Customer Connections

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Our current era has been dubbed the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Consider the fact that 90 percent of all data has been created over the last two years alone, and there are 3.5 billion smartphone users. One of the biggest concerns regarding the advancement of technology is how to bring authenticity to the digital age—a topic Deloitte, the world’s largest professional services network, addressed in its 2020 Global Marketing Trends report. “Just as people expect brands to treat them like humans and not merely as transactions, they also expect brands to act more human … and be steadfast and transparent in their beliefs, consistent in their actions and authentic in their intentions,” the report states.

One of the main ways a business can be more human is simply by defining its purpose. According to the report, “Companies that lead with purpose and build around it can achieve continued loyalty, consistency and relevance in the lives of consumers.” For many businesses, this starts in the prospecting step—finding out who is your best customer and then turning these prospects into clients.

“You have to answer these questions first: ‘Who are we as a company, and why do people buy what we serve?’” advises Brad Miller, founder and president of Fort Myers-based Interior Plant Scapes. Miller started his company nearly 40 years ago out of a small doctor’s office, and now serves more than 400 businesses in Southwest Florida, the majority of which are hotels, luxury high-rise condos, car dealerships and country clubs. To find prospects, Miller suggested surveying your current customers, asking what the most important aspect of the work you do for them is and why they love doing business with you. “I think people underestimate how hard it is to get a new customer and the amount of phone calls and work you have to do,” he says. “You’ve got to have a good balance between marketing and sales; you have to have a sales mentality and learn how to ask good questions.”

For example, since country clubs are one of his company’s best prospects, he bought a list of all the country clubs in the market. The list spanned nearly 400 businesses, but he had already been in contact with nearly 100 of them. Miller created a one-to-one campaign and dropped off plants as a gift to start the relationship with new prospects. He didn’t include a sales pitch or an invitation to a meeting. “Because we know who our prospect is and our business is local, we don’t have to market to the masses—we can market to individual people,” says Miller, who also helps grow small businesses through his company Miller Marketing and Training. “You can’t go after everyone.”

So, before you can even ask the marketing question of whether it’s worth going digital, pause and think of your prospects. Miller does zero digital marketing, preferring postcards, direct targeted mail and vehicle wraps instead. “What we create is beautiful space and ambiance, so we want our vehicles to look beautiful,” he says, adding that the company’s 15 banner-wrapped vehicles attract at least two calls a month.

Marketing trends become outdated as quickly as the latest iPhone, so your marketing can’t stand solely on one strategy. Just look at the Yellow Pages. This is why Miller suggests adopting a few strategies to figure out a system that will bring in a continuous stream of prospects. Memorable mail that gets clients talking is one example. Miller sends dead leaves or little green army men with notes saying, “We have an army of gardeners ready to serve you.”

“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘I can’t give you one marketing strategy to get you 100 prospects, but I can give you 100 strategies to get one,’” Miller says. “Send something someone is going to carry around the office and say, ‘You won’t believe what this company just sent.’”


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