Monday, January 28, 2008

Marketing Strategy: New Business from Old Clients

Most products and services don’t simply “take off" because of a brilliant design or great quality control during the manufacturing process. Outstanding sales numbers are – to a large extent – always the result of a great marketing strategy. Our Sales and Marketing services will help you break down every aspect of your marketing plan. After determining your target market, we will help you develop a marketing strategy towards those potential customers who are most likely to become buyers. This way, whether it's a brilliant  product or a much needed service they will be correctly positioned to finally “take off.”

Phones not ringing? Orders down? Customers not walking in the door? It's time to take action. But before you spend a fortune trying to drum up new business; why not get in touch with those people who once loved you -- your former customers. Remember them?

As hard as companies work to solicit and serve customers, I'm always surprised by how little most businesses do to stay in touch with those they once served so well. Many seem to have the attitude that once a job is done; it's done; once a product is sold, it's sold, and the relationship with the customer is over.

That's short-term thinking. Former customers are the best source for future sales, even in businesses where customers make purchases only every few years. After all, satisfied customers talk to others, so they're an important referral source. It costs two to 40 times as much to acquire a customer as it does to keep one. So once you've got one, don't lose them.

Of course, its best if you develop an ongoing customer communication program for example SendOutCards.com. But don't wait for that if you need dollars in the cash register now.

To get started on a contact program:

Make a list. If you're like most of us, you've got contact information all over: stacks of business cards, address lists in word processing files, customer invoices on a different computer altogether. Take a few hours to compile a list. Start with ALL former customers or clients -- go back at least five years. But don't stop there. Add anyone who has been -- or might be -- a source of referrals. This includes industry colleagues, suppliers, friends, even some relatives. Go through your address book, your accounts, those business card stacks, and your email in-box to jog your memory.

Select contact methods. Phone calls are a simple, personal, and effective way to touch base, and it's harder for someone to ignore your phone call than it is an email or a letter. Of course, calling takes time, so you may want to limit that to only your most likely prospects. E-mail can also be effective if you make your email personal rather than seeming like spam. I suspect you may not have current email addresses for many people on your contact list. So don't overlook the mail! Send them a customer appreciation card through the SendOutCards.com service. The key is to be as personal as possible.

Figure out what to say . You don't need a specific reason to contact a former customer. You can tell them the truth, "it's been a while since we've talked, and I'm just touching base. I wanted to see how you've been and if there's anything I can do for you." You'll probably get more sales, however, if you make a specific offer, especially with a significant discount. One caution: if you haven't been in contact with someone for a long time, find out what's going on with them before making a sales pitch; their situation may have changed considerably. With referral sources and other contacts, tell them you're touching base to see how they're doing and to see if they know of anyone who might need your products or services.

Remember, it is said that Appreciation Wins over Self Promotion. So determine how ambitious you want to be and put together a plan that makes sense, is cost effective and allows you genuinely express sincere appreciation to your past customers. After all, they helped you get to where you are today.

We get so caught up serving current accounts that we didn't have the time -- or the need -- to sustain connections with former customers or potential referral sources. Regardless of how well your business is doing, it's time to get back to those fundamentals. Remember, "word of mouth" advertising doesn't just happen; it has to be nurtured. So stay in touch and send them a card or pick up that phone!