When was the last time you sent an unexpected card at an unexpected time to a client? Do you think it would make a difference? Do you remember your client’s birthdays and other special occasions? Do you think that matters to them? How about a simple thank you or expression of appreciation?
Each year as my birthday approaches I try to take notice of what the companies that I do business with do on this occasion. This year I have received greeting cards from Southwest Airlines, my doctor, Chico’s clothing store, Macy’s, Sephora Cosmetics and others. I look at each of these greetings to try and learn marketing strategies that I can try to incorporate into my own business.
Southwest Airlines included a free drink coupon for my next flight, and I loved what Sephora Cosmetics did. When I stopped in to make a purchase the week before my birthday, the sales clerk entered my transaction and then looked up at me and said “Happy Birthday Anita. You get a special gift today in celebration.” Not only did I get a nice gift, but 5 other people in line were also now wishing me Happy Birthday.
From the department stores, both Macy’s and Chico’s included a coupon as a birthday gift. Macy’s offer was a $10.00 discount on any purchase over $30.00 and Chico’s offered a $10.00 gift card with no limitations on any amount to spend. Both are enticing, but I believe Chico’s was more effective from a marketing standpoint. Chico’s knows full well that the gift card will get me in the store but, based on my previous buying patterns at their store, it is more than likely that I will far exceed spending $30.00. This is a similar tactic to what I have done, which is to offer my best clients a birthday credit to be applied towards their next cruise or vacation. These amount of the credit can vary from $25.00 and up, based on their past travel history. I actually had a client who booked a $10,000.00 family cruise and used the $25.00 credit coupon I had sent him.
It is obvious that these large companies are fully utilizing their database systems, which more than likely have automatic processing that sends out the greeting cards. Even so, there have been a few that stood out because there was something that made it special or more personalized. For example, I was somewhat touched by the card that I received from my Kaiser doctor ,merely because I realized that she took a moment out of her busy day to hand write a personal note. Her greeting card included the Kaiser logo but also included her picture and business card. And then she signed it “In good health”. Is my doctor marketing to me? Of course! Just as our clients have choices for travel providers, at Kaiser I can select a doctor of my choice.
This doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Besides the full featured database management programs, such as AgentBaseConnect, www.agentbaseconnect.com, which has an awesome Dashboard calendar showing every upcoming client event, there are also a multitude of other options for tracking and maintaining this type of client information. Microsoft Outlook has a multi-function calendar that allows you to put in dates that have weekly, monthly or annual recurrences. You can set the reminder to alert you within minutes or days in advance. There are also many online companies, such as www.birthdayalarm.com, that will not only remind you but also allow you to create and send out personalized electronic greetings.
There is an agent named Debora Ervin from Chattanooga, Tennessee who has also made an impression on me with her database management skills. She has attended a few of my presentations and never fails to send a very unique card to express her appreciation and best wishes. The annual holiday card that she sends is one that is completely personalized to each recipient. This card also includes her picture and her agency’s information. I was really surprised and delighted when one of the cards that she sent me had “my” picture on the front. She had created the card from a digital photo that she had taken of me in full costume at a travel conference Halloween party. Debora also included the name of the event, the date and again, on the inside of the card she included her picture in costume, her contact information and another heartfelt note. The company that she uses to create these cards is Send Out Cards – www.sendoutcards.com/appreciatethem. I know how special her efforts have made me feel and I am sure her clients are delighted with her services and caring approach.
Do you think that taking the time to touch your clients like this would make a difference in your business? There is no doubt.
Anita Pagliasso is the author of “How I Made A Small Fortune as a Home-Based Travel Agent” “From Home-Based to POWERHOUSE” and “Anita’s Toolbox for Home-Based Agents CD” (www.redticketproductions.com), President, Host Agency Ticket To Travel (www.travelagentathome.com), Travel Agent Forum Conference Director, and PATH President & Executive Board Member