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Maggie Harlow

Marketing Your Sign Company Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult

If you focus on your top 20% of customers, the task of keeping in touch with clients won’t seem as daunting.

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WHEN MY SHOP OPENED in 2003 I had a handful of really great customers I built relationships with and kept close, managing their accounts and doing everything to take care of them! They loved me and I loved them.

As my business grew, this became impossible to do all the time and sometimes great customers didn’t know me at all as they worked with my team. Sometimes my favorite clients needed more things than I could help with, so I also had to trust my team with them.

Staying connected to your customers is critical, of course, with lots of ways of doing it. Bear in mind the 80/20 Pareto principle applies so beautifully — 80% of your revenue is generated by 20% of your customers! By applying different strategies, depending on your situation, you can increase the chances of hearing the good, bad and ugly from all of your clients.

Here are some ideas: My advice is to start with one or two. Innovate and adjust to what you can make work, then grow or add on if you want!

Monthly email marketing doesn’t have to be hard. Just a simple photo of a favorite project with a link to “contact us” or your website. You’ll be amazed how many orders or inquiries come back when people just “reply” to your email! Hire someone to build this for you or work with a digitally savvy person on your team.

Automated online programs can connect to your point-of-sale (POS) system, sending out a request for reviews on Google, Facebook, etc. We use ReviewTrackers, but you might ask your POS company which service is best.

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Run reports weekly of estimates written. First, you can easily copy and paste prospect email addresses into an email’s BCC field and send one thank you to everyone for the opportunity. If customers don’t know you as the owner, they may like to hear from you and be able to respond!

Next, pinpoint those clients you want to call. The larger the estimate, the more I recommend you call as well as email to follow up. My standard message is, “How is the team doing so far?” This opens the door to all kinds of feedback.

Run reports monthly on invoiced jobs. Identify those critical customers you may want to send a personal note of thanks.

Invest in an hourly remote employee who can make calls or emails for you. Saving just one unhappy client can easily make up for the expense.

Be sure your contact information is on invoices in case clients have feedback. Create a channel for customers to reach you!

Respond to every single online review! Not only does this make a customer feel appreciated, even if the review is a bad one, but Google also likes to see this interaction and will reward you with “online relevance.”

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Run lists quarterly of your top 20% sales-volume customers. Send a thank you.

Recently our business development employee has been reaching out after every quote with this simple message: “Thanks for allowing us to quote this project for you! How is our team doing taking care of your needs? All feedback is welcome!” The insights and information she gathers are invaluable. How long can we sustain it? Not sure, but we’ll do as many as we can for as long as we can.

Staying connected to customers doesn’t have to be daunting. Just remember 20% of your customers are your main focus and it won’t seem so overwhelming. This effort doesn’t have to be perfect, so don’t stress about building something big, complex and 100% foolproof — just start with some method and build!

Maggie Harlow is the CEO of Signarama Downtown Louisville (Louisville, KY), one of the largest and most prestigious locations for the global sign franchise. Contact Maggie at [email protected]

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