Which customer is more valuable to a business: the one who makes a large one-time purchase and never returns, or the one who makes a series of small purchases over many months (and tells their peers about the business in the process)?
The answer is, of course, the second customer. Although we often spend the bulk of our marketing dollars attracting new clients, it’s our long-term relationships with customer businesses that truly pay dividends. By nurturing current and past accounts, it’s often possible to generate more new clients through word-of-mouth than traditional ‘cold calling’ marketing would even allow.
Fostering your ongoing relationship with clients and customers should be a top priority for your business, both in marketing outreach and day-to-day operations. To embrace this philosophy and launch a re-engagement campaign with past and existing customers, start by implementing these simple ideas:
Create a Culture of ‘Thank You’
Your interaction with a client or customer should not end with an invoice and payment. Soon after completing a project or transaction, make a point to follow-up with a handwritten thank you note or a call. Ensure that your customer was satisfied with your services and product and ask how you can adapt to suit their needs in the future.
Stay in Touch
Storing and maintaining easy access to client contact information is paramount to a re-engagement campaign. If your company doesn’t already have one, create a contact list spreadsheet that differentiates between levels and types of customers. Specialize your outreach to these contacts through emails, phone calls, newsletters and social media. Once a week may be too much, while once a month might not be enough. It’s important to convey special deals and new services to customers that might be interested in taking advantage of them, but there’s a careful balance between sending out relevant outreach and being regarded as spam.
Generate Quality Content
A monthly e-newsletter can be a strong tool, both for reminding past clients about your company and alerting them to new specials. It’s easy, however, to turn this outreach into pure marketing fodder. Take the time to write useful content that underscores your company’s expertise in its field. The same rules apply on your blog. Each post does not need to push a product or service you provide. Instead, generate trust and a strong reputation by providing real tips and advice that don’t necessarily pitch your company.
Programs that offer free or discounted services and products for new customer referrals are one of the most effective ways to build your company. Of course, you want your clients to do this naturally, and their recommendation can’t come off to peers like a pyramid scheme. Depending on the size and nature of your company, referral discounts can often be passed along during the ‘thank you’ or invoice phase, without the deal needing to be splashed across the front page of your website.
One effective idea is to offer the discount to both the referring and the new customer, allowing the fresh client to feel appreciated; they won’t feel like their other business friend or acquaintance is getting a deal at their expense while they pay full price.
Remember Holidays and Anniversaries
The expense required to send out small gifts to past clients is generally far less than the return that these generate. At the holidays or on your company’s birthday, send out gift baskets or a useful tool like a USB flash drive with your company logo on it. When people receive something they can actually use, they will be grateful and perhaps feel a slight obligation. At the very least, they’ll be more likely to choose you over a competitor when they next need your services.
It’s also not a bad idea to maintain a calendar that marks when a client’s last project was completed. If it has been six months (or a year) since you’ve heard from a previous customer, consider calling them up in-person to check in, say hello and let them know you’re available if they ever need your company’s services again.
Customer loyalty boils down to quality. If you provide a great service or product, clients will remember and recommend you. In between, it never hurts to give them gentle reminders of what a pleasure you are to work with.
About the Author
Christopher Wallace is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of personalized pens and other promotional products such as imprinted apparel, mugs and customized calendars. He regularly contributes to Promo & Marketing Wall blog.