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I recently met with someone in my network who I will call Jane.

Jane generates great results for her clients, and offers a competitive price and a great service. Yet, she often loses clients to the competition within a year and a half from the time they sign the first contract.

Jane does a lot of work to move prospects into a buying relationship – but once she has them, she moves on to the next ones. She still communicates with her clients to make sure everything is okay but most of her attention is focused on new client acquisition.

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When she asked me for advice on what to do to keep her clients longer, I immediately shared with her a common oversight of many entrepreneurs.

The reason Jane and other businesses lose clients and don't maximize lifetime value is because of what I call the "cliffhanger paradox."

The cliffhanger paradox

The cliffhanger paradox describes the situation where businesses want continued loyalty and financial gain from clients – but don't get it because they fail to communicate meaningfully, frequently and personally with them.

Like a cliffhanger, both sides are left in suspense.

If businesses don't continuously communicate with clients, they don't know where they stand until those customers either buy again or jump ship to the competition.

And clients don't know whether their provider is right for them because they're not getting the constant reassurance or reiteration of benefits needed to justify current and future money spent.

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Businesses that succumb to the cliffhanger paradox lose potential revenue, forgo the opportunity to develop long-term relationships with clients. and miss out on significant client lifetime value. They don't get the loyalty, endorsements, testimonials, referrals and ongoing business simply because they don't have a strategy in place to frequently communicate with their clients.

To avoid the cliffhanger paradox, take into consideration a few steps that will help to create a stronger bond with clients:

  • Create a calendar with all of your clients on it and ensure you touch base with them at least once every six to eight weeks. If you want, add your top prospects to this list as well.
  • Connect with clients to find out how well your product or service is performing.
  • Reiterate the benefits that clients are receiving, and ensure they are consistent with expectations.
  • Show them how to get better use out of your product or service.
  • Thank them for their business and make them feel valued. Don’t ever overestimate the power of “thank you.”
  • Organize performance checks to ensure products or services are performing optimally.
  • Take clients out for a meal, give them a call or send them a letter to show they are appreciated.

This needs to be a consistent effort. Sporadic contact or communication will not benefit anyone involved. This is how Jane was doing it and it didn't serve her or her clients very well.

How a wardrobe consultant defies the cliffhanger paradox

When it comes to buying suits or accessories, there are many options in the marketplace. Interestingly, out of all the different companies vying for my business, only one gets me to spend my money with it.

The business I buy my suits from has done a great job of keeping me loyal over the years because of how they continually communicate with me.

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My wardrobe consultant understands the importance of being top of mind with her clientele, and makes a concerted effort to communicate personally and meaningfully with me because she knows that, the more she communicates, the stronger the relationship gets. And the stronger the relationship, the more loyal I become to her and her business.

She always finds ways to stay connected with relevant communications. I've come to expect cards in the mail asking how my new shoes fit, accompanied with a $50 gift certificate. She will send a text message telling me that if my new shirts don't fit quite as well as I'd like, I can bring them back for an exchange. She even joined certain social media platforms to let me know whenever my favourite brands are on special promotion.

All of this has kept me coming back for years. She has expanded her business with a consistent focus on providing more advantage, benefits and assistance.

The takeaway

Don't fall for the cliffhanger paradox. Communicate frequently and thoughtfully with your clients to build loyalty, trust, and a competitive advantage over all your competitors. By doing so, you increase the likelihood of getting endorsements, testimonials, referrals and, most importantly, you will likely be able to continue a profitable relationship over a longer period of time.

Special to the Globe and Mail

Ryan Caligiuri is a Winnipeg-based marketing specialist who believes that many organizations are wasting their money on ineffective marketing tactics, that many professionals and students feel lost because their actions don't translate into positive results, and that all three groups are too comfortable following the status quo. He is driven by the desire to refocus their efforts to resurrect the impact of marketing.

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