A certain commercial has stuck with me for more than 25 years. Here’s the plot: a boss gathers all of his sales reps to let them know that a long-time customer had fired them earlier that day. Their boss informs them that the client said, “he didn’t know us anymore,” and was tired of just getting a fax. The boss proceeded to hand out airline tickets to every member of the sales force and announced a new plan to hold a face-to-face meeting with every one of their customers.
The message of that commercial is powerful. Fast forward to 2016. It’s no longer a fax, it’s email, Skype, GoToMeeting, texts, tweets and posts. Turns out it is even easier than before to think you are connected to your customers and to avoid (probably unintentionally) the face-to-face.
Having been in business in some fashion or another for 34 years, I know the value and importance of building relationships with customers beyond the virtual world we so often live in. At Jet, many of our clients aren’t found across town, but across the state and beyond. So while we need and use all the modern conveniences of email and FedEx, we also make intentional efforts to build relationships which might require the occasional road trip and plane ride.
Jet ensures that our customers know who we are through site visits. There’s no better way to get a sense of the organization you work with than to meet with people face-to-face. This month I’ll be visiting some of our very valuable clients. I’ll gas up the car, make a few hotel reservations and get out the suitcase (which upsets my dog more than my husband), and hit the road.
On these trips, I like to meet with multiple groups at an organization — to hear the CEO’s perspective, to meet with the communications team and talk about specific projects, and to meet with the heads of other departments and hear their point of view. Then depending, I take whomever is available to lunch, dinner, drinks, whatever.
It’s an opportunity to simply say “thank you” – but it’s also a great opportunity to talk about the health of the organization and see how we might help in new ways. The average amount of time a client stays with an agency is 3 years. I like beating those odds, and I think the best way to do that is to connect on personal stuff first, business stuff second.
These site visits are also a great way to get a sense of what is going on locally. There is no replacement for seeing first hand what is happening in a local market. I try to catch the local radio stations, check out the billboards and pick up the local publications. Sometimes I check out the local competition or visit with residents in line at the local coffee shop. It’s important knowledge that you can’t just get online. It’s being involved in and part of your clients’ community.
Granted when the weather is nice, it’s more enjoyable. But like the post office says, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” (source: “National Postal Museum: FAQs”. National Postal Museum. 2011)
In the same way, Jet Marketing is committed to our client partners, no matter where they are.
Jackie O’Hara is the owner and co-founder of Jet Marketing.