by Laurie Dart
The saying, “nothing is for free” isn’t necessarily true especially when you’re talking about added value services you can offer your client. These are services you offer your clients in addition to your regular services. They can be standalone services or they can incorporate existing features of your current services. Either way, they provide an added value to your clients – once that puts you above your competition in your client’s eyes.
What does it mean to add value to your services and why is it important? There are millions of small businesses out there. You need to create ways to stand apart from the crowd. Value added services are one way to do that. What exactly an added value is will vary based on whether a client is a prospect, a current client, or a past client.
Your most important client is your current client – you do the most for them. Keeping current clients happy reduces your recruitment and marketing costs and increases the stability of your business. You’ll need to direct most of your efforts to this group of clients.
Next are past clients. It stands to reason that re-signing them would require less time and resources than trying to sign a new client. Past clients are also more likely to give you referrals. Your experience with past clients makes it easier to identify value added services that would likely be attractive to them.
Finally, the least amount of energy and expense should be expelled on the potential client. They are the toughest and most expensive. Why – mostly because they know nothing about you. You’ll spend a lot of time and money educating them and determining which value added service is likely to appeal to them.
1. Mail or email an industry-specific article or link to your client with a personal, handwritten note saying "I thought you would find this interesting" etc.
2. Offer alternative forms of payment. Add value for your customers by providing them several different options when paying. Not everyone has a credit card or a PayPal account. When think about your business processes from your customer’s perspective, you’ll quickly realize the added value they receive.
3. Gift Cards, Loyalty Cards, and Prepaid Cards. Boost your business with new revenue channels and increase customer loyalty by offering a gift card, loyalty card, or prepaid card program. A more convenient alternative to gift certificates for your customers, gift card programs also help you build brand awareness. Loyalty card programs reward customers for purchases to keep them coming back.
4. Quarterly progress reports. Send your clients quarterly progress reports and outline what you accomplished together as a team and how you can help them get where they want to go next.
5. Coffee on you – Many of us "do everything except make” for our clients. Send your clients a coffee card with a note saying “today the coffee's on me!"
6. A free sample. Give away free samples of your products or products of local retailers. For example a B&B with a great jam can give away free samples.
7. Client appreciation night. Give your client a movie night on you. Send movies and popcorn with a note letting them know how much you appreciate their business.
8. Celebrate some of the more unusual holidays during the year and give small inexpensive gifts – e.g. National Popcorn Day – give out popcorn (can you tell I like popcorn!).
9. Offer annual meetings to your clients to discuss business at no charge - review progress and goals together for the next year.
10. Partner with another like business and collaborate on a coupon to offer a discount to your clients.
These are just a few ideas of ways to add value to your services. The idea that works best with each particular client will be the one that best matches their needs and interests. Be sure to do your homework. An impressed client is a happy client.
Laurie Dart, author and owner of Writing Wisely provides writing and editing services to entrepreneurs and small business owners. To improve your writing, visit the Web site: www.writingwisely.com.