We spend so much time and money on our physical appearance, and focus heavily on websites and paid advertising. But the way to our customer’s heart and increased lifetime value is much simpler and far cheaper. Why do we keep missing this obvious trick?
Making emotional sales
How your customers feel about your business impacts your sales. To be successful you need to inspire trust. This is more than trusting that you’ll provide them with what they’ve paid for. It’s also trust that you’ll act honorably, respect their privacy, and remain in business long enough to support them. Trust that you’ll provide advice that is motivated by your desire to help them and not just sell to them.
You also need to inspire feelings of admiration, respect, and pride to attract customers into your tribe. They need to feel a desire to be associated with you, to care about you, and want to support you.
How you look matters more than it should
We know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But this is exactly what we do, and we just can’t help it. We’re all wired this way. We’re more likely to trust an attractive person, even though we know that looks should have nothing to do with it.
Because we know this, we dress for the occasion. How much have you spent on the clothes you wear when meeting clients? How much time do you spend grooming before going to work or meeting customers?
Your answers may have recently changed, because we’re all doing our part to maintain social distancing. But we’re still dressing up for our Zoom meetings, because our digital presentation matters just as much as our physical looks.
Your most powerful customer experience
There are many ways our customers experience us. And each one of these touchpoints impacts how they feel about us. But not all touchpoints are equal. Two important factors are how often they experience them, and what they are feeling or doing during that experience. A lot of money and attention goes into our websites. This and our paid advertising often create our first impressions, so they really do matter. But first impressions are a long way from our first sale, and are only a small contributor to the customer lifetime value.
The most common, and most emotionally charged experiences your clients have are when they communicate with you. This is also the moment where you’re moving them forward in their relationship with your business. The moment when outcomes matter the most. So it is absolutely critical that these communication experiences make you look good. So good that you inspire the right emotions in your customer.
Your digital face
So take a moment to review the experience your customer has when you communicate with them. When you send them an email, a pdf, a Word doc, or a printed letter, how does it make them feel?
☐ Does the look inspire trust?
☐ Does the style make them feel like joining your tribe?
☐ Does your branding match their experience of your website and paid advertising?
☐ Are brand elements being used to make it modern and professional?
☐ Does it demonstrate how much you care about your business?
If you didn’t tick every one of those boxes, take a moment to imagine what you’d look like in a mirror, if you couldn’t tick off a similar checklist.
What does someone look like when:
☐ Their clothes don’t inspire trust?
☐ Their style makes you not want to be associated with them?
☐ Their insignia, name tag, or uniform doesn’t match the company they come from?
☐ Their accessories, notepad, shoes etc look outdated and shabby?
☐ When they look like they don’t care about their appearance?
If you wouldn’t be seen dead meeting a client looking like that, then you should feel exactly the same way about sending a document or an email to a client causing them the same emotional impact. It’s just as embarrassing. The only difference is you’re not there to experience the shame.
An easy experience is a good experience
You’ve surely tested how it feels to use your website. Everybody does. You know at a gut level that a website which is easy to use increases sales. You check all of your links, and make sure they’re not dead. You test your email addresses are all clickable and start a new email. This is the only way to remain profitable in our digital-first world.
So of course you’ve also checked your letterhead right? You’ve made certain that the link to your website takes them to the right landing page? You’ve double checked that clicking on the email address in the footer opens a new email addressed to you? Please answer yes to this, because if you haven’t made sure your digital letterhead in Word does at least this, you’re turning your back on customers when they want to communicate with you. You’d never do that in real life.
Return on Investment (ROI) has some low hanging fruit
Before making a big decision, we make sure that it will generate a good ROI. When we do this well, we measure both time and cost to the business. But we often don’t get around to looking into the ROI of smaller or frequent investments. Have you ever calculated the ROI on your clothes, accessories, and grooming over the year? Did you include in that calculation how much time you spent on all of these?
