.
Even for those who are not industry experts, a willingness to help is always appreciated. The first step is to ask how one might be of assistance. During conversations, it is important to pay special attention to the person’s wants. For example, a salesperson who is willing to help a top decision-maker with his annual charity event is sure to be remembered. Sure, it takes time out of the schedule to not only offer to help but to actually be of help, but is time well-invested. Being of assistance also doesn’t have to be necessarily an investment of time. Sometimes the best help can be to connect people or research information. Help can also be in the form of consulting or even just brainstorming how to solve a problem. The idea is to be there for that contact in some meaningful, useful way.
Living in a post-digital revolution does not, in any way, diminish the importance of face-to-face interaction. In fact, because of the digital noise, face-to-face interactions go much further in solidifying relationships. That was confirmed by Forbes in a survey on face-to-face meetings and business relationships. A whopping 85% of the people surveyed said that they preferred to meet face-to-face because it builds stronger and more meaningful connections. Also, 77% said they preferred in-person meetings because they could read facial expressions and a person’s body language during a meeting or event. And 75% preferred in-person events because it allowed more social interaction and bonding.
Not only is an event a good way to nurture an existing relationship, an event in the office (or outside of the office) is a great opportunity to reach out to people one hasn’t seen in a while. Clients and prospects can be invited to the grand opening of a new office, the launch of a new product, or to introduce a new CEO. This lets clients and prospective clients know what the company is up to and serves as a great, informal way to reconnect.
Send Non Sales-y E-mails
No one wants to get sales emails from sales people on a regular basis. There is already too much noise. And reaching out to every single individual within a database can be virtually impossible for business people with thousands of contacts. It is impossible to send personalized, thoughtful emails to contacts on a regular basis. Thankfully, with so many tech tools available, it is easier than ever before to be able to communicate en masse easily.
A salesperson can send an e-newsletter article, industry development, or other useful piece of information to literally thousands of contacts within minutes. Great content could also be shared in blog posts. The more relevant and educational the information is for the recipient, the better. The key is for it to not be another sales pitch. One must step into the recipient’s shoes and understand what kind of information that person wants, needs and is of interest and value.
Create and Share Content
While sharing articles and information from other sources is a great way to “keep in touch”, creating one’s own original content is even better. There’s always a chance that the contacts already saw information from other sources, but they could not possibly have seen contact that is being created fresh. Fresh information that is relevant and offers a distinct perspective has value. Certainly that is why accounting firms such as Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) and Deloitte publish a comprehensive annual Real Estate Forecast for their real estate industry clients. Creating new content can be time-consuming and challenging but provides a legitimate, invaluable reason to reach out to contacts and “be remembered.”
Engage on Social Media
One of the best and easiest ways to stay ‘connected’ and top-of-mind with contacts is to stay active on social media sites. Came across a great Tweet? Retweet or favorite it. See an interesting Facebook post? Comment and like it. See an interesting LinkedIn post, share it. It is important not just to be a passive viewer of other people’s posts, but actually contribute to the conversation.
For professionals, LinkedIn is a particularly useful site. Joining industry-related Groups is useful. Posting insightful information shows expertise. In the Forums, posting a thought-provoking question that elicits the opinions and expertise of others is also an excellent way to connect with contacts that might have otherwise forgotten you or your brand.
It is probably a good rule of thumb to find a way to make certain that customers, referral sources and hot prospects never go more than about 30 days without some type of contact. These touches should not be overt sales attempts. They should simply keep the lines of communication open and nurture the relationship. If all these suggestions seem too daunting, then go old-school and just pick up the phone and reach out and talk to a “stale contact” just to see how they are. Such impromptu calls are bound to turn up opportunities from time to time too. Even if they don’t, the efforts to stay “top-of-mind” generally pay off with a bigger network of potential referrals and repeat business. The key is that all such efforts be done in a way that is consistent, adds value, and is genuine.
Quote of the Week
“It is not your customer’s job to remember you. It is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don’t forget you.” Patricia Fripp
© 2017, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.