Why focusing on existing customers is smart business

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Picking up new business takes time and investment. Yet many business owners make it their focus, sometimes at the expense of servicing their existing customer base.

As we head into 2021 and reflect on the year that has been, many of us will no doubt be thankful for the support of our long-term customers. For a lot of Bay of Plenty businesses, it’s repeat business that has got them through.

So why not make them your focus in the New Year? Not only is it the right thing to do, but you will often get a better return on investment when pitching to people who already know your products and the great service you provide.

Here are a few ideas to keep your customers engaged and to help ensure you stay at the forefront of their minds.

Send a token of appreciation

Sure, it’s old school, but a personal message and a token of appreciation still go a long way. Your may have forgotten to send a Christmas card and gift, but that doesn’t mean you’ve missed the chance to say thanks. In fact, a token of appreciation that falls outside of a traditional “gift-giving window” can feel more genuine. Why not launch the New Year by reaching out to clients and showing you care?

Get active on social media

Social media can be a useful way to keep your regular customers in the loop. It can be an avenue for informal updates, an opportunity to reward existing customers, or a chance to provide customers with critical information.

Existing customers are your most important audience on social media as they are the ones that often turn into your biggest champions, telling the world what you can offer.

Don’t forget to respond to their comments and engage in a way that is personable, in line with your brand, and won’t come across as robotic.

New Zealand takeaway chain BurgerFuel does it well, and now has an audience of more than 300,000 followers. They have created a social media identity that people connect with, coupled with regular competitions and special offers.

Keep in touch using e-newsletters

Email newsletters are far from dead. They still result in a better return on investment than many other marketing channels. But people are facing an ever-increasing barrage of email marketing campaigns, so it’s critical yours stands out from the crowd.

Your main consideration should always be what matters to the reader – if you add value through articles they care about and special offers they will benefit from, your audience will grow and people will keep reading every time you click send.

Don’t leave customers out of special deals

Sales and special deals can be a good way to move stock, or to launch a new product. But how often do you see deals that are only available to new customers? It might be a month free on a Sky TV package for new sign-ups, or 10 percent off a cut and colour at a local hairdresser for new customers only. Too often these kinds of deals leave existing customers feeling undervalued.

It might not result in immediate revenue, but I guarantee that if you provide some unexpected sales and benefits to existing customers, your chance of retaining them long-term will drastically increase.

Keep in mind that if something hasn’t been selling it won’t suddenly move just because you put it on sale – you still need to couple your discount with a strong message that communicates why people should care about the product or service you’re offering.

Make follow-up calls

As a customer, it can sometimes feel like businesses are trying to take your money and run. That first sale or business transaction sometimes feels like a one-night stand, rather than the start of a beautiful relationship.

Make sure to send emails and make follow-up calls to check people are happy. Listen to their feedback. It can be a great way to build a relationship, and it can also help you discover things about your business that you may not have noticed from the inside.

Is there anything you have found has worked particularly well to keep existing customers engaged?

If so, I’d love to hear it – drop me an email at james@lastwordmedia.co.nz

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James Heffield
James Heffield
Director of Bay of Plenty marketing and public relations consultancy Last Word. To find out more visit www.lastwordmedia.co.nz or email james@lastwordmedia.co.nz.

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