When I ask business owners to inventory their assets, often there is one they forget about.
Somehow it doesn’t occur to them that their list of customers, clients or patients (their herd) should sit at the top of their asset list.
But ask a successful business owner and he will tell you his herd is what gives him greater security than his bank account ever could. Because if you develop your herd and follow-up properly, even if you lost all your money today, you could recoup it from your herd tomorrow.
The thing about herds is that you don’t want to end up with a diseased herd, an inferior herd, or a low-value herd that is filled with “dud” customers who make your life miserable and constantly haggle you on price and terms.
You want a special herd that you love doing business with that, is loyal to you and won’t buy from anyone else but you.
Not only is it much more enjoyable to do business with a special herd, but a special herd means value. It means responsiveness. It means equity.
There are a few important considerations when developing your special herd.
First, you lose value in your herd if you don’t do things to sustain it. You have to follow-up—and you don’t have to go very long doing very little before your herd loses its value all together.
So if you go to all the trouble to get them and then ignore them for a few months, you might as well not have gotten them in the first place.
The thing about follow-up in general is: Most businesspeople fail at it miserably. If you discipline yourself and organize your business to capture full prospect and customer contact information, and then diligently invest in persistent follow-up, you’ll gain enormous competitive advantage.
A cosmetic dentist I’ve assisted with marketing for more than a decade has become very adept at this. He changed his system to capture full contact information from his website visitors (something very few are willing to invest in) and then does sequential, patient, persistent follow-up by direct mail. Previously his conversion rate of website visitors to appointments was below 2%. With this new approach, it is nearly 15%.
Second, many business owners put too much emphasis on the value and not enough emphasis on all the things that cause people to stay in a herd.
Logic says if I give them value and I give them a lot of value for their money and they take what I sell them for “X” and they use that to make “Y” and as long as that happens again and again and again why would they ever leave me? Why would they stop coming back?
That’s a very logical, sensible return on investment approach to a relationship between a consultant, a coach, trainer, advisor, a publisher, etc. and a customer or a client, but it is fatally flawed.
That’s not why people stay in a herd. We can argue it should be why they stay in a herd. But the truth is there are only a small percentage of people who stay for that reason.
People stay in a herd because they feel a sense of belonging and pride of attachment. They stay because they feel you care about them and the results they get. They stay because they attach to a belief system—a higher and more meaningful purpose that you share with them. They stay because you are interesting.
There are, of course, other factors too such as frequency, constancy, and presence.
Frequency matters a lot.
Linked to frequency is constancy.
Constancy is institutionalized, standardized things happening, at the same time, which meets a level of expectation …anticipation. When you subscribe to a magazine, you expect it to come the second week of every single month like clockwork.
Presence. Do you have a presence in their everyday lives? In other words, if they look around, is there something in their everyday environment that is relevant to you. For example, go to a real sports fan’s house who is an avid college or pro team fan and you will see evidence of their team. A mailbox painted with their logo, a coffee mug in the kitchen, an autographed football on display…etc.
Recognize your herd for what it is: the most valuable asset you have. (Tweet this!) And once you start promising valuable relationships with prospects and customers or clients, be sure to follow up to develop them and sustain them.
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