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Most people work hard to learn a skill set that will take them into their desired career path. You have years of experience practicing and applying those skills. When you become a business owner, you then have to add skills to successfully run the entire operation. There is one universally applicable skill that will serve you well no matter what role you’re playing or who you’re working with. It’s the ability to make others feel valued.
In this latest installment of our conversation with agency owners on the challenges and successes they have with relationship building, we’re going to dig into how making others feel valued is important in every category of business relationship you have and why it drives business growth. If you missed some of our other posts, you can check them out here.
We had a chance to talk with Lori Highby of Keystone Click, a strategic digital marketing agency. In her business, Lori helps her clients build brand awareness and generate leads online through extensive research that provides the data and insights to build out everything from websites to social media, along with paid media and production.
What I have always been impressed with, is Lori’s focus on making the people in her circle feel valued. She does this so intentionally with her prospects and even more so with her team. You can see it pays off so well in the work that she delivers and the growth of her company and employees.
When Lori started her podcast, Social Capital, she followed an approach that she was taught by other leading podcast experts. The Trojan Horse model. In this approach, she used her podcast platform to interview company leaders who she wanted to work with. The conversation was around networking, which is a topic that every business leader has advice to offer. During the interview, she developed a relationship with these connections that she intentionally wanted to nurture. Her approach was to continue to show them, long after the interview, that she valued their time and expertise. Lori says, “Inviting them to be on my podcast is a big opportunity to nurture them a little further beyond just the initial conversations that we have around what we can do for them.” By doing so, she developed opportunities to have discovery calls and further the conversation around their needs.
How did she accomplish this? Intentional sequencing of how she was showing up and making them feel valued the entire time. She accomplished this by using both automation and physical touch points when she felt the lead was important. Here are the highlights of her process:
Step 1 – Once the podcast interview is complete, a handwritten thank you card is mailed to the guest. The message thanks them for their time and expertise.
Step 2 – Four weeks later, the guest receives a framed image that contains a quote from the podcast. This quote is something insightful that the guest shared during the interview. The accompanying message speaks to how impactful the conversation was for the listeners, again, showing the prospect that they are valued.
Step 3 – From this point, there are a series of emails that both engage and share thought leadership from Lori’s side. Lori told us, “We’ve got our webinars, we got our podcasts (multiple), blogs, newsletters…”. Taking time to share your wisdom with the prospect shows them that you are investing in them by offering your expertise. Don’t underestimate the power of your thought leadership.
Over time, Lori’s prospect nurturing has been valuable. One year, she reached a conversion rate of 27% through her efforts of making the prospects feel valued enough to work with her. Think about it – if people feel valued even before they work with you, they wonder what it must be like when they’re a client.
Lori’s target clients are typically industrial manufacturers. As with most marketing clients, their projects are often detailed and take time to develop a proper strategy, let alone implement. It’s just the amount of time that would have anyone asking – are we there yet?! So, it’s not hard to understand why clients sometimes question if they’re a priority or relevant. Lori shared with us that her team tries to stay very high touch, “Lots of zoom calls and emails. It’s a more personalized message that comes from me, whereas the general newsletters just come from Keystone Click.”
Along with those digital touches, Lori’s team is looking for opportunities to celebrate and acknowledge their client’s milestones. Today, they send launch gifts when the client completes a website launch. These developments are very important to a client and it’s important to celebrate that goal achievement with them. By celebrating what’s important to them, you’re showing them just how invested you are in their world. You’re making a statement that what makes them successful matters to you as well.
Lori shared that her team is working on being more intentional about this recognition and celebration for existing clients. They would like to see a nurture sequence for existing clients that maybe reaches out at 3 months and again at the 6-month mark to just say, hey, it’s been great working with you, and we’re excited for what’s to come.” Little efforts like this, showing up on the human level, let people know that they matter, and you see them and what they’re working on. These are the kind of touch points that create long-term loyalty.
Like many other agencies we’ve talked with, Lori does a fantastic job with her ongoing team-building efforts. Some of the relationship-building efforts she mentioned specific to her team are:
Quarterly in-person meetings that always include a fun activity
Holiday dinners at fancy restaurants that include their significant others and a fun gift exchange
Surprise gifting just to tell them she appreciates them and sees their hard work.
Remote employees are treated with a DoorDash gift card to grab lunch for meetings from time to time.
You can see from the ideas shared, just how much Lori invests in her team. They work hard, and studies show that when people feel valued, they work even harder.
Hardworking teams deliver some impressive results. Nothing makes it clearer how hard Lori’s team is working than our favorite team celebration that Lori shared. She has learned how to keep building momentum in their achievements as an organization.
Keystone Click celebrates every time they hit a company sales record of Best Month Ever. Each and every time they achieve this new record, Lori brings the team together for dinner at her house. She treats them to a steak and lobster dinner and toasts their hard work. She tells us “It’s just celebrating our good hard work. And it’s fun. They all appreciate it and I love to cook. So it’s a win-win all around!” We couldn’t have said it better!
Relationships are the cornerstone of what we do at The Expressory. Let's get to know each other and find out if The Expressory can help you grow your brand through personalized experiences. 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.