Does it make you mad when a customer totally forgets about you? When a customer turns around and hires another painting contractor even though they sung your praises just a few short months ago?
It doesn’t make any sense, does it? Why would a customer make the risky decision to work with a total stranger over a painter they already know, like, and trust?
Here’s the answer: It’s a psychological phenomenon called Cue Dependent Forgetting.
Cue Dependent Forgetting is the inability to recall information because the conditions which were present at the time the memory was stored are not present when the person attempts to recall a memory.
But the good news is this: Although the lost memory cannot be remembered after a certain amount of time, it will come back under the right conditions.
Retrieving memories after a certain amount of time has passed without any relevant “cues” is like trying to find a book in a library without knowing the title of the book or author’s name (or in your case the company name and owner’s name.)
The book is certainly in the library, just like your company is online or in the phone book, but neither can be found without a little help.
You see, this is why painting customers forget you. Because the “cues” that led them to seek you out in the past are no longer present. After the project is complete, your business card goes in the trash can. The estimate and invoice are filed away in the attic or basement.
Without a steady stream of “cues” to aid their memory, your customers simply forget you. Any hopes of retaining the bulk of your client base is hopeless without some sort of calendared “cue” system.
Without a strong following of repeat and referral clients, you are left to virtually “start over” year after year and this leads to stagnant sales, unpredictability, low profits, and higher marketing expenses.
Yes, you can retain a “smattering” of clients who have memories like elephants and “Rain Man,” but these are exceptions to the norm. In fact, if your sales have not continually grown since year one without exception, mathematically, you are losing more customers each year than you are serving.
However, all is not doom and gloom. Consistent newsletter marketing is your cure for “Cue Dependent Forgetting” and all the damage it causes to your bottom-line profits. Newsletter marketing prevents the hard-earned equity from slowly “leak out” of your customer list month after month.
Newsletters remind customers that you are their painter of choice. They can turn a “slow leak of equity” into a steady stream of predictable revenue and referrals for very little time or money.
Using emailed and U.S. Mail newsletters, reach out to your past customers each and every month. If you rely upon email alone, you may be failing to reach up to 93% of your customers depending on open rates and actual consumption.
With the average American getting 80-120 emails per day depending on which study you believe, being in the mailbox where only 2.3 pieces of mail are received on average each day ensures you are more likely to actually connect with your past customers.
Newsletters should have very little to do with painting. Instead, they should focus on establishing a personal connection between the owner, company employees, and the customer.
Include articles that make a connection and reveal your personality along with helpful tips for the home, self-improvement, recipes, trivia, history, and the sort of items you’d actually see in a publication that was “for sale” and read for fun and enjoyment.
Highlight customers, ask for and publically reward referrals, showcase projects, and welcome new clients. Also include a monthly offer, but don’t make the newsletter overly about selling. Newsletters are about “planting” the seeds for sales. Use stand-alone promotional campaigns for “harvesting” the fruits, but do not confuse the purpose of your newsletter with other marketing vehicles.
In closing, don’t be upset if your customers aren’t loyal. Don’t be mad if your percentage of repeat and referral business is below 50-70%. It’s not personal… it’s psychological.
Now that you know Cue Dependent Forgetting is the reason your customers aren’t coming back to you in droves, fix it. Put together an email newsletter and snail-mail newsletter template and get your content out the door monthly.
And do it NOW… before you forget yourself 😉
Brandon Lewis is the Director of the Marketing Department for the Academy for Professional Painting Contractors. The APPC provides done-for-you newsletters along with tons of other turn-key marketing and sales systems exclusively for repaint contractors. To request your free Maximum Repaint Profits written report, CD, and video training series, visit www.PaintersAcademy.com or call 423-800-0520 to request it by phone.