Updated: Mar 28, 2021
You have been in business for a few years. You’re ready for growth. And you have a good foundation of business from a solid base of customers. So what is your marketing plan for customer growth? How do you look to the future? Before looking to the future, you have to look back to the past.
Your first step in growing your customer base is to make sure you have a retention plan for your current customers. It starts with understanding why your customers are doing business with, do more of that and evolve as they do. I know that sounds simple but as we move forward, it’s easy to get distracted by the daily fires that pop up, looking ahead to plan for the future, or the many other things that could cause it to easily forget our current customer base. It is also easy to just let them go on cruise control and not give them attention. They can be taken for granted. This is when the door opens for your competition to start stealing them away. It’s good reminder that your current customers are someone else’s prospects and are treating them better than you are.
AT&T built an empire starting with telegraphs, then hard-wired landlines and then became one of the leaders in the wireless world. They were able to grow because they kept their customer base and delivered the value their customers wanted as the customers desires evolved. They didn’t try to be #1 in the telegraph business as their customers moved on to buying IPhones. You too are more likely to retain a customer if you are delivering a specific value that they are looking for and as their needs change. You have to inspect the value you are delivering and make sure it’s still what your customers want.
That leads us to our next point, do you know what you customers want today AND tomorrow? You need to know. So let’s take a few minutes and go over a few key tactics or actions you can do to help with retaining a customer base.
Customer Surveys: Ask your core how you are doing and what they want in the future. Be careful, they might just tell you what they want. Use your email database and send a simple 3-5 question survey on why they like working with you. Open lines of communication are key. The way you communicate with your clients or customer will vary but needs to be done.
Social Media: This topic could go on to be its own blog (spoiler alert… it will be) but we will keep it short for this read. Social Media is one of the best ways to see what your clients want without investing a ton of money. Your strategy with it needs to go beyond posts about your business, trying to sell a new service or product, or daily generic posts. You should use it to follow your best customers and engage with them when it’s appropriate. Use it to ask questions about what they like and don’t like in miniature surveys. It is usually not a good idea to hard-sell in social media. But Social Media is a great source of information for other sales channels.
Multiple Offers for your Customers: A single product customer is a commodity buyer, more transactional and less likely to be around in the future. When you have customers that buy multiple products or services from you, you are 5x more likely to retain those customers. Using AT&T again, can you buy more than one product from them? Absolutely. Just walk into one of their stores. You can sign up for wireless service, they are retailer for multiple brands of phones, they sell phone accessories (at a premium), they offer tablets, wireless speakers, and more. But they didn’t stop there. AT&T now offers cable and satellite service. They are an internet service provider. Plus, they offer a plethora of business services for companies around the world. How many products or service lines do you have? Do your customers know about all of them?
Have a Plan: Knowing what you’re going to do and then doing is key. Spend some time developing a customer retention plan. It can be as simple as 3 or 4 things you do religiously to reach out, to communicate with and to incentivize your current customers. Or it can be as complicated as 5 year plan to go from A – Z and back. The key is to have a plan, that you will keep, and work it.
Stay Competitive: You don’t have to be the cheapest but you do have to stay competitive. Staying competitive means that your customers believe that the service or products you provide are worth their investments, it's not always about price. Let’s use Netflix for this example. They have retained their earliest customers that used them as a DVD rental service paying $4.99 per month and now have become the leading streaming service now charging $17.99 per month to many of those same customers. They can do this because it’s competitive and their customers still see value in what they do.
Let’s summarize these.
· Communicate with your customers to keep them engaged.
· Use Social Media to learn what your clients or customers like or don’t like.
· Have multiple offers for your customer base. The more products or services you sell them the “stickier” they are to your business.
· Develop a plan and work it.
· Stay competitive by providing value. Value perceived is seldom about price.
Customer retention is a must in anyone's marketing strategy...but it is often overlooked. So remember in order to grow, take a moment to make sure that your current customers are engaged, see value in what you do, and will stick with you. Once you do, the road ahead of you is a lot safer.
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