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How To Retain Your Customers

When people think of marketing, they invariably think of generating new customers and while all businesses need new customers, it makes much more sense in the first instance to know how to retain your customers.


You may know that it costs 5 times as much to generate a new customer as to retain your customers so once you have a customer you should hold onto them for dear life.

The problem is that too many businesses take their existing customers for granted. They’ve done the hard work and won them as a customer – job done. They now milk them for as long as possible while moving their focus onto the next new opportunity.

I received a piece of direct mail the other week from a furniture retailer and on the outside of the envelope it said “10% off your first order*” and underneath it said * Applies to new customers only.

It actually made me laugh.

How can a business be so crass.

How would you feel as an existing customer especially if there was something I wanted to buy but knew that new customers could buy it 10% cheaper?

I assume the mailing didn’t go to existing customers, but judging by how stupid the marketing was, I wouldn’t be totally confident that it didn’t.

Reward loyalty

Instead of penalising existing customers, savvy businesses will reward them. This can take different forms.

  1. Identify what customers have bought and give them a discount off related items.
  2. Offer them a benefit on an upgrade on their normal purchase
  3. Launch a loyalty scheme
    The standard format is to offer points for purchasing that provide discounts off future purchases. Not only does this tie customers in to your business and make them feel good but it can also provide you with valuable purchasing data. The ultimate example of this is Tesco, who via their Club Card have massive amounts of data about their customer’s purchasing habits which they’ve exploited ruthlessly over the years.

Listen to your customers

Customer service is one of the key differentiators which keeps customers coming back to your business.

If you want to know what customers are looking for, the best way to find out is to ask them and the best way to ask them is via a survey.

These days companies like Survey Monkey make it dead easy to send out surveys.

The key thing is to act on the survey information you get back. Sometimes you may not like what you hear, but if that is what your customers are saying, you ignore them at your peril.

The other point is that surveys can show you issues that specific customers are unhappy with. This gives you the opportunity to deal with the issue immediately and head off the problem before the customer votes with their feet. Write to them or even better phone them up and take action to give them what they want.

Keep in contact

Over 80% of customers who change suppliers do so not because something terrible has happened but because they don’t feel loved.

One way to make them feel loved is by staying in regular touch and adding value by providing useful information, special offers, product updates etc.

One of the best ways to do this is via a newsletter and ideally a printed newsletter.

Now while that may sound a bit old school to you, I only recommend it because it works.

Newsletters have to be filled with interesting information, have plenty of pictures, not be entirely focused on selling the company and even have a few jokes and competitions. In short they need to be visually attractive and easy to read.

Keeping in contact via newsletters, emails etc tells your customers that you’re interested in them and you’re keen to maintain close relationships with them.

If you take these points on board, your customer retention should be very good, which will mean your business will be able to grow instead of struggling to stand still.

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Dramatically Improve Your Customer Relationships

Like all business owners you want to dramatically improve your customer relationships.

Now we all know that people do business with people they know, like and trust.

We want to forge strong bonds that keep our customers coming back for more so that when our competitors whisper in our clients’ ears, they don’t listen because they’re so happy with the relationship they have with us.

One way to do this is to add some “Magic Moments” into your relationship.

So what is a “Magic Moment”

Magic moments are when you do small, unexpected and fun things out of the blue to surprise your clients.

These don’t need to be large or expensive.

They can be small, almost trivial things but they demonstrate an amount of thought and care for your customers.

It could be as small as sending a birthday card on the appropriate day, enclosing a box of chocolates with an order or taking your customer out to lunch.

No substitute for good service

Now we mustn’t confuse Magic Moments and your basic levels of service. Magic Moments will not cover up for poor service.

But the thing is that your customers take good service as a given and while fundamental, service is unlikely to light people up and make them smile in the way a Magic Moment will.

For literally a few pence you can see results out of all proportion to the cost and effort involved.  By surprising people and giving them that little lift your business can reap real benefits:

  • Increased customer loyalty
  • Higher levels of repeat orders
  • Larger numbers of referrals
  • Glowing testimonials

The problem with Magic Moments

While all business owners would like the benefits of Magic Moments there are a couple of problems.

  1. Finding the right Magic Moment for your customer. Whatever you do for your Magic Moment is has got to be relevant to the customer. Do the wrong thing and all your effort will be wasted.
  2. Spending the time – while the idea is great you will have to commit an amount of time to thinking what to do and then actually doing it.
  3. What to do. This is probably the biggest issue. We all want to create “Magic Moments” but having the ideas to create the magic isn’t easy.

So here are a few ideas:

  • Thank you letters or cards – after you’ve done a piece of work or delivered an order, hand write a card or letter, not an email, to say thank you. How often do you received a hand written letter these days?
  • Easter chocolates – around Easter send a small packet of Easter eggs with an order or just send an egg to the relevant people in the business.
  • Ice creams – if you visit your client’s offices, in the summer take an ice cream for the people in the office
  • Birthday cards – if you can find out the birthdays of the key people within the business, sending a birthday card elevates the relationship from entirely business to personal.
  • Car wash – I heard about a company that invited their clients to their offices for a presentation and washed and valeted their cars during the presentation.

