Categories
Customer Relations Marketing

Wine and Dine

It’s past 9:15 p.m. and I’ve just walked into the door of my great little getaway in Orlando. The typical thunderstorms that hit Orlando started right as I opened my hotel room door. Luck was on my side and I’m now able to sit in a semi-luxurious room and write this note as the rain pours down on the little geckos outside my abode.

Ok, this is starting to sound more like a novel…

I’m at a conference with a few geeky people, a few military people, a few contractor people and a few government people. With some luck, perhaps the Star Wars die hard people will be in town before this conference ends. Until then, I will be attending my conference and will actually be presenting tomorrow.

When I attend conferences, I like to have the evenings to myself. I like to take walks, drive around to explore the town, and perhaps drive through a McDonalds for a quick ice cream sundae.

However, tonight I met with a little company that we work with periodically. They heard I was going to be at the conference and they drove an hour and a half to come to dinner with me, on their dime. They didn’t need to, but they decided that they’d really like to get to know me better. Yes, they want my business. Yes, I’m sure they do this with all their clients.

But, seriously, these people are sincere people.

How do I know?

Prior to tonight I knew this about them:

  • Communication – they email us every week or so to see how we are doing or ask if we are going to be at  particular conference.
  • How can I help you? – they regularly ask how they can help us and sometimes write unsolicited white papers for us to consider. They tell us about resources they’ve heard of or share some of the projects that they are allowed to share with us from other contracts.
  • Innovate – they are constantly looking forward so that they can provide innovative solutions to us vs. us having to bring them up to speed on what we are pursuing. We are forward thinkers and so to stay ahead of us takes practice and perseverance.
  • Customer Relationship Managers – they have one or two or even three. Rare for many contractors. They are out to build relationships, not make a quick buck. And, they’ve been in business for over 25 years in an industry that has a lot of turnover.
  • Values that show – they are bold with their values and don’t make excuses. They are known to be kind, generous, and thoughtful while also delivering top notch results.

After “breaking bread” with them, I realized all of the above on a deeper level. Sometimes these attributes feel a bit surface level at first. You aren’t sure the intentions of the other party. You can be a little leery that they are just out to find out what $ you have to burn.

I didn’t feel that way. And, I often do.

These people talked and shared and let me talk and share. They let me guide the conversation, but asked the questions they needed answers to and the right time and without following a hidden agenda.

I felt like this company would take care of me and be good stewards of the money they would be receiving for certain product development efforts. Even if they weren’t working on anything with us, I know it would still have been a great conversation.

And one more key thing – I left motivated to be a little more like them with my interactions with others.

So, a little wining and dining (without the wine in my case and surprisingly theirs – did they follow my lead?) with them tonight took me beyond the surface relationship to a deeper client/contractor relationship.

Who do you think I’m going to think of the next time we have something that needs to be done?

Categories
Nudge Blog

Thank you notes – a personal touch

Who doesn’t like a good thank you note? Photo of Jimmy Fallon writing a thank you note

A few days ago I was up late flipping channels and came across Jimmy Fallon, a late night comedy host. He was going through a segment where he wrote thank you notes to obscure people about obscure things.

It got me to thinking about thank you notes.

I’ve written quite a few in my past, but have been a hit and miss over the past few years. However, a few years ago I was working for Teachers-Teachers.com doing a bit of sales/marketing and decided I needed to do something different.

My friend had just created a watercolor of some paper dolls and I asked if I could use her art for a small fee. I turned the art into a card and wrote a personal thank you note to a huge list of private school and a few public schools districts across the country. Each note was personalized with at least a couple of comments specific to that contact.

Watercolor graphic of three children holding hands

The response was quite amazing – at least for what I considered to be a basic thank you note.

I received phone calls thanking me for such a thoughtful note. Some posted their card in a public place or displayed it on their desk. Some said no one had ever done something like this for them in the workplace.

Some signed up for the service for the first time and others renewed earlier than they had intended.

Do you have customers that need thank you notes from you? Partners? Future clients? People who help you build your business?

It is worth taking a few extra minutes once in a while to write that personalized note. Also valuable, is having a few online accounts on hand to share that electronic card when you are short on time or want to quickly communicate with someone your appreciation.

Here are two that I use on a regular basis:

  • Blue Mountain – http://www.bluemountain.com – a yearly fee under $25 for unlimited electronic cards to unlimited number of people.
  • JibJab – http://www.jibjab.com-you’ve all see their little elves dancing around with your headshot. They offer a yearly fee and quite a few creative electronic card options.

A few hours of pen on paper and it is amazing how relationships are built, improved and sustained.

In an age where everything is electronic, the personal thank you note has even more power. Just be sure you don’t limit it to a “To:” and “From:” message. Add at least a comment or two with a thought. No one wants to feel like they were just another card in the stack of cards.