I'm not one to give out "business tips" per se, but the fact of the matter is, there are a lot of small businesses out in the world that have forgotten some of the most basic lessons that actually work. In my opinion, not only do they work, but they are the core reason why so many people prefer to do business with smaller companies instead of larger ones.

Think about your last experience at the DMV, or a busy branch of a national bank - were you treated like a person or a number? Point made.

Now, the good news, for those of you who are trending up, is that the reason you were successful in some small town in the Midwest is not the reason that you will be a regional failure or a national meltdown. Technology - the reason that big banks and governments view you as a number, can allow you to keep that "down home" feeling no matter how big your customer list is.

...But first, you have to acknowledge the holes in your net and understand how you can create more money out of old leads. Plenty of what you're about to read can be automated through a variety of mediums, but the important thing is that - even if the reader knows that your message was driven from a CRM - they know that you thought enough of them to reach out. This is not about sending them a constant barrage of pitches, but rather, about genuine contact.

· Say Thank You. When is the last time you got a handwritten, personal card thanking you for business? Most likely, it's been awhile and the receipt of the card was predicated upon some large purchase - a car, a house, etc... What about simply taking the time to reach out to your clients and thank them for their time. Not at Christmas, not after tax season, just a basic thank you? Try it.

· Stay on top of mind. Do you think it's possible to send a newsletter or a social media post that isn't one pitch after another? Nobody likes a pitch fest and a constant stream of calls to action, so what about sending emails or newsletters that actually have some value? Tips, tricks, and valuable content that your clients can actually use? Plus one if you actually send a paper newsletter since it is a true rarity these days.

· Give them something to be loyal about. If they have been with you for a while, then why not remind them of their loyalty? Upgrade them to VIP or provide them with a dedicated account manager - even if that "title" is only to denote that they have been involved with you for a long time, not necessarily because they are your most lucrative account. Again, this is about being top of mind, not just top of checkbook. Remember, Napoléon understood that men will fight and die for a ribbon, not an idea, and by passing out that virtual ribbon, you might just make a larger impact than any discount or coupon you could ever offer.

· Ask them for feedback. The amount of basic surveys that can be easily brought to bear on your database is astounding and - when we remember that your customers are already doing it on platforms like Angie's List or Yelp! - then you have to ask yourself, "why aren't we?" Taken to the next level, the technology today also can allow you to intercept a 'bad' review before it hits the internet and takes on a life of its own.

As simple as it is, one of the key things that customers today want is to not feel like a number. Social media has inadvertently taught us (or reminded us) that everyone has a voice or an opinion worth sharing and, in so doing, has given the masses a bully pulpit from which to preach. Take the time, as an entrepreneur, to remember how you can engage your customers and leads - no matter how old those leads are - and remind them that they matter to you. The results? Well, try them and see for yourself!

Published on: Oct 10, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.