In these ultra-automated times, I think that we need to embrace a mix of old-school and new-school techniques for finding and retaining clients. As someone who really believes in the power of social networking sites, blogs, podcasts, etc. (although I’m still holding out on Twitter…), I’m not advocating a return to the days when translation assignments were delivered by fax. However, I do think that some old-fashioned touches can really help set you apart from the crowd as a service provider. For example:
- Send handwritten notes. Beatriz Bonnet, CEO of Syntes Language Group offered this tip during the CTA marketing seminar we held a couple of weeks ago. Beatriz gave the example that when someone writes a letter of recommendation for her company or when a client chooses her for an important project, she gets out a pen and paper instead of firing off an e-mail. This strategy popped up again in a New York Times Corner Office interview with Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson, who says that he sends a half dozen handwritten thank you notes per day. During my first year of freelancing, I sent a handwritten note and a business card to everyone who responded to my initial inquiry, and I think that this really helped build up my business.
- Go to work with your clients. I picked up this tip via Facebook from Bethany Siegler of UniqueThink Marketing, who worked at one of her clients’ sites for a day in order to get a better idea of their products. This really intrigued me, because some of my direct clients have very specific business processes or company-specific vocabulary that I would like to see in action.
- Mail some clippings. We all get so many forwarded links…”this is so interesting/funny/weird/scary” and most of us probably let them slide to the bottom of the inbox. But what about printing out that article that makes you think of your special client, then mailing it to them so that they can read it over coffee or while waiting at the dentist? Any information that makes you think of a way your client could increase their own business could be especially helpful; of course attach a handwritten note about what you found interesting in the article!
- Send your holiday gift for an interesting holiday. I always send end of year holiday gifts to my top clients and at least a card to every client I worked with that year, but I’m sure that some of these are lost in the shuffle of everything that everyone else sends for the holidays. Recently I thought that it might be interesting to send all of these items out for St. Jerome’s Day/International Translation Day (September 30) with a St. Jerome-themed card; any holiday having to do with your non-English language might be fun too.
- Send a congratulations gift for your client’s important occasion. If you read in the news that your special client has recently won an award, launched a new venture, etc., make a gesture that shows you notice.
Any other tips on low-tech ways to keep your name fresh in clients’ minds?