Quiz question: What is the most valuable asset of your business?
Like most business people, you may take a quick mental survey of your balance sheet. Is it your property? Your accounts receivable? Your equipment?
You won’t find the answer on your balance sheet. Your most important business asset, likely, is your customer list. It is more expensive to find a new customer than to service a current or past customer. It is more difficult to get a new customer than to take care of your current ones.
Companies spend the majority of their time and marketing resources prospecting new customers, meanwhile ignoring the dollars sitting in their current customer bank accounts.
Build a wall of service around your customer base
You have already earned your current customers trust. And with each additional transaction, that trust builds. Did you know it costs 5 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain a current one?
One of the most important things I encourage with my clients is to make a plan to maintain contact with your current customers. This serves three very important purposes.
First, it keeps you on the shopping list. If they are not ready to buy, you have top-of-mind awareness. Second, you are asking them to buy more from you. Remember, they are already your customers. You have that trust bond already established. Finally, it allows you to ask for referrals. This is huge. It takes commitment to make and follow this contact plan. And I am going to show you three ways to do it. You should plan to incorporate all three methods over the course of your business year to maintain your contact with current customers.
Compiling your customer list
About 50% of the business owners I talk to do not have an organized system to maintain a customer list. Most POS systems have this built-in, but I’m surprised at how many businesses use it.
At the very least, you need to compile your customer list in an excel spreadsheet by name, address, phone number, and email. You should also add categories for the amount of dollars they spent with you, by transaction and by date.This list is a basis for your three-pronged customer contact maintenance plan.
Contact Method #1: Direct Mail Postcards
Direct mail postcards are a vital part of keeping in touch with your current customers. Keep them up-to-date on current promotional offers with one of the most cost-efficient manners available. Postage costs less than a letter. Bulk mailing permits are easily available. And with technology advances, laser inscribed addresses make the entire process turn-key.
Postcard direct mail uses? Your business should be mailing thank you’s to first-time customers. How about We miss you to lapsed customers? Quarterly sales promotions? Special customer appreciation events?
25-8 Marketing Inc. has introduced a new postcard marketing program. With low minimums, no set-up charges, low in-the-mail prices, and fast 48-hour service, please visit this link for prices and details.
Contact Method #2: Email
Why is email a great way to contact your current customer base? It’s inexpensive; there are no postage costs or printing costs. It’s fast; you can send out a sales message to a group of customers quicker than direct mail. It’s accountable; you are able to see how many customers read your message.
Leveraging information gathered from previous interactions, a company can personalize the customer experience to up-sell and cross-sell customers and generate additional revenue.
I recommend you look at Constant Contact, (click on the link for a 60-day free trial) or a similar email contact management system.
Contact Method #3: Newsletters
Do you want to be a sustaining resource to your clients? Newsletters from your company are a great way to do that. Newsletters put your company’s name and current news in front of your customers, reminding them that you are still active and eager to do business with them again.
Many of us are already overwhelmed by the daily deluge of mail, so your newsletter will need to be much more than just ads for your products or services. Including informative articles or other information may help entice your customers to actually open and read your newsletter.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and try to determine what kinds of information would prove valuable to them. If your company sells collectibles, for instance, a survey of trends in the market would be a great way to get your customers to look forward to each issue of your newsletter.
Newsletters can be quarterly, or seasonal. One hint: Ask for referrals in each newsletter from your current customers. And reward them for each referral.
NEXT: Part III…Your website…using it to attract and retain customers.
Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency that plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. He is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.