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Business Observer Friday, Sep. 19, 2003 15 years ago

Lou Lasday: Goodwill Marketing Play

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Lou Lasday, an independent marketing adviser residing on Longboat Key, creates action-oriented strategic corporate initiatives for emerging companies. A career direct response executive, he has been a senior partner of a national advertising agency and se

Goodwill Marketing Play

Low-cost personal encounter will have customers calling you.

Here's a simple little technique guaranteed to increase your business volume. It will take no more than 20 minutes every day. The time will be scheduled conveniently for you, at your home or your place of business and you don't have to be respectably dressed during the encounter. Best of all, in addition to increasing your business volume, you'll build customer loyalty. That winning combination assures a heightened level of business that repeats again and again.

And unlike other kinds of goodwill generation, such as a pen or calendar that may be seen, if not remembered, here you'll find direct, traceable, tangible response.

The concept is so simple you'll wonder why you didn't initiate it before.

It involves handwriting just four short personal letters daily, with relatively the same message, addressing four envelopes and posting. That's your 20-minute investment.

Once you start, you will find yourself automatically performing this routine function every day as a rewarding promotion for yourself, your service and your company. It might be difficult to develop the pattern but after a few days, this will become as much a part of your daily routine as opening your mail.

Your efforts for writing these four simple notes will be rewarded instantly. This is not one of those "try this for the balance of the year and see the difference" ideas. Give it just 30 days. The instant results will amaze you.

Here's how it works: You write four notes to four customers every day. The key for this marketing success, of course, is that it must be done every day. Most people just won't do it with any continuity. They'll think of all kinds of excuses for the promotion's failure, before they've devoted any time to ensuring its success. In this case, repetition becomes reputation. The notes can be handwritten with simple company logo, name, address and telephone number on a front cover or flap. The size of page can be similar to a social note. The concept is that this is a personal letter as opposed to a formal business letter. A quick trip to your printer will insure the proper look.

Now pick up a pen and draft some thoughts of gratitude, what you would say to your very best customer while crossing the street if you had just 60 seconds in person to relate your deep and abiding appreciation. Be sincere, magnanimous; even a tad corny. I promise you'll be remembered and rewarded for being so gracious. Now tune up, practice and perform.

The Thank You For Buying Note: When was the last time you received a thank-you note from anyone who sold you anything? Your purchases this year alone have run into the thousands of dollars, but the number of personal, handwritten thank-yous can probably be counted with one finger. When you show interest in the individual, the individual will respond favorably to you at their next time of need. This is a great example for realizing that relationship marketing doesn't end with the sale. That's where it begins.

The Thank You For Being A Customer Note: This one is even more effective because it shows you're really thinking, you care and value the relationship. This is the unexpected, out-of-the-blue personal communication from you to a customer saying thank you for your patronage. A tie-in theme could be Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, corporate anniversary, loyalty reward or just because you're feeling mellow. Above all, be sincere, extra warm and perhaps a bit philosophical. Here, your one-on-one message is a written embrace of gratitude.

The Congratulations Note: Have you ever seen something positive printed in the newspaper about a client or customer? Acknowledge it. Perhaps even enclose the clipping. Here, you're saying you saw the good news - a special event or a singular achievement - and you're thinking about them and share their happiness. You honor their good news. They'll be astonished with your kindness.

The Advanced Notice Note: Do you ever have a new line of merchandise, a special timely offering or an exciting concept that is of current value? If you're a retailer, your announcement may be "come in now" before the general public hears about it. If you're a tax lawyer, you may be telling the client about a change in the law that affects him significantly; an insurance man can mention a new type of personal coverage; an auto dealer, a special non-advertised incentive; a restaurant, its new free wine promotion. This elevates your customer to insider status. You might like this kind of note so much, you'll have an entire blue chip list of special folks who have earned this attention.

These four simple notes should be used in concert and practiced diligently every business day. Put them into play and they'll result in marketing music to your ears. I promise you'll delight in the crescendo being performed on your cash register. The biggest challenge will be the discipline it takes to do it. The reward for you, however, will be measurable and significant.

Lou Lasday, an independent marketing adviser residing on Longboat Key, creates action-oriented strategic corporate initiatives for emerging companies. A career direct response executive, he has been a senior partner of a national advertising agency and served as regional president of the American Marketing Association.

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