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As salespeople and business owners, we’ve often been trained to communicate value. After all, if we don’t connect what we sell, produce and provide with the needs of our prospects and customers and do it in a way that helps them understand the return they should expect on their investment, we’re sunk!

But in times like these, it’s more important than ever that we communicate valuably!

What does it mean to communicate valuably? It means that the value is in the message. When you reach out to the people you’re in touch with — whether they are existing customers, suspects, prospects, or even the general public — make sure that what you’re communicating to them is valuable… to them!

Here are 5 ways to communicate valuably:

  1. Find out what they need.  This can be time-consuming and demanding. But it pays off. When you are in touch with the needs of people, you can be best positioned to make yourself and your communications valuable to them.
  2. Put a strategy in place to reach out regularly. We get annoyed when communicated with too frequently, this is true. But if your messages are concise and valuable to the people you’re reaching out to, then they will anticipate and even look forward to your messages. Whether this is done via e-mail, on the web, via voicemail, text message, Twitter, snail mail, or in person, having something valuable to say and doing it consistently helps build relationship, trust, and a desire to reciprocate.
  3. Budget for it!  Treat this like an advertising expenditure: devote time, resources, and — yes, even money — to it. Put a staff member on it (multiple staff members, if you can). If you’re a salesperson or a smaller company, then carve time out of your schedule on a regular basis to make sure you’re reaching out. The more you do this, the more efficient you’ll become at it. Learning how to use tools such as WordPress, RSS feeds, e-mail service providers, and even Social Media can have an astounding impact on your ability to reach out to more people in highly-targeted ways for very little cost. Many businesses are now wisely diverting money from traditional advertising methods to see to it that they are communicating effectively and regularly with audiences that are likely to produce new business.
  4. Create feedback mechanisms. Hopefully it goes without saying that your communications should be highly measurable. Understand whether you’re reaching your target, whether they care enough to open/read/listen to/etc your communications. But, in this day and age, we’re without excuse if we aren’t going beyond measuring and tracking and into really listening.  Give the people to whom you’re reaching simple mechanisms to respond and let you know what they find useful, what they dislike, and what they want more of.
  5. Reward those who participate in the dialogue. Amazingly, some businesses still don’t understand that if people care enough to provide feedback, it should be rewarded. Even if the feedback is negative and not presented in a constructive fashion, the point is that they cared enough to respond! Sometimes you may wonder why they cared enough. Find out! And by the way, the reward for participation should at the very least be an acknowledgment or a response. But you can easily go above and beyond… and you don’t always have to provide discounts, coupons, or the obvious financial incentives. Here are some ideas from Starbucks about creating rewards.

Do you have an intentional, strategic process in place to communicate valuably? If not, get busy! The marketplace rewards value. Make sure you’re delivering so they know who to reward!