Jan 15 2016
For those businesses that send out invoices, I think it’s time to rethink the opportunity we have here. Invoices are always seen as a perfunctory kind of document, sent with the hope of fast payment in most cases. But I think they are much more.
I see invoices as a great opportunity to build relationships, educate clients, sell your services and generate more money.
Who reads invoices? Well of course it depends on the size of the business you are sending it to. If it is a small business, generally it will go to the business owner, the decision-maker and the person you want to influence the most.
For a mid size company, it may go to the accounts department, but generally a manager of some size will need to approve it — and once again we get to influence someone in a positive way.
For a larger company, their systems and resources generally mean that they have a bigger finance department, so your resources might make it to a manager, unless it’s big enough, but someone of authority within the company still has to approve it for payment.
So in short, it is very likely that our invoice will be seen by a number of people, many of whom we want to influence in some way. How do we go about making an invoice more effective as a marketing and relationship building tool?
Here are 10 ideas that you might like to give a go:
• If you do anything for free, put it on your invoice and make a point of highlighting “NO COST”. Don’t assume your client knows or remembers what you do for free.
• Introduce a new staff member with every invoice. Make it fun, make it personal, and let people see inside your business. Always include a photo to give it that personal touch.
• Put a customer testimonial on your invoices. Reinforce the fact that the customer you are sending this invoice to has made a great decision.
• If you support a charity, put it on your invoice. Explain why you support that particular charity, what you do to support them and be proud of your contribution.
• Won an award lately? Don’t be shy — let everyone know, but if it has been a while since you won the award, let it go. People will question why you haven’t won anything since.
• Make a commitment statement — what you promise to deliver to your customers. This might be in terms of attitude, collaboration, help, support etc. For example: “Our mission is to make your company a market leader by using our products.”
• Educate your customers by telling them about new products and services.
• Have some fun by sharing some of the most commonly asked questions that are little out of the ordinary (or downright weird).
• Let your customers know that you value and appreciate their business. You also realize that they have a choice and they chose you — make this a humble and sincere thank you.
• Tell a joke — put a smile on the face of whoever reads your invoice — and make them look forward to the next one (but be smart about it, no sexists, racists or political jokes–unless they are about Donald Trump).
By making your invoice a little more memorable you might even find that you get paid more quickly and I’ve never come across a business owner who complains about that.
Andrew Griffiths is a bestselling author, entrepreneur and presenter who teaches big business how to talk to small business, small business how to think big, and individuals to build the business they have spent their life dreaming about; www.andrewgriffiths.com. This article was first published on Inc.com.