What’s the secret to retaining clients so they buy and refer for years?
Two words: Surprise and Delight.
To illustrate, let me tell you the story of The $10,000 Rice Krispies Treat.
You see, a while back, I stayed at the Westin Downtown hotel, in Austin, TX. My client, Bill, was hosting a big meeting for some of his clients.
The quality of the food, rooftop pool, the rooms — they were all pretty much perfect.
But hotels are like baseball umpires.
If they do a perfect job, nobody notices.
To stand out as a hotel (or other “commodity” service), you either have to piss people off or blow them away.
And the staff at the Westin Austin Downtown blew us away. Not with spotless rooms or a 9-course meal, but with … a simple, thoughtful SURPRISE that resulted in DELIGHT.
Here’s what happened. The hotel served Rice Krispies treats at lunch. One of Bill’s employees mentioned that the treats were good, but that he missed his wife’s because she bakes them with Fruity Pebbles.
That night, after he returned to his room, there was a knock on the door. A bellman delivered a special Rice Krispies treat covered in … Fruit Loops. Take a look:
The note says, in part: “We hope you are enjoying your stay at the Westin Austin Downtown. We remember you saying that you liked rice crispy [sic] treats with Fruity Pebbles, and wanted to give you a sense of home while you were away …. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do for you during your stay.”
But how is this “treat” worth $10,000 to the Westin?
Think about it.
The 25 people in our group spent at least 20 minutes talking about it the next day and I still tell people about it, years later.
And that’s not counting the future stays the 25 of us will make at other Westins … or the seminars my client Bill will hold at other Westins … or the viral marketing that resulted.
So, if you add up the value to that free publicity and retention, i.e., future stays to the Westin, it’s at least $10,000. Maybe more.
The best part?
Surprising and delighting your clients so that they buy again and refer others only requires you to … listen.
Listen to what your clients are saying, whether it’s on the phone, by email, or in person.
Then, DELIGHT them by doing something SURPRISING and personal.
It’s a simple process to retain your clients for the long haul.
Want another example?
Check out this email from a very happy client of mine …
How did I SURPRISE and DELIGHT him?
All I did was … listen.
When my client told me how often he used FedEx and what he was paying, I showed him a way to save money that put an extra $1,600 back in his pocket.
And, yes, I retained Ryan for multiple projects over about 5 years.
Bottom line: If you have a business, you have a marketing budget.
And most or all of that budget is devoted to new client acquisition — online marketing, direct mail, trade shows, etc.
But, do you have a client retention budget?
If not, create one. Today.
Find the money somewhere. Anywhere.
Resolve to invest a fixed percentage of your marketing dollars on retaining clients today — with thoughtful, small gifts that SURPRISE and DELIGHT. Like the $10,000 Rice Krispies Treat.
Even better, resolve to listen actively to clients for problems you can solve that go beyond the scope of the project you’re doing. Like the $1,600 I saved for Ryan.
This is retention marketing made simple — and profitable.
Note: client retention is part of a much bigger concept, Client Cloning.
Curious about how this might work for you?
If so, you’re invited to learn more about I can help you here.
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