You’d hardly think of doing some extra carpet cleaning work for free as a way to improve your profitability.
But you’d be wrong.
Say, for example, you finished-up a full carpet cleaning job on a good size home. Nice bit of work.
You get a call two days later from the homeowner. She’s upset and a bit embarrassed. Her young daughter is sick and just vomited right in the middle of the living room carpet you cleaned so well. And her family reunion is this weekend. Could you come-out and get that spot one more time?
Now this women is your ideal target client. Her home is large, in an affluent neighborhood. She clearly keeps a very tidy home, so you’re looking at once a year for a nice size job.
And she has lot’s of friends in that neighborhood. Lots of carpet. You could make a career of a few square miles.
So when she calls about her accident, you are happy to oblige. You work it into your schedule. You know what it means to her.
And here’s the twist: you’re going to make more money out of this by not charging her.
She’s gonna offer to pay. She doesn’t expect you to do this for free. But you won’t take her money. You want to help her out because she’s nice and you know she’s in a spot with her family coming.
For that 30 minutes of free work you’ve bought yourself something of huge value: a connection.
Today, we operate in what Seth Godin calls the connection economy. The foundation of this principle is way we connect and develop communities online.
So you clean this client’s carpet for free. She’s delighted by your helpfulness. So delighted, she goes on Facebook and posts a photo of her living room (with carpets so clean) and tells the story of how her daughter almost made her mark on the coming family reunion. Except that her carpet cleaning guy returned, a knight in a white button down shirt. He took care of it – and was nice enough to do it for free!
That morning, every one of the neighbors she’s friends with with on Facebook sees the post. They look down at their carpets and start to think it’s time for some professional cleaning.
Who are they going to call?
They’ll look you up by name! You’ve just done some serious connection marketing, which started with a genuine, helpful act. You made yourself the kind of person people want to connect with – somebody who’s not just out to bill for everything.
So you get tagged in some Facebook posts and gain more followers for your page. Of course you add this story to your page (you are marketing your business here). Others visit your website and sign up for your newsletter, where you offer tips on how to keep carpets cleaner, deal with stains and spills, avoid allergens, choose the best home vacuums, and all kinds of other fine, free tips.
These marketing connections work in two ways.
The first is to create positive word of mouth online. Your happy customers doesn’t just post about you on Facebook, she also goes on Yelp and writes you a glowing review. These become positive referrals that can work on in perpetuity, helping you generate high quality carpet cleaning leads.
The second is the power of marketing connections to help with client retention. Today, your customer is overwhelmed by your helpful generosity. But in six months, her memory will waiver.
But she won’t forget you. Because you’ve gotten her permission to maintain that connection. She sees you on social media. She gets your newsletter in her email and snail mail box. She knows about your new services and latest special offers.
Connection marketing is a natural for improving customer retention. Retention goals are, after all, built around maintaining a connection.
There was a time, before the industrial revolution, that there weren’t price tags on all goods and services. Some people only bought from – and sold to – people they respected. Others charged only what they thought their customer could afford.
One rule of connection marketing: nobody wants to connect with someone who’s always going to take.
When creating connections, you usually have to give before you can receive. Smart marketers know how much that’s worth.