Suddenly Marketing

Brand Messaging | Content Strategy | Writing

Don’t let your most important marketing asset walk out the door

It doesn’t matter how big or small your company is. It doesn’t matter if you’re B2B or B2C or B2monkeys. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling widgets or whatsits or high-end consulting-on-a-stick. Each business has the same single, most valuable asset and many of them squander it on a daily basis. I blame marketing.

You see most marketing has a pretty big blind spot when it comes to existing customers. Most marketing is all jacked up about getting leads and landing the next customer. Most marketing is kind of a jerk when it comes to loyalty and longevity. It behaves more like a sleazy operator who is only out for a one-night stand. This type of marketing is deeply immersed in the “hunter mindset” – you know – the one that’s all about “targeting” and “capturing.”  (…or, putting notches in the headboard. Eww.)

Where’s the sense in that?

Why go to all the effort of “capturing” new business if you’re just going to dump it the next day for the hot, new thing that walked through the door? How about instead of leaving your customers for dead, you took the time to nurture your relationship? Tell me, what are you doing to keep the romance alive?

Too many brands respond to that question with a blank stare. Mistake.

That’s how affairs start. Take your customers for granted and their hearts will start to wander. They might suddenly look up and realize that the grass looks a lot greener on some other brand’s front lawn. That spells trouble for you on multiple fronts. Not only do you potentially face being dumped, you are losing out on your easiest and most profitable sales opportunities. It’s a well-known fact that it’s less expensive to sell to an existing customer than to land a new one. Lose a customer and you’re literally losing profits right off the bottom line.

So – what should you do?

To keep your customers deeply in love with you, you have to continue to woo them long after you’ve initially won their business. Make them feel special. Show them you care (talk is cheap, people). Listen to them and pay attention. Skip the flowery whispered nothings and deliver the real goods. Be there when they need you. Keep your promises. Fess up when you screw up and – for the gods’ sakes – say you’re sorry.

Still not sure where to start? Here’s a quick brainstorm of ideas for small (and big) ways you can show your customers you still think they are all that and a side of fries:

Exclusive products/services/access

  • Create and deliver a stellar customers-only newsletter with insider tips, tricks, specials, and events
  • Offer customer-only access to in-house experts via webinars, forums, or live Q&A calls
  • Publish content that’s designed to serve the needs of customers (instead of to sell prospects)

Ask them what they are thinking (and listen when they tell you)

  • Run routine satisfaction polls
  • Have a prominent feedback form or “idea box” on your site – actually read (and respond to) submissions
  • Do bi-annual customer survey that lets them get really in-depth with feedback
  • Deputize key customers to help you make your products and services better – invite them to participate in internal conversations, give them a seat at the table

Say thank you

  • Don’t take any customer loyalty for granted – show your appreciation all the time
  • Offer special deals – give stuff away
  • Surprise them – delight them – give them something to talk about
  • Remember the power of the “just because” gift … no strings attached

 

In short, be real and treat your customers the way you’d like to be treated.

Your customers truly are your most valuable asset and they deserve your deep appreciation and undying loyalty. Deliver that and you’ll have a customer for life and an evangelist for your brand.  It doesn’t get better than that.

 

What are you doing today to make your customers feel loved? What can you do tomorrow?  

