July 14, 2011
Being a marketing consultant I'm always being asked for the best way to market a business. People are looking for the latest marketing strategies and techniques to find them their next sales. They talk to me about the need to get on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and want to know how to optimise their website.
But there is another way.
How to do business with current and past customers
These are all tried and tested marketing tools but, in a sense, the people that ask me about them miss the point entirely. It doesn't matter how big or small a business you run there is a good chance that 80% of the business you do in the next month will come from current or previous customers.
The problem is when I ask businesses to tell me the names of their ten best customers they often can't.
Even worse if I ask them when they last contacted one of their best customers they go all vague.
The reality is you need to keep in contact with current and past customers. They know you and your business and are more likely to do business with you than someone that doesn't know you. The problem is they often only know about the product or service they bought last time and haven't a clue what else you do … so will never ask for it.
Educate your customers
You have to educate your customers. You need to let them know how you can help them, what you do, what you sell and what benefits this offers. I don't mean going into sales mode. I mean building a relationship with them and helping them in some way.
For example I'm giving you free marketing advice. I know the majority of readers are ready to buy yet so you might argue it is a waste of time doing this. The reality is that when they are ready to buy they will think of me first; particularly if I've provided them with free advice recently.
Of course in my case I take this ethos further and provide free advice to current and past customers … and to those that are yet to contract with me; but it would be short sighted to restrict advice and exclude prospects as well.
Questions to ask about your current and past customers
So the questions you need to ask yourself are: –
Who are my best customers?
When did I last contact them?
If I were to contact them today, what could I say to them, send them or offer them that wasn't a sale pitch? (Sometimes just sending a newspaper cutting or link to a website can be all it takes to build a relationship – sometimes all it takes is to phone and ask for some feedback on a product they bought .. but don't use it to sell another at this stage.. , sometimes just phone and ask for advice on something they can help you with.)
How am I going to contact them? The answer might be via email, phone, letter (letters work surprisingly well in the Google Age), or even in person at an event
Then all you need to do is to make contact and build the relationships.
Building Customer Momentum
Contact just one customer a day and you will see a repeat business start to trickle through quite quickly. After a while the trickle becomes a flood … and all without marketing to new customers.