The thing about all these Magic Moments is that they are unexpected and fun and will differentiate you massively from other companies.

While the cost of you will be small the impact on your customer relationships will be huge.


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The Importance Of Winning New Customers

What’s the most important thing you’ve got to do in your business today?

Depending on what business you’re in, it could be any one of a million things:

But I believe that there’s something which is actually more important than all those things and that is the winning of new customers and then retaining them.

Without customers you have no business. It’s as simple as that.

Customers are the one thing no business can survive without.

There are plenty of things that are nice to have:

  • A fancy logo
  • Swish offices
  • A cool business card
  • A new delivery van

Nice maybe but your business will survive without them. Without customers your business will very quickly go out of business.

The second part of my statement about retaining customers is every bit as important. Most businesses rely on on-going business or repeat business. If you have to continuously reinvent your customer base, your business is going to be very hard work indeed.

Hopefully when expressed in those terms, you’ll see why I think winning new customers and retaining them is so important.

So if that’s the case what did you do to win and retain customers yesterday?

And what are you going to do about it today or tomorrow because if it’s the single most important thing, surely you ought to be doing something about it every day?

Now if you’re going to win new customers you are going to have to be getting your key messages out to your carefully targeted prospects.

In other words you’re going to have to be active in marketing because marketing is the process by which you:

  • Communicate the right messages
  • To the right people
  • In the right way

As you can see the principal of marketing is very simple but have you ever gone through this process to make sure you’re doing it right?

The Right Messages

Have you worked out what you need to say to prospects for them to decide to trade with you?

  • What benefits do you deliver to them?
  • What problems in their lives do you solve?
  • Why should they choose you – how are you different from everyone else in your industry?
  • What guarantees do you offer, which will remove any risk prospective customers might perceive?
  • How can prospects test drive your product or service to check it’s right for them?

The Right People

Do you know exactly who your prospective customers are? Once you’ve identified the profile of your prospects you can tailor your messages precisely to their needs. If you don’t know exactly who they are, you can’t tell them what problems in their lives you can solve.

The Right Way

The final piece of the jigsaw is the communication.

You must make sure you are using the correct channels to suit your prospects. If your audience is business owners roughly between the ages of 30 – 60, the chances are that most of them aren’t spending much of their working day on social media. If so then focusing on Facebook and Twitter is unlikely to bring you much new business.

However if your audience is 18 – 20 year olds, then Facebook may be the only channel you need.

The point I’m making is that you must identify the channels relevant to your prospects. Select the wrong ones and you’ll shoot your marketing efforts in the foot.

So if you’re going to address the most important thing in your business – namely the winning and retention of new customers, you’re going to have to get to grips with these issues.

Now if I’ve persuaded you how important this is, but you’re not sure where to start, I could help you so get in touch.

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Are You Committing This Hideous Sin?

When most people think about growing their business, they immediately think about how they can acquire new customers.

Now of course new customers are vital to the long term health of your business but in fact the real money lies in your existing customers.

Focusing too much on winning new customers is a huge mistake.

You see while the un-rich believe the most important marketing is in attracting new customers, the exceptionally successful and rich business owner realises marketing to and nurturing their  existing customers  is paramount.

So why is this so important?

  1. It’s becoming more and more expensive to acquire new customers.
    It used to be that when acquiring a new customer, you could make a profit or at least break even. It’s estimated that winning a new customer costs five times as much as keeping an existing one.  Plus the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5-20%.
  2. The majority of customers leave businesses because of neglect.
    There are lots of reasons that we all lose customers and sometimes we screw up and genuinely deserve to lose a customer.
    But the biggest reason for customers leaving is that they feel unappreciated, unimportant, or taken for granted. Something over 70% of customers leave their existing supplier for this reason. If you feel that your existing supplier isn’t concerned about you, when someone else whispers in your ear and offers you a better deal, you have no qualms about moving your business elsewhere.

It stands to reason that if you strategically engineer your business to retain, nurture and grow the value of your existing customers, you will grow your business and your profits.

How do you do this?

Make your customer feel important and valued

Find ways to express your gratitude by acknowledging them and thanking them in your newsletters, by creating a reward program and making special offers specifically for existing customers.. Also, treat them as the valued and valuable commodity they are. Invest time in them and make them feel that their business is important to you.

View retention as a marketing function and a profit center

Don’t think of money spent on existing customers as an expense. Instead view it as an investment.

Have a lost customer plan in place. 

Track your customer’s activity. When one goes missing, send that customer a letter with a great offer or pick up the phone to find out what’s going on. You need to be persistent. Losing customers will be very damaging to your business.

Develop new products and services for your existing customers. 

Your existing customers may have moved beyond your initial offering. Work hard to do more business with them by coming up with new offerings that will appeal to their wants, needs and desires.

Your existing customers are your most important asset. If you want to grow your business and profits, neglecting them is one marketing sin you don’t want to commit.