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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Your clients: Cash cows or friends?

Are your clients "cash cows"? (Copyright image purchased from

Justin Sullivan provoked some comments and commendations when he suggested to readers that they should treat their cows, er, customers, well.

Initially, his analogy went a little over my head -- I'm not sure how many of my clients would appreciate being called "cows". But his intent at humor underlies one of the most fundamental principals of marketing.

If you spend just a little more effort in (a) doing your work well and (b) treating your customers, or clients, with respect and even at a higher level, as true colleagues or friends, you will gain far more business success than you can through any other form of marketing.

Justin writes:
What are you doing to build bulletproof relationships with clients?

The biggest mistake I know of in business is to just see the sale. How much money am I going to make this time?


Sure, this couple might be worth a 40k job right now, but what is the lifetime value of them worth? How much business can they bring in for me? How many referrals are they going to give me? How am I rewarding them for those referrals?

A Customer Database is the tool in your arsenal. Use it to its maximum potential.

Do not think about your cows as hamburger. Don't even think about them as business partners.

Think of them as friends and treat them as such. My cows know how valuable they are to me. Some of my cows are my most trusted business associates, and some really good friends.

The Wrap Up

Do not use your database to just shoot of marketing crap. Give value. Use it to keep in touch. Build bulletproof relationships. Let me make this promise to you right now: If you build real relationships with your customers, you won't ever be beaten on price again. Ever. In the history of Ever.
On the surface, this is common sense stuff. Virtually everyone in this business earns most of our revenue from repeat and referred clients and you won't far if your work and client relations are shoddy. But how much do you really think about the quality of your client experience and how you can improve it? Would spending just a little of the resources you allocate to advertising and marketing go much further if you spent it on rewarding, recognizing and connecting with your current and recent clients?
  • Can you improve your procedures and processes to make your clients' lives easier?
  • Simplify forms, offer additional means of communication (with rapid response), structure meetings and project planning sessions to satisfy client wishes, and so on;
  • Can you keep your job site clean or maybe go beyond, with something "extra" for your clients to enjoy at the end of the work day?
  • Can you suggest alternatives which improve your client's interests even though on the surface they may 'harm' yours. (Your short term loss offset by longer-term loyalty?)
So, yes, your current clients are perhaps "cash cows" -- if you treat them with respect and friendship.

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