In my latest video, I break down how swimming teaches us the importance of these relationship-building efforts and the specifics of what we as leaders need to nurture with our teams.
In an effort to simplify the decision-making process, we're sharing some of the trends we've seen with gifting over the years. We're even sharing our best seller and why that gift had such success.
Last year we had the opportunity to work with one of our clients in the travel and tourism space to design an experience that delivered their highest engagement yet.
In a recent blog post we talked about some agencies looking for ways to recreate the pre-covid relationship-building efforts that used to provide opportunities to get to know their clients on a more human level. It’s tough to connect on that personal level when so much work is now conducted remotely. The fear is that if you never have the chance to get to know someone more personally, how do you really build that emotional loyalty with them? How will you ever learn enough about them to explore those opportunities for shared interests?
One solution became very clear as I spoke with Jacob Hoehne about his challenges and successes with relationship building as an agency owner. Jacob is the Chief Impact Officer of Issimo, an agency that helps mission-driven organizations attract capital and customers by telling better stories.
Jacob told me, “We try to take the crystal clear feeling and passion that they have and translate it out to the organization, donors, or investors. There is some way that the story is articulated that helps others outside of the organization speak to both the head and the heart in a way that gets the right people to pick the right actions.”
When it comes to relationship building with his own connections, we found that Jacob has a natural way of connecting the head and the heart to really get to know his clients better.
Jacob reminded us that there is a tried-and-true approach that can help manage personalization.
Have you ever just asked your clients what they like? What motivates them? What are their goals? What are their interests and favorites?
Jacob shared with us that one practice Issimo uses is to have their clients complete a “Getting to Know You” survey during the on-boarding process. It taps into the things that they probably haven’t covered during the ramp-up on project work. Things like: what’s on their bucket list, what’s their favorite sports team, restaurant, and snack? They try to get a lot of fodder for ways that we could serve them.
Knowing information like this helps Jacob’s team become “hyper-personalized” when it comes to building strong relationships with his clients. He shared that “one guy had always dreamed of driving a motorcycle across a trail and up a mountain in a foreign country. We bought him a book about a guy that had driven a motorcycle across the Sahara.” He shared that another client always wanted to visit Paris, so they bought this person a travel guide.
What makes this approach to relationship building powerful is when you can find something to give the recipient that is related to a goal of theirs. In the examples above, both trips/experiences were future goals. The books will serve as motivation to accomplish those goals. In doing so, and even through the course of working toward, these gifts have provided stories between the giver and recipient to share for years to come. It’s a subject they can discuss while it’s being planned or dreamed of and it’s certainly something they can talk about long after it was accomplished. In some small way, Jacob’s team will now have an emotional tie as a result of that shared story.
If you don’t already have a tool like this in place, creating a “Getting To Know You” survey can help your account team on many levels. When people feel seen and valued, they feel that deeper sense of connection with you. Knowing more about your clients on a personal level will give your team the background to have those more human interactions and set up opportunities to earn their loyalty for the long term.
There are any number of ways to create a form for this purpose. If you google “getting to know you questions” you’ll find many thought starters. Our advice is that you use questions that help you understand:
Opportunities to motivate the client to achieve a goal.
Opportunities to encourage them toward an achievement.
Future ideal state interests.
Shared interests, hobbies or favorites
These types of questions tap into some of the 7 attributes of a strategic gift (goal related, achievement related, and shared experiences). When you can wrap messaging or gifts around those things, you are creating deeper emotional loyalty with a person.
Below are some suggested questions and how you might use them to strengthen your relationships:
If you were to achieve a goal you’ve been working toward for 5 years, how would you celebrate?
When they hit a goal, celebrate them with something related to this answer. Invite them to imagine setting bigger goals and celebrating in the entirety of their dream.
How do you celebrate a win?
Upon the start of a new project, send them something related to this answer and tell them that they can only open it when they have completed this project. You’re weaving a story of working toward and celebrating a win, which leads to a fun memory when they do achieve and open to celebrate – this is all-around feel-good stuff.
What place in the world feels most like home to you? Where do you want to spend more time?
This presents you with any number of avenues to make them feel comfortable together. Maybe you share a love of cabins and can find ways to share stories of cabin adventures.
What’s the adventure you’ve always wanted to embark on?
This is your opportunity to help them dream big and set up a long term conversation – you get to keep talking about “Are we there yet?” And when they get there – you are part of it – that’s an emotional connection!
Who or what has been your greatest inspiration and why?
Many creative opportunities can come out of this question. The simple act of listening in this case is a gift because it makes a person feel understood in a very personal way. When you can find something related to their answer, you then get a boost of another emotional connection as you give them a reminder of how this inspires them. You’re now part of that inspiration.
Once you have this form in place, you need to build in a practice to make use of it. It will do you no good if the form is filed under that client’s folder with the hopes of referring to it someday. You need to make sure you have a systematized plan to make use of it.
Below are 3 touch points that could be used to make sure that each client feels an emotional connection to your team:
Welcome new clients in a personal way – once the on-boarding process is complete and the team has the returned form, use the celebration question to create a personalized welcome package that sets up the goal of celebrating their first project completion.
Anniversary of working together – use your systems to flag when the client has been working with you for a year. At this time, send them a celebratory gift that includes a gift card to a restaurant they would use to celebrate a milestone.
Birthday – on their birthday – send them a message that tells them you hope they’re spending a bit of down time at the answer to the place that feels most at home.
No matter how you develop your questions and actions, make sure that there is a process so that you have consistency in this practice. It’s the consistency that will create the greatest value over time. As Jacob shared with us, it takes a lot of time, yes, but “it’s the extension of caring concern and awareness that is incredibly valuable”
Finding ways to create longer lasting emotional loyalty is what we do at The Expressory. And we would welcome the opportunity to get to know you and your brand. Click here to set up a Marketing Strategy Session or click here to download our free guide for Creating Emotional Loyalty by Design. Let us show you how to design a unique experience that sets you apart.