Don’t feel bad if you didn’t. Sometimes the value of an investment of time and money is so obvious that we’re wasting our time calculating it. And your website and paid advertising often have such a cost attached to them that calculating the ROI is part of the process.
But somehow, the value of your letterhead, the impact it has on your customers, and how easy it is for your staff to use, just slips through the cracks. If your Word letterhead could be improved, the impact will have such a huge effect on your customers, that just like your clothes, the investment isn’t even worth calculating. But if you did, you’d find it is likely to be the highest ROI out of any business decision you make this year.
Getting it right the first time
Every time I receive an email, document, or letter from someone that looks shabby I am forced to wonder why they haven’t taken some pride in their business. I wanted to know what they were thinking? So I reached out to an industry-leading graphic designer, Kassandra who runs Lakazdi. She provides digital letterhead in Word for a set price.
An interview with Kassandra:
Tim (T:) So Kassandra, thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to chat with me. The first thing I want to know is why do I keep coming across dreadful letterhead and documents from companies that are clearly doing well in other areas of marketing?
Kassandra (K:) It’s the easiest document to overlook.
T: But surely this is also the document that they see most often. I’m sorry but here I’m bundling together both Word letterhead and emails. Is that fair?
K: Yeah, I believe that you can bundle these two types together. But of course they are different. Microsoft Word documents on letterhead are more formal than emails. But I’m always surprised when I come across emails when their signature doesn’t even have a link to their website, or sometimes, no contact details at all. Of course there is less you can do with an email signature than a Microsoft Word letterhead.
T: That makes sense. But back to my other question, surely they see both of these documents more than anything else. How do they not notice that they’re being let down or look bad?
K: I agree. I think it comes down to familiarity. They just look at them so often that they don’t see them anymore. And they’re not thinking about what the customer sees, their perceptions. A lot of people just don’t have the skill or the time to address this issue.
T: I have to ask, is it really time, or is it just not a priority?
K: For people without the software or design skills, a task like this has no real time limit. Not knowing how long it will take you is enough to stop many people from even starting.
T: So if they’re going to get someone else to build them a letterhead template in Microsoft Word, what should they be hoping for? What’s their best possible outcome?
K: The most important thing is it must be so simple to use that it is automatic. It needs to be in Microsoft Word, or Google Docs if that is what they’re using. It must be a template, the one that you get when you open a new document. This means you can’t overwrite it, and it starts fresh with every new document.
It needs to include all of the styles, fonts, colors etc. that set your brand apart. Doing this makes certain every document is consistent. That’s how you build trust and an identity that is associated with that trust.
T: Wow, that’s a whole lot more than I was imagining. I had just been thinking about that final look, rather than usability. So there’s a lot more to a letterhead in Word than the header and footer looking like a printed letterhead.
K: Exactly. Just by selecting styles as you type your document, you can end up with something you’re really proud to share, to send to your customer. And it really can be that simple. You never need to remember font names, sizes, colors or anything. Just click your style and keep focused on what you’re writing.
T: Is there more to a digital letterhead than that?
K: Absolutely, that’s just the backend that makes life so very easy. You also need design elements for the customer to see. This should include your logo, contact details, and a little bit of visual flair. It can be at the top, bottom, down the side of the page, whatever matches your brand. Just make sure it doesn’t impact readability.
Because it’s digital you have the unique opportunity to make web addresses and emails clickable, and you can also just use social media icons that take you to the platforms without having to write out the details that are required in print. This keeps everything looking tidy and increases trackable engagement.
We’re in such a habit of clicking on social media icons that when they don’t respond it is a disappointment.
T: You seem really passionate about letterheads. I’m glad I talked to you about it.
K: I’m passionate about making documents that look great and are easy to use. Letterheads are so important at the moment when we’re not meeting face-to-face so much. And I’d like to see so many businesses lift their game in this area. It is such a simple thing to do, but the impact is huge.