Does Soft Marketing Really Work?
When money is tight, it can be hard to invest in what some business owners might consider soft marketing like relationship building parties and events. But for longtime Roundtables™ member, Steve Rehder, it was worth every penny. Here’s his story.
When Rehder Construction, Inc., turned 30 this year, company president and CEO Steve Rehder and his staff celebrated the anniversary with a catered party that united long-time clients and trade contractors in toasting the company’s longevity—and garnered the company some leads, too.
Well before the August 27 anniversary date, Rehder’s staff printed invitations and mailed them to all of the company’s past and current clients and key suppliers. “We made sure to invite our subs, too, because some of them have been with us 30 years,” says Rehder.
The party was staged at the company’s office in Campbell, Calif. Rehder secured the building owner’s permission to extend the party into the parking lot, if necessary. Good thing he thought ahead, because twice the number of people who had RSVPed showed up. “We were amazed at the turnout,” Rehder recalls. “We’d hoped for 30 or 40 people—and instead 80 guests attended.”
There was plenty of food for everyone and lots of giveaways and door prizes, too. After guests wrote their contact information in a sign-in book, they were each given a raffle ticket. During the party, Rehder and his staff gave raffle winners coupons for free dinners at a local restaurant, free carwashes, bottles of wine, company shirts, and vouchers for 3 hours of handyman work.
Guests mingled and chatted with each other—and provided testimonials about the company to new clients. “We invited a brand-new client whose kitchen we redid,” says Rehder. “She quizzed people at the event about the company and later told my secretary, ‘Thanks so much for inviting me. This really solidified everything I’ve heard about your company.’ ”
After the party, Rehder wrote personal thank-you notes to each guest and mentioned the company’s referral program. “We got one lead right off the bat,” says the remodeler. “After she received the thank-you letter, a client called me up and said, ‘I have a friend in Palo Alto who wants a second-story addition, too.’ ”
The good will continued after the event. “My staff and I had a blast at the party and the crew enjoyed visiting with the clients,” says Rehder. “It wasn’t originally in our budget to have an anniversary party. I thought, ‘It’s going to cost some money, but it will be worth it.’ And it was.”