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How often should you contact clients?
I found a lot of interesting opinions on the subject when I decided to research the issue for this blog. When the topic of discussion is “How frequently should you touch base with your clients?” opinions are varied – and often quite passionate.
In the midst of a project, regular communication is key
First, when working with a client on a project, there should be specific milestones that naturally lead to communication. For example: When we are building a website for a client, we know that we’re going to be reaching out to that client at certain points: when the site diagram is ready for review, upon completion of the initial design, and once the site is available for online review. Of course, web projects naturally lend themselves to a lot of client communication throughout the process, so we’re typically in contact with our clients many other times in addition to those listed. But even if we have a client who is not terribly involved in the process, at least we know there are certain milestones that necessitate a call or a meeting.
For some other projects, communication with the client just happens organically. You may reach out to ask a question or clarify a point. And of course, you always contact the client when you have your work ready to show them.
What about clients with no “active” projects at the moment?
Regardless of your business, you will almost always have some companies you consider clients, but who don’t really have anything “in the pipeline” with you at the moment.
If it’s a client you’ve dealt with for a long time, you should have some idea of their business cycles and when they may need your products or services. If you reach out to them a little before you anticipate they may need you, it can show that you’re attuned to their needs.
If it’s a client you’ve only been working with for a short time, it can be trickier. You don’t want to harass them by calling too frequently, but you also don’t want to give them time to forget about you. This becomes a judgment call, but best practices seem to indicate to contact them at least once every three months (once per quarter), but no more often than once per month.
Contacting “past clients”
The issue of “past clients” is interesting. Many salespeople and entrepreneurs don’t consider anyone a “past client:” Once someone is a client, they are always a client unless there is a very clear parting of ways.
In any event, almost everyone has clients who have been inactive for a while. But these customers should not be ignored. Even if you don’t feel there’s a lot of future potential there, you should be contacting them at least once per quarter.
Getting in touch with prospects
Follow-through is a big problem with a lot of companies, especially small businesses and start-ups where just keeping up with the work that needs to be done can be a challenge.
But if you’ve reached out to a potential client and they’ve shown interest, or even better, a prospect has reached out to you in the past, it is important to nurture those relationships. Don’t just let them die on the vine. Reach out to them at least once every 2-3 months, but make sure you have something to say.
What does it mean to “check in” or “touch base”?
Calling to “check in” or telling someone you’re “touching base” means very little, and seldom leads anywhere. Instead, offer your clients/past clients/prospects something of value when contacting them.
Perhaps your company has a new product or service that would fit their needs. Or maybe you’ve been promoted, and your new position will allow you to offer them more. Maybe you’ve just been tapped to provide products for a Fortune 500 company. Or maybe your company has simply done some really great work recently, and you want to show them the kind of great work you can do for them.
In any event, prepare yourself before you make the call; then you’ll be sure to have something to say.
Email, phone, or face-to-face?
We’re all busy, and people often cringe when they see another meeting on their schedules – especially one for someone they believe is just “touching base,” so a phone call s a good way to communicate with your clients, provide the information you want them to have, and allow them to get back to their day.
There are times, however, that a face-to-face is really the better option. Especially if you have new products/capabilities that would truly benefit your client. Make sure to accommodate the client’s schedule, and be prepared to present your information clearly and concisely. And after your meeting, be sure to follow up with an email or phone call in a few days to reinforce your message and show your appreciation to your client for taking the time to meet with you.
May 30, 2014
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