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.
If your regular prospecting outreach develops a nickname by the recipients, you’ve probably created a share-worthy experience that makes a valuable impact. It would probably be the equivalent of going viral in the physical space – Is that a thing?! Well, that’s exactly what this week’s guest shared when we spoke.
Tiffany Harris is the President and CEO of Foster Marketing. With 40+ years of experience, this global agency has a heavy focus in the energy sector – Everything from oil and gas to renewables like solar and wind.
When we spoke, Tiffany shared that it’s more important than ever for her team to figure out how to stand out. “I think we’ve lost personal communication… People are not as engaged with you on the level they used to be.” So, we spent some time learning about how Foster maintains its strong and nick-name worthy relationship building efforts.
Over the years, Tiffany’s leadership team has been working to steadily expand the responsibility of new business development. Historically, about 90% of the new business work fell to the owners, and admittedly, this is something Tiffany loves to do. So, when it comes to who manages, this important effort happens between the new business director (or director of first impressions) and the owners.
For the last four years, they’ve really had a robust new business development system in place. They worked hard to maintain about four to five touchpoints a year with prospects. These touchpoints include mailers, phone calls, and events.
When it comes to the three-dimensional mailers, Tiffany tells me that they had tried many different formats, before becoming known for their “send me something” package. Have you ever had prospects try to rush you and then just say – “Ok, just send me something”? That’s what led to the development of this memorable experience that Forester became known for.
The goal of the Send Me Something package was to create a great personal presentation with a story behind it. One of the keys is that the story was something that everyone could relate to when it came to the importance of the work in the energy industry. They wanted the story to apply to the prospect’s day to day activities so that it was really something that would resonate. These packages included items such as shoes and even trees – Whatever it took to really tell the full story they were trying to convey.
Tiffany told me that the team would brainstorm the topics for these packages because they really felt that we’re living “in a world where everybody is inundated with digital assets. How do you stand out when people ask you to send them something?”.
When you become known for a personal experience, you seem to be doing something right. But what would the actual return look like? I wondered if these packages resulted in more prospects coming back to Forester. Tiffany shared that it was a little bit of both. There is always going to be additional follow-up, but yes, they did receive calls with prospects sharing that they loved the “send me something”.
More than that, what they noticed is that the prospects actually answered their calls more often than before they implemented these experiences. They would tell Foster’s team that the gifts were on display on shelves or that it was shared with others on the team. The stories really resonated with the recipients. Overall, they received a higher level of feedback than they did previously.
Now, it still might take a while to get the invite to do a full pitch, but they could see the impact of their efforts. Tiffany shared that experiences like this are a lost art. “You cannot put a price on ROI on what people come back with. You can’t put a price on the feeling that somebody gets when they open it. Or when they touch it.”
When it comes to being strategic in your relationship building and what you use for touchpoints, there are a couple of reasons that an experience like a “send me something” package works. The first being that it breaks the script on what a prospect expects to be sent. Most people would assume that they’re going to receive some traditional sales materials, likely in a digital format. They expect to receive brochures or case studies that list all the reasons you should hire this company. Instead, the Foster team recognized the value in setting up more of the emotional trigger using physical material. As we’ve mentioned before, there are studies that show that physical mailings connect with the part of the brain that engages emotion and assigns value.
Now, when it comes to opening the opportunity for two people to develop a trusting relationship, the thing that Foster got right is that the stories they use in the experience design show the recipient that they are understood. People need 3 things to happen in order to develop a relationship – They need to know you understand them, they need to feel validated/acknowledged, and they need to know you care. A personalized story in this experience sets up the understanding and the validation. Foster is showing that they understand the day-to-day work life for these prospects and validating the importance.
Here are some questions you can ask in order to design experiences that show your recipients you understand and acknowledge them:
What does the recipients’ work address on a regular basis?
What are the pain points the recipient solves for their clients?
What are the recipients’ long-term goals?
What change do the recipients hope to make?
What challenges do the recipients experience as they try to make an impact? Acknowledge these.
How might the recipient celebrate if they made a difference in their space?
Once you have answers to these questions, think about what type of experience might reflect an understanding of achieving these things? How might you motivate or provide inspiration for someone to accomplish these goals? What type of story could you create with physical items that shows you get where they are trying to go? These are the types of things that will trigger an emotional connection between recipient and giver. The strong desire to achieve these goals often moves the recipient to show gratitude and reciprocate the goodwill.
Tiffany says that one of the best taglines she’s ever heard in advertising is “Serve so you can serve again”. I think it’s very clear that she tries to live that by her own clients. When I asked how she serves her clients and prospects, making sure that she’s building long-term relationships with them, she told me, “These guys are looking to us to help make their lives easier. And that doesn’t always mean a brochure, or a website, or whatever. We want to be known as their partner, not just their agency. If they recognize that, then we’re doing our job.”
When you approach relationships as partnerships and look to serve in ways that you can continue to serve, you generally find yourself creating a community of people who are with you for the long haul. They love working with you and tell everyone about how wonderful you are. That’s when you’re doing this relationship building thing right!
Creating experiences that showcase just the right story is what we do at The Expressory. It can be challenging to identify the right physical items to showcase understanding and build a story. We’re always happy to talk through the options for creating just the right experience. Join us for one of our upcoming Q&As and we can talk through ideas for your brand. Or schedule some time to talk and we can discuss an approach that would fit your needs. Click here to schedule time to talk.