TUNE UP YOUR DIGITAL CORRESPONDENCE
Most people have a preference for how they like to communicate. Are you a phone, email or text person? What
are your clients? Part of running a successful business is adapting to your clients preferences. I personally prefer email. I email everyone, doctor, dentist, accountant, insurance agent? basically everyone I can contact via email, I do. I hear complaints from DJs, usually older than me, that they wish people would just pick up the phone and call. Some of that lies in the fact that they think they can sell better when speaking to a prospective client. While for others, they did business for so long primarily over the phone, so they still prefer that. I have a hard time understanding that, since I really like email. However, I can relate since I’m not a fan of text. I use it to communicate with friends, but it is not my preferred method of communication–especially for business.
My biggest gripe with text is how short the messages have to be. However, that is also the best part about text. It forces you to be concise, which I find is key when communicating to prospective clients via email. So, while I rarely communicate with a prospective client via text, I do try to think in terms of text when emailing.
I’m sure there are DJs who have completely sold someone over text. I have not, but I have completed many bookings over email. Over the last couple years, my booking process has shifted and now my goal is to get a meeting with prospective clients. So, while I am not trying to book someone via email, I am still selling the client on meeting with me.
DON’T PUT OFF TO TOMORROW WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
Ever send an email to someone and wait days and days for a response?
Pretty frustrating, isn’t it? If someone has to wait days to get a response from you, there’s a good chance you will end up at the bottom of their list. I am pretty meticulous about responding to emails from prospective clients, as well as current clients, within one business day. I appreciate when someone emails me back quickly, and I know my clients appreciate it too.
I am so serious about responding quickly, I was responding to emails a few hours after my wife gave birth to our second child. I spent all day in the hospital with my wife and the new baby. When they were resting, I got on my computer to respond to a couple emails. It didn’t affect my family time and I was still able to respond to some emails. Some may think that’s a bit overboard, but I own a small business, and I owe it to my clients to give them prompt replies. Fortunately, since I started this practice of responding within one business day, I have not had to break it. If something
came up and I wasn’t able to adhere to that, I would be sure to turn my out-of-office reply on, so people emailing me would know why there was is a delay.
With all that said, I am guilty of sometimes taking longer to respond to business emails that are not from a client or a prospective client. However, I want to give a good impression of myself and my company, so I do my best to respond in a very timely manner to all emails.
JUST SAY NO TO AUTO
Auto responders are great, in a way. They reply to emails for you without any action on your part. For years, I used them when someone would fill out a form on my website. Then I realized how much I hated getting auto responses and stopped using them. If you’re a small company, and run everything yourself, do yourself a favor and personally respond to each email, your clients will appreciate it. If you’re a large company, assign someone to accept all the general email. They should forward emails to the appropriate person in the company or respond if it’s just a general question. No email should ever go unanswered.
I promote that I don’t use auto responders and the feedback I get from clients is great. They know if there’s an email from me in their inbox, I wrote it. It shows personal service and also shows that you’re very organized that you?re able to handle all of your email in a timely manner.
How many times have you gotten an email that said “I am getting married on X date. How much do you charge for a wedding?” Probably more times than you can count. Do you write a new response to that email every time? Hopefully not, or you’ll never get anything done. I use Outlook for my email. Jim Weisz has been a DJ since 1999, primarily serving the wedding and school markets. Originally from Chicago, he relocated his thriving DJ business to Dallas in 2003. He used his company’s web presence to effectively to re-establish his client base within a just a few months. Jim is a seminar speaker and also writes for MobileBeat.com on web issues. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In my drafts folder, I have about 20 different emails saved that I use on a regular basis. In any given day, I get three to five people emailing me asking for information on my services. I have a template email that I use to form my response. I copy it from my drafts, customize it based on the info I have from them, and send the response. In most cases, it takes two or three minutes per email.
Could I just use an auto responder? Sure, but then I lose that personal touch. Also, I could be missing out on key things that I can bring up in the email. For instance, what if the bride lives in the same town as me. I’ll add a little note mentioning that. Or, if I have worked at the venue a lot, I can throw something in to let them know I am very familiar with the venue.
One draft I have is called “website info for new bookings.”
It’s an email with some brief information on how to use my DJ Intelligence client area, along with their login information. I can change a couple things in the email to customize it and have it sent within just a minute or two. Another example is an email to set up our final meeting before the wedding. That one is pretty standard, so I can usually just copy and paste that one, as is. Want to save even more time when dealing with email? Keep them shorter. After 10 years in the industry, I know many of us have a weakness for being long-winded. But when it comes to email, staying concise is key. We live in a Facebook and Twitter world. People are getting more used to communicating in short bursts. Try to shorten up your emails and see if you can find a good balance between being succinct and getting your point across.
Another way to save time is to stay organized. The ONLY emails I have in my inbox are emails I need to handle. That means, if it’s in my inbox, it is there for a reason. Either I need to respond to it, or there is a task associated with it I need to complete. I get a lot of email, yet I rarely have more than 5 items in my inbox.
How does that help? Well, for one, I can very quickly see what emails I still have to handle for the day. I hate wrapping up for the day and having emails I still need to respond to, even if they just came in within the last couple hours. My goal is to handle everything that day.
Another way it helps is that I can find what I’m looking for a lot faster by organizing emails I want to save into folders. I have folders for emails from current clients, past clients, testimonials, other vendors, marketing and hot leads. For the hot leads folder, I will check that once a week and follow-up with anyone I haven’t heard back from who initially seemed interested.
MISCELLANEOUS MAIL MUSINGS
One of my major pet peeves with email addresses is if it isn?t at your domain. Meaning, if your company name is Mobile Beat, your email should be @mobilebeat.com. You can forward that to another email address if you prefer, but you should have an email at your domain as your primary email. It adds credibility to your business.
Email signatures should include some basic information, including your phone number and a link to your website. Don’t get too carried away with a huge signature. It will just add unnecessary clutter to your email.
Find your own balance for how and when to check your email.
If you don’t want to be completely tied to your email, be sure to at least have it up and running during normal business hours. If you don’t mind having it go to your phone, that’s a good option so you can respond when out of the office. However, don’t compromise the professionalism of your emails just to respond from your phone. If you can’t compose a good email from your phone, just wait until you get to your office.
Since I prefer email, I hope email continues to be the most popular method of contact. For my business, I probably get 100 emails for every 1 call I get; and I like that ratio. I like having a paper trail, and the fact that I can respond when I have time. I hate playing phone tag with someone, which is another reason I like email better.
Even if email isn’t your preferred method of contact, you would be wise to do your best to embrace it as best you can since it can lead to more business if handled properly. MB
Filed Under: Business, Issue #140
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