Keeping clients for life isn’t always easy, particularly in professional services industries where there may be a long time between drinks.

Industries like in real estate often find that the lifetime value of a customer can span over 10 – 20 years, often clients only requiring their services every 5-10 years. And as we all know it’s a lot more cost effective to retain existing customers than it is to acquire new ones.

The same could be said for industries such as product design, patent attorney’s, public relations. The lifetime of the right clients could span a long, long time, with big gaps between a client’s need for their services.

A marketing strategy we know (and Gladys loves) is client gifting – and it’s a thoughtful one at that. How does a real estate agent stay top of mind in that 5 year gap, or a patent attorney with the gap between product designs It’s important that when a client has finished their contract after sales service kicks in.

Car dealers have the right idea when it comes to after sales service, they have a clear strategy on how they will continue to derive revenue from a client long after a vehicle is sold. But they also have a strategy to be top of mind for when their clients need to trade-in or purchase a new car.

Recently I bought a new Jeep, whilst the service through the sales process was a little too pushy for my liking I still followed through and bought the car. I was certainly impressed with the after sales service I was given. Apart from their continued offer of discounted services, I received a family portrait voucher as a gift (I bought an SVU – makes sense). I also received a phone call – yes, shocked, a phone call – from a sales person to discuss any ongoing needs and whether I was happy with the car, this was about 3 months after purchasing the car AND without selling me any products during that phone call.

They still continue to check in with me with a personal email every few months. Nice.

Client gifting should be part of a bigger marketing and retention strategy. You can see in this example it’s clear that the car dealer has a marketing strategy in mind when sending me the client gift.

I’ll dissect for you…

  1. The client gift was suitable (or somewhat) for my interests and needs. Buying an SVU they thought I had a family so the gift of family portraits would be relevant to me.
  2. An ongoing “subscription” which is their service and maintenance team. They offer this at a discounted rate. This means I could remain a customer long after the sale.
  3. They requested I complete a survey after sale, this would enable them to collect information that they could use to perfect their sales strategies.
  4. Follow up call to make sure everything was ok. This makes me feel important and somewhat impressed that they didn’t try to sell me any more services. They made me feel like they genuinely care.
  5. Continually keeping in touch with personal emails! I haven’t been subscribed to their database, they take the time to keep me up to date with their services and check in personally. Again, I feel like they care. They are building rapport and a relationship.

Considering all of the above, what do you think the likeliness is that I will remember them when I want to upgrade my car? Pretty high chances. Also what do you think the likeliness is that I will recommend them to friends and family? Highly likely. I mean I’m even bothering to write a blog post about my experience, that must count for something.

So if a similar marketing strategy was applied to another business, let’s say a real estate agency. It’s typical of the agency to make client gifting part of their marketing strategy, but what are they doing after the sale.

Settlement gifts have become a huge part of being in real estate, and they are lovely. Particularly for first home buyers who really don’t expect to receive a gift. Whilst the new home owner may not have been the one to pay the real estate fees, they certainly become a prospect for the future.

If the new home owner has moved to a new area, this real estate agent may be the only one they know. But that won’t last for long. With such a competitive market and by that I mean there’s a new real estate office popping up on every corner every week (well that’s what it feels like) the new home owner can expect to receive countless flyers, magnets and other promotional propaganda at their front door.

Keeping in touch with the right prospects and having a strong marketing strategy will ensure that you’re the first one they call when they need your services again and provide REAL return on investment from your client gifts.

If you have identified a perfect client, don’t let them go!