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Day 89 - Thank You Cards

As you already know, one of the best ways to grow your practice is through word-of-mouth. So today I'll outline a specific way that you can use the mail to capitalize on this approach.

There are professionals who use this method almost exclusively to generate word-of-mouth business and some have reported that this one technique has been primarily responsible for filling their practices.

This is a simple technique, but as you might have guessed from reading through all these lessons so far is that I like keeping things as simple as possible. The simplest strategies are often the most effective. More than that, simple techniques are doable - they get done. This particular technique is incredibly easy, inexpensive and can be used by anyone - whether you've just opened your clinic yesterday or whether you've been in practice for 20 years. Here it is...(drum roll, please)

...hand-written thank you cards.

I know what you're thinking: "You've got to be joking."

I'm dead serious. This is a powerful practice-building tool. Here's why...

At the core of word of mouth marketing is phenomenal service. I call it "Wow" service. We've discussed this already. It's a level of service that goes beyond your clients' basic expectations and makes them say, "Wow." It's service that delights your clients and gets them excited and enthusiastic enough to tell others about you.

That's not going to happen if you do the same as every other massage professional. You need to set yourself apart from the crowd. And hand-written cards do this in a big way.

As unsophisticated as it sounds, hand-written cards can serve as the very foundation of "Wow" service.

It is a truly memorable experience to get a hand written note, especially in an age dominated by email and word processors. Think back to the times when you've received a hand-written thank you card. How did it make you feel? Didn't it make you feel special? Didn't it make you feel like the person who sent the note really cared? It was memorable, wasn't it? I bet you that you felt warm and fuzzy inside, didn't you?

That's exactly why they work so well.

I can vouch for how memorable they are. I refer business to others regularly, but I can tell you with certainty that I've only ever received two hand-written thank you cards as the result of having referred business to others, one from my podiatrist and another from a computer technician. I know it only took a couple minutes to jot down a few sentences, but it doesn't matter. Those cards made me feel really special and appreciated.

Hand-written thank-you cards and notes work to generate more word-of-mouth business because:

It's unexpected and it makes people feel good
It really shows you care and are thinking about them
Shows that you're organized and on top of details
Increases both your trust and affinity with people
Demonstrates that you went out of your way to do something for them
Gives them something tangible and physical that reminds them of you
Is easy to show to co-workers and associates
Is easy and inexpensive for you to do
Can be done virtually every day
Can be done no matter what your budget is
Doesn't take any real "marketing smarts"
Makes you feel good as well as bonded to the client

When do you send them?

At every opportunity. The more the better.

Systemize the task. Make a point of sending out at least one card every day. It will take no more than five minutes. By the end of the year, you will have sent out 280 thank you cards and that can have a tremendous impact on your business. Andrea Nierenberg, author of Nonstop Networking - How To Improve Your Life, Luck And Career suggests the following eight occasions:

1. When customers do business with you, every time. Write a short, personalized "thank you" on an interesting card, letterhead, or even a postcard that says, "I appreciate your business, thank you." You can never say thank you to someone too many times. We all appreciate the fact that people go out of their way to make us feel important and recognized.
2. When they compliment you. When a client compliments you about something, it's an opportunity to jot off a little note of thanks, saying, "Thank you for taking the time for making my day. I appreciate it." Compliments are given so rarely, so take the lead to say thank you when you get one.
3. When clients offer comments or suggestions. It's a wonderful gift when your clients give you a suggestion or comment on how you might do something better or different. They're also giving you an incredible buying signal. They might really be saying, "If you make that change, your product or service will be more attractive to me." Here's how to start this type of note: "Thank you for your suggestion on how I can better serve you. I'm in business to do exactly that. And you make my job easier and so much more enjoyable when you provide input."
4. When customers try something you recommended. When clients buy into something new, solely based on your suggestion, they're going out of their "comfort zone". They're putting trust in you and your product. This calls for another special note that could read, "Thank you for your trust in me. I value your business."
5. When customers recommend you. This is the best form of advertising you can ever get. It's so easy to take the time and go back to our advocate, and say, "thank you for referring me to -----. I will keep you posted and informed on what develops. It means a great deal to me to know that you're willing to recommend me. I appreciate it." This type of "thank you" might include a small gift as well.
6. When customers are patient, or not so patient. Our clients help us when they give us time to learn how to best serve them. Often this requires their patience. On the other hand, they give us a "wake up call" when they ask us to hurry up. When this happens they might really be saying, "Hey, remember me? Keep me in mind, or I just might get swept away by the competition." In either case, pull out a notecard again, and let them know how important they are to you. Perhaps say, "Thanks for keeping me on my toes. I appreciate how you help me keep your business."
7. When clients say "no" to you. You've just pitched an account and you didn't get their business, this time. It's still an opportunity to write a short note. Thank them for their time, their consideration and their honesty. Keep the door open by being friendly and courteous. Research I conducted in the last four years shows that almost 20% of my business comes from prospects that said no the first time. People remembered the notes I sent and it made a difference. Such a difference that I got referrals, even from contacts who were not able to use my services themselves.
8. When customers make you smile. I have one client who e-mails me jokes all the time. Another one will call up and just give me some good news. Whatever it is, it makes me smile, and I want clients to know that they've made me feel good. I'll send them a note with one of those little smile faces stickers. This technique always gets noticed and remembered.

Andrea is known as the "thank you note lady". She's one of those people who have almost entirely built up their business through hand-written thank you notes. She sends them at every opportunity - and I really mean EVERY opportunity. But absolutely nobody forgets her. Her clients love her.

Some tips on making this strategy work...

Stock up on postcards or note cards. If you have them in front of you, you are more likely to use them.
Of course, be sure to have stamps on hand so that the cards you write actually get sent.
When the opportunity arises, write the note as soon as possible. Don't procrastinate or it doesn't get done.
Don't write a novel; just jot down a few sentences. People are going to remember the fact that you took the time to write a note more than they'll remember your actual words.
Make the tone of the note personal and sincere. This is not a form letter, English paper or legal document. Just write like you would talk. It's okay to let your grammar slide a little.
Make a commitment to send at least one card per day. Andrea suggests what she calls the "Power of Three". She recommends taking 15 minutes at the beginning or end of each day to write three short notes: one to a prospect, one to a client and one to a friend - just to say hi, send an article, or say thanks. By the end of the year, you will have made goodwill contacts with almost 800 people.

Make a commitment to try this strategy for the next month. Get a hundred cards and send out three a day as Andrea suggests. After the month, you'll see the results this brings and it will inspire you to continue.

You can now order thank you cards, postcards and note cards designed specifically fo`r massage professionals from BodyworkBiz. Check them out now.

Tomorrow, we'll look at another highly effective way to use the mail to keep in touch with your customers. Stay tuned...

Note: This is Lesson 89 from the Fill Your Practice 101 e-course. How would you like another 100 powerful massage marketing ideas like this delivered to your inbox every day for about five months? Then check out the Fill Your Practice program and order today. More information...

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