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Ask the experts: Keep top clients by treating them well

By Virginia Bridges
vbridges@newsobserver.com
GN71SHGMP.5
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Olivia Scott, owner and president of Promotional Partners.

Being able to identify and market to target customers are often key ingredients to a small business’ formula for success and survival.

However, retaining top clients is also an important part of the process.

Those top clients often respect your time, value your ideas and are less likely to reduce services or products to a commodity transaction, said Olivia Scott, owner and president of Promotional Partners, an advertising company in Apex that focuses on brand strategies.

“They are working with you, so they’re going to grow as a result of your relationship,” Scott said.

Here are some strategies from Scott to engage and keep top customers.

•  Never stop learning. Take webinars, go to industry shows, read industry publications and earn certifications.

“The more you know, the better resource you will be for others,” Scott said.

•  Make connections and use those contacts to help your clients.

Connections with quality providers of services that are complementary or related to a client’s industry could result in helpful referrals or sources that they can turn to for help or advice.

• Sharing white papers and articles relevant to a client’s business shows that you care enough to help them.

• Invite top clients to be guests at business or education functions, or ask them to be a speaker at those events.

• Offer top customers additional services or discounts beyond the normal scope of business. The added perks can help create a strong, long-term partnership.

• Value your clients’ time by being prepared for meetings and staying on point. Pay attention to their body language and who is doing the talking during these meetings.

• Provide simple gifts that show you know their interests.

Offer something inexpensive such as a cup of their favorite coffee or a homemade dessert. Scott said she recently sent a fire hat and badge to a client who said they were busy putting out fires.

“She loved it,” she said.

Bridges: 919-829-8917; Twitter: @virginiabridges
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