Key Learning Outcomes
- Learn about how an effective nurture program can turn prospects into loyal clients.
- Understand that in a successful client nurture program, communication adds value to the client relationship, if carried out consistently.
- Recognise that both verbal and non-verbal communication, two-way communication and using a variety of forms of contact are vital in relationship-building.
- Apply our activity mapping process to your business to create an effective client nurture program.
The client nurture program is the journey we take our customers on as we endeavor to move them from being a prospect through to becoming a client. Our client nurture model illustrates this theory in more detail, outlining how important a structured nurture strategy is in the pursuit of creating a loyal client base. The nurture program is made up of all of the various contact points we can use to guide our prospects on this journey towards becoming loyal clients.
A structured and well-designed client nurture program will have two key elements: every communication will add value to the client relationship and it will be delivered consistently.[wlm_ismember]
How you add value will vary from industry to industry and business to business, but the key is to go beyond the expected, and add some surprise and delight to the customer experience. Adding value does not have to be about giving discounts or gifts; you can add value through knowledge and information. It also involves thinking about what type of clients you have and what will interest them. For example, a gourmet food shop may send out seasonal recipes or information on the local jazz in the park event. While neither of these communications directly asks for business, they add value through providing information that complements the client’s interests.
When designing your client nurture program remember not to bite off more than you can chew! If you are starting the program from scratch it is better to start with a few activities, and ensure they are systematised and in place before you start adding more. We see a lot of businesses that start things such as a monthly newsletter, get busy and then send it out once every few months or not at all. To be consistent the communication needs to go out on time, every time.
Not all client contact is created equal
Remember the aim of our nurture program is to build relationships. But you should note that some forms of client contact are more effective than others. It has been proven that when communicating the most effective methods combine both verbal and non-verbal communication. Additionally, when building relationships, two-way communication allows for a higher level of rapport building and mutual understanding.
The forms of contact include:
Face-to-face – This is the most effective way to build relationships as it allows for two-way interaction and for non-verbal communication.
Telephone – This also allows for two-way interaction although it is more difficult to pick up on non-verbal clues.
Personalised written material – This is one-way communication, but shows a level of effort, especially handwritten cards or notes.
Email – This is one-way communication that can be personalised; however, it has been very over used in the last few years.
Social media – This can be effective in getting information and messages to clients and allows for two-way interaction. However, popularity of sites such as Facebook has led to it being flooded with advertising, so it is important to ensure that your message is relevant and adds value to your client base.
Non-personalised communication – Letterbox drops and newsletters are examples. It can be an effective way to get information to clients but offers limited value in relationship building.
SMS – It is one-way communication and limited in its effectiveness.
An effective client nurture program will use a variety of communication methods and will make the communication relevant and where possible personalised.
The first step is to look at your client base categories. Ideally, you will have a consistent program that targets everyone in your client base, and then have some additional contact points for specific groups.
For example, you may have a retail store that stocks clothing for adults and children. Breaking the client base into categories allows for a more carefully targeted communication strategy. In this example, the client base may be broken down into four categories: those that buy adults’ clothing, those that buy children’s clothing and VIP clients for each of these categories.
You then need to start mapping all of the activities as shown in the examples below.
Step 1 – What are we going to do?
Make a list of the activities you want to perform throughout the year and which client base group will be targeted For example, some activities in the clothing store will be for VIP clients only.
Step 2 – How are we going to communicate it?
Step 3 – When are we going to do what?
Map out which activities need to be done and when. This will ensure consistency in your client nurture program. Think about who in the business will be responsible for each activity and what safeguards you can put in place so everything happens on time, every time. Look for opportunities to prepare in advance and never leave things such as writing the monthly newsletter to the last minute.
Client nurture focus
The aim of your client nurture program is to nurture and build client relationships. So it is important that there is consistency not just in the communication that is being sent out, but also in every contact the client has with your business. It is important also to remember that any face-to-face contact will be the most important and influential in building relationships with clients. Client nurture is a key component of the company culture and it is vital that every member of the team understands the value of each and every person that comes into contact with your business.[/wlm_ismember]
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