The key to establishing – and maintaining – long-term relationships with your clients is by keeping in touch, but in a hyper-connected world filled with marketing “noise,” how do you stand out from the crowd? Here are nine ways to connect with clients and be top of mind when they’re ready to use your services or buy your products:

  1. Send Thank You Cards.  Don’t underestimate the power of a handwritten thank you. Make a habit of reaching out to clients after they’ve made a purchase. I had my company logo printed on a plain white card and send it after a meeting as well as after completing a project.  A card in the mail will be a nice surprise, and it will let them know you appreciate their business and will stay on their desk as a reminder of your business.
  2. Partner with Other Businesses.  If there are consulting businesses or companies in your area that offer complimentary products or services, team up and promote each other with special offers. This will give you a reason to contact clients, and it will add more value to your relationship.
  3. Adopt a Cause.  Show current clients that your company is an important member of the community by supporting a charity, and reach potential new clients in the process. Choose something that relates to your business or find out what’s near and dear to your clients. Then volunteer not only your money but your time.
  4. Reach Out to Longtime Clients. Let regulars know you appreciate their repeat business by checking in with them from time to time. Ask how you can better serve them in the future. And consider giving them a sneak peek at upcoming products and services.
  5. Host a Celebration–Host an annual event to honor your clients. Choose a time of year that’s important to your industry, or celebrate the anniversary of your launch. Provide food, fun and prizes, and get ready to mingle.
  6. Provide Complementary Service.  Offer clients complementary tutorials that are related to your field. Host demonstrations online, in your store, or in your office, such as a workshop on new tax credits if you’re an accountant, or a tutorial on a software application. The more you show you care for your customers, the more valuable to them you’ll be.  This is particularly useful when you are first launching your business but is valid throughout your business life cylce.
  7. Support a local cause or a nonprofit.  You’ll get your business name on sponsoring an event or buy tickets to a fundraiser and you’ll strengthen your relationship, making them more likely to speak highly of your business to others.
  8. Establish an Advisory Board. Form a group that reviews your new products and services before they’re launched to the public, and ask existing clients to join. Have them write a review of your product or services. You’ll get great feedback that you can use to tweak the offering before it goes live, and your clients will feel like exclusive members of your team.
  9. Remember Special Dates. If you collect personal customer data, use it! Send a card and a free gift on your client’s birthday. Or keep track of a client’s anniversary of doing business with you; sending an email that recognizes the milestone will foster loyalty.

Decide which one of these creative connecting tools is the best fit for your business. Remember, people do business with people they like. Give customers a chance to get to know you; it could lead to a long- term relationship. “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com