This past week I was engaged in another one of those conversations relating to where to emphasize our marketing efforts, on acquiring new customers or retaining old customers. Of course, new customers are very important to any business, and we all should have in place procedures to obtain new customers for our businesses. However, more businesses are placing emphasis on retaining current customers for very simple reasons. We have previously discussed some of these reasons before.
You have spent time, money, and effort on acquiring the current customers that you have. Shouldn’t you place emphasis on retaining those customers so that those efforts and money are not wasted after the initial sale? You should work to retain their business, and you should exert efforts to keep those customers satisfied so that they refer others to your business. A good portion of your marketing budget should be directed on retaining the customers that you already have.
Your current customers should be a source of referrals for your business. If they are happy and believe that you provide a quality product or service for an appropriate price, they will provide a free advertisement for your business to their friends, neighbors, family, and networking partners. They should be encouraged to provide referrals to you and should be rewarded for doing so. After all, those referrals put money into your pocket; reward those referral sources with a thank you and possibility a gift of some sort.
These referrals rewards don’t have to be major in scope or cost; after all, for some people the simple thank you card or letter will do just fine. However, the person who consistently provides quality, guaranteed referrals should be rewarded with something that reflects the extent of their support. Their actions have enhanced your business bottom line, and you should be willing to show them how you feel about them and their impact on your business.
Your customers can provide something other than referrals. They can tell you how you are performing, what changes you need to make to grow your business or your offerings, and what you should keep doing or not. They know what you do and how you do it. They are your private focus group; utilize them and their knowledge with questionnaires, surveys, and other means to gain their input. Then, thank them for their information and show your appreciation for their responses. This information may be as valuable as a referral; it may save you time, money, or even an employee, much less customers.
Your customers are a very valuable asset for your business. Don’t forget the ones that may buy once from you and never buy again. Find out why and then treat them as you would a valuable repeat customer. Maybe they just don’t need what you have again. (Perhaps your product just doesn’t need replacing.) Maybe they don’t have whatever they had that needed your product or service, or maybe their lifestyle changed. Remember that they can still be referral sources and that they can offer recommendations about your operation just like current customers.