The owner of a printing shop, asked me once how to get more referrals. To help her out I asked a few questions - among other things I wanted to know how does she keep in touch with her customers on a regular basis. "By monthly statements" - she said. She meant bills.
"Do you attach to those bills some sort of personal notes?" - I asked. She just looked at me in a funny way...
I suggested that she sends personal thank you notes to all of her clients once in a while - after all they pay her bills, so she should have enough to thank them for. She said that thank you notes are too common!
Too common??!! - I wanted to know how did she arrive at that conclusion. I know I don't get that many thank you notes and asked if she did. She said she didn't get many notes either.... Why then had she assumed that sending a note to a customer is such a common approach? She had a good answer for that. Her shop prints tons of thank you notes every day -- it is one of the most popular items on her order form. So, she assumed that everybody writes those notes all the time!
It is a mistake that many people make. Actually very few people in business ever send thank you notes and even fewer - and far between - do it on a regular basis. Oh, yes they do buy them, but they keep them in their drawers forever. In a meantime they look for extraordinary ways to WOW! the people around them to get attention and appreciation - and referrals.
There are not many things as powerful as personal notes. You see, personal notes build trust and relationships, the most important elements in any business. They demonstrate your commitment to your contacts and to the service you provide. They are also the perfect way to introduce new products and services to your customers. Writing notes is a cornerstone of any business.
It is nice when someone sends you a short note thanking you for your help on the project - isn't it? Doesn't it make you feel good - even great? Sure it does. Do you remember that salesman who dropped you a "thank you for your time" note? Aren't you more likely to talk with him again? Maybe even send him a referral?
Ah-hah! Referral... Now I got your attention!
Personal notes are even more powerful in the era of electronic communication. It takes only about three minutes to write a note, fold it, stick it in an envelope and mail it but the power of that message is awesome. When almost every one of your online competitors gave up on the snail-mail, you can rip the benefits of this ultimate success weapon. People who send personal notes are though of as gracious, well mannered -- and since so few people do it -- also a clear cut above the rest. Not bad for just one dollar investment!
The power of personal notes is unquestionable. I suggest you send it to every important business contact - prospect, peer, and vendor. But in order to be consistent and rewarded by your note writing, you must develop a systematic approach to it, without losing spontaneity. Here is my Five Step System that will make your notes effective: