As we finish 2016 strong and head into 2017, it’s a great time to step back and tweak your marketing so that you head into 2017 with some sustained momentum.

So what will 2017 bring?

First, I see further focus on creating the client experience. Companies who become memorable work hard to master the art of consistent, creative, fun engagement and deliberate, emotional connection with their customers. I highlight many such companies in my book. Creating the experience begins with asking the following questions:

  • Do I have a systematic approach to consistently communicate with my top customers and top prospects?
  • What are my most effective ways I am using to reach my customers today?
  • Do I have a carefully crafted and specific plan in motion to position myself to be the thought leader in my industry, marketplace and community resulting in me staying relevant and “top of mind” with my customers and prospects for when their need for my services arises?
  • What marketing strategies have I tried to improve my business that did and didn’t work?

To create the ultimate customer experience,be prepared to listen and listen to be prepared.Train your staff to listen intently to what customers are saying in the day-to-day operation of your business.Customers who feel like they are being listened to feel accepted and appreciated.There’s an old saying. ” If you want the heart to prompt the mind to do what logic points to, a warm, caring attitude is vital.”

How important is customer recognition?

In 2017, we will see an increased awareness of the importance of customer recognition to retain customers. There is simply no substitute for authentic, personal, human-to-human relationships.

With the rising costs of customer acquisition, I feel companies will place greater emphasis on nurturing what I call the 3 Rs:

  1. Increased customer retention
  2. Increased customer referrals (one of the most cost effective ways of marketing)
  3. Increased customer revenues (per customer)

Customers want to be regularly reminded that they are important to you. It’s not up to your customers to remember you. It’s your job to constantly and consistently remind them of who you are and reinforce why they have a relationship with you.

Take the Lead from Disney

Disney has perfected the consistent customer experience. Disney knows that if you enhance your customer experience and do that in a fun and sociable way, you create customers for life. They understand that Gratitude Marketing is a sound way of doing business.They understand this so well that they connect on such a deep level with their customers that they build bridges to the next generation, their customers’ children. It simply goes back to Walt Disney’s personal mission statement: My mission is to make people happy.Disney realized that it is far less expensive to retain loyal, happy customers than it is to acquire new ones. Their goal is the experience they provide is the best the customer will find, period!!

As the business owner, ask yourself the following 4 questions concerning your customer’s experience:

  • How many many times have I recognized my best customers in the past year?
  • How involved is my staff in creating the ultimate customer experience?
  • How are customers or prospects greeted when they visit your office of when they call your office?
  • Is your staff trained to represent you in a certain way?

Budgeting for next year

When seeking to budget and maximize your marketing spend, realize that traditional marketing speaks at people. Gratitude Marketing engages and connects with people. This will grow your business in a deliberate and measurable manner and allow you to better target and select the clients you want to work with for the long term. It will position you to attract clients, not pursue them.

I am a big believer in the idea that if you want to do more business, start by regularly thanking the people who are already giving you business. You will find this is a very cost effective way to manage your marketing spend.

Focus on this for success in 2017

Be consistent in your marketing. Consistency of your message breeds comfort and familiarity for your customers and prospects. Consistency helps you to be everywhere your customers and prospects are, not just everywhere.

How important will it continue to be for companies to actively engage and connect with their communities. It’s more important than ever. Customers have an increasing number of choices fueled by technology. It’s really very simple. Whoever can check off the most items on a customer’s wish list will win the customer over and stay engaged in a long term relationship. I have boiled down the inventory to three items that matter most:

  1. Customers want to know how you will serve them
  2. Customers need to know what to expect from you
  3. Customers want to understand how communication will work between you and them.

3 Final Points to Keep in Mind

  • While Gratitude is often unexpected, it is always welcomed.
  • The appetite for a sincere thank you is unlimited.
  • Give your customers the best experience possible and you create customers for life.