Find the hook and make your move. It’s easier than you think…

[Image courtesy of Jasleen Kaur at Flickr Creative Commons]

Have you ever thought of contacting and old friend you’ve lost touch with?

You feel a bit embarrassed that you haven’t spoken for such a long time. You wonder if they’ll think your approach inappropriate or unwelcome. Or maybe they won’t even remember who you are.

And when you finally do pluck up the courage and take the plunge, the result is never as bad as you feared. Of course they remember you. No, no, it’s their fault as much as yours. In fact, guess what? They’d been meaning to get in touch for a long time themselves, but wondered if you would remember them.

And suddenly, you’re the best of friends again. 

It’s funny how those old reflexes also kick in when we think about clients who’ve disappeared off the radar. If we get in touch, will they think we’re opportunists? Or worse, stalkers? And will it ruin any personal connection our company has with them if we rekindle the acquaintance just to pitch a new product or service?

As with friends, so with clients. So take a deep breath, then make the first move.

The result is often the same: they’re almost invariably pleased to hear from you, and wonder where you’ve been.

But you should still have a ‘hook’ – a reason to contact them. Just as you wouldn’t contact a long-lost friend simply to say hello and disappear again, so you shouldn’t contact a client without some idea of what you’re going to do next. 

So what’s the hook? Here are some ideas to get you started: 

  1. Anniversary. Your company is 10 years old, and you’re throwing a big virtual party that they’re invited to – with bargains galore, a whole new membership scheme and a brand-new birthday range. Or maybe it’s five years since they placed their first order with you, or a year since you last heard from them. Any timeline will do. It’s just a starting point to get the conversation going again. 
  2. Special offer. Yes, this is a teensy bit opportunist, but it’s also a chance to show an inactive client how much you value them. You could even let them know ahead of time, so they don’t miss out. It’s a bit like being let in the side door of a department store an hour before the bargain hunters stream through the main door for the Boxing Day sales. Make them feel special and they’ll repay the favour. 
  3. Topical tie-in. Whether it’s Brexit or Trump, the Olympics or Wimbledon, there’s always something in the news that you can refer to. If you’re on Ryanair’s mailing list, you’ll know that there’s no item of news too insignificant to latch onto so they can sell more flights to Poznan or Pisa. They usually leaven the mix with a little humour (often dodgy) which is yet another way to fly under the radar. 
  4. Relaunch. Got a new website with snazzy new features? Talk about it. New service? Get the word out. New pricing? Ditto. Whatever you’re relaunching, repackaging or reworking, you’ve got the perfect excuse to get in touch. Just like your special offer, you could say that you wanted people to know about it early so they could take full advantage of it.
  5. How to... Everybody wants to get the inside track, or save time, or get ahead of the pack. So tell them something they don’t know. It could he how to grab a bargain, or get the most out of your product or services, or ‘10 things you didn’t know you could do with…’ – or anything that delivers value fast.

Once you start casting your mind around to think of reasons to get in touch, you’ll be surprised just how many there are. But make sure that you’re delivering knowledge or value, not just doing a sales pitch.

And like a Christmas or birthday card with a handwritten note, try to make it feel personal.

We live in an era of big data and super-advanced CRMs that slice and dice customer information, preferences and habits in just about any way you want. You can tailor not just salutations, but special offers, information and even anniversaries.

Just like your long-lost friend, your long-lost customer will be happy to hear from you. So go on: make that call, send that email, or fire off that text.

You’ll be glad you did. And so will they.