Posted 17th February 2011.
Most marketing focuses on how to attract and win new clients.
But once you've got 'em, how do you get 'em to stay – and to buy more from you?
Here's an idea introduced by David Maister in his classic work “Managing the Professional Services Firm”. It's the concept of “superpleasing”.
We all know that getting more work from existing clients can be the most profitable source of new business. They already know us and trust us – and we've (hopefully) done good work for them.
So it should be a much easier sell to get them to buy more from us – provided they need the other things we're offering.
Sadly, in most businesses and also for individual practitioners – we focus most of our marketing effort on much lower payoff activities.
Running an advertising campaign, trying to cold call new prospects, or networking to meet new people, for example.
It just seems kind of sexier to focus on brand new clients than it does to build our relationships with our existing and previous ones.
And when we do try to market to existing clients, we often go about it completely the wrong way.
We equate marketing with meetings and “schmoozing”. We invite the client out to an event. Or we arrange for our managing partner to meet them to “chat them up”.
Those are the things our marketing budget is geared up for – events and non-billable time.
Now there's nothing wrong with these activities. Sometimes they're just the right thing. But more often than not there's something much more effective you can do with your time and money.
Think about it from your client's perspective instead.
If you were your client, what would be more valuable to you, what would demonstrate the commitment of a professional more, and what would prove their capabilities more: a chat with the managing partner, or the professional massively overdelivering on the work they're doing for you?
99% of the time, clients will go for the latter.
So instead of spending our marketing time and money schmoozing our current clients – we should spend it “superpleasing” them.
Instead of spending time with clients at a social or business event, or in “marketing meetings” – spend it on the project you're working with them on and do an even better job than you would have done otherwise.
Instead of buying an advert or putting on a marketing event – spend the money to arrange a value-added session with your client's management team where you show them 5 new ways of implementing the results of your work and getting a better ROI.
In short, spend your time and money in any way you can think of so that the client not only thinks you did a great job for them (which should be the baseline) but that they think you've done the best job of any service provider they've hired.
Don't think marketing – think value for your client.
Now you can't do this for every client. You need to focus on the high priority ones who have the potential to give you lots of new business, or strong referrals to other potential clients.
But if you superplease them like this it's the strongest way of getting them to buy more and to reccomend you with enthusiasm