Image Credit: C & More

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8 Comments

  1. Laura

    Such a pertinent, important point to make, and so true!
    It makes me feel good that I’ve already learned many of these lessons in my prior business as a remodeler. I performed routine customer satisfacton polls and scheduled a check at 3, 6 and 12 months after finishing projects. Countless times, these check-ins led to procuring an additional contract for other work they needed done. Sometimes I’d email them with “insider info” – for example, if someone needed a deck built and I noted a big discount sale on materials at a local supplier, I’d let them know, giving them a rough estimate of how much they would save if they planned ahead (even telling them that if they couldn’t afford the labor, they could buy and store the materials for a few months). They always appreciated that.
    Appreciation is key, and saying thank you to a client in a small way can reap big benefits. I made mental notes about certain things I observed about a client – a special something they liked collecting, or what they were interested in on a personal level. Remembering what’s important to other people is integral to building a relationship. It tells another person you CARE about them, which many consider emotional fluff when doing business, but in the long run, having a sincere interest in your clients builds business. It doesn’t have to be complicated either. One of the best things I ever did for my clients was give them a small before-and-after photo album of their projects. They loved it!
    I ran a remodeling business for nearly 12 years. I had ZERO startup money and within one year was booked out three months in advance. Until the economy depressed the real estate market, my business ran on strictly on word of mouth referrals. Spent not one red cent on advertising and many years my business was booked out five months in advance.
    It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have…all those points you wrote about are what will bring success – and, they’ll probably bring a few new friends into your life as well. You can’t beat that following the simple rules in this terrific post.

    • Jamie Lee

      Thanks, Laura. It sounds like you’ve got customer relations down to a heartfelt art. But, that doesn’t surprise me. You are such a thoughtful person. :)

      I love the anecdotal proof about the return on the investment of your kindness. Being booked 3 – 5 months out is a fabulous thing in any economy. And the way you looked out for your customers even when they weren’t actively engaged on a project is a telltale sign of someone who really “gets” relationship building. Letting them know about sales and such shows them that they are always on your mind. So important.

      Thanks for sharing your stories & success. I’m sorry the bottom fell out on the real estate market, but I know that the remodeling industry’s loss will be literature’s gain. 😉

  2. Jamie, I recently read anther post about this at Jason Konopinski’s site http://www.jasonkonopinski.com/2012/07/09/new-to-freelancing-read-this-post/ a while ago and the same thought came to mind. Another point to your suggestions is follow up. In the A+D profession this is a critical tool to maintain an existing customer base. If they never hear from you again how will they ever remember you and how do you feel about the client?

    We also use the follow up to build performance metrics (i.e. how well is the space utilization working, how has the change management process worked, is there an increase in employee satisfaction, etc, etc). It’s an awesome way to to keep them engaged.

    Over 80% of our business is from repeat clients. It’s an impressive metric and it does reduce the amount of business development efforts necessary to keep the core business operations fluid.

    Anyway, thank you for this piece. Enjoyed it immensely.

    • Jamie Lee

      Morning, Ralph!
      Thanks for the link to Jason’s post (I’ll check that out!) – and for the excellent addition about follow-up.

      I have a client that offers large scale corporate training. They routinely do immediate satisfaction surveys at the end of the engagement, but I recommended additional follow-ups for the same reasons you cite.

      A follow-up that takes place a month or two months or six months after the engagement will help give you a clear picture of the longevity (and long-term value) of your solution. It lets the client know you with them for the long haul. And, as you said, it keeps your company top-of-mind and provides an easy segue to conversations about additional engagements.

      Excellent strategy. Thanks for sharing! :)

  3. So many good points in your post, Jamie!

    You are right – treat our customers the way we want to be treated from a business we trust. Like you mentioned, most people just focus on creating new leads, but forget about managing their existing leads, keeping them happy and making more sales through them.

    It’s a big mistake. Of course, there are a few brands out there who realize the importance of customer satisfaction and focus on providing just that to their customers – new or old.

    Business is changing. So is marketing and so are the customers. I do hope that in the future, every business focuses on providing a great customer experience than their profits (then again, that might not happen because of human greediness).

    I am still working on my Kindle book (Well, I haven’t touched in some time, but I can say that work is going – especially in the experimentation side). I am planning on selling the Kindle book in Amazon (But, I am planning to give out some portion to my FB fans, a larger portion to active commentators and the whole book free to the most loyal commentators. As of now, I don’t maintain a list, because I simply couldn’t find a real purpose for my lists).

    I am also working on 2 different bonuses for the Kindle book (Which will be given for free to the customers, so even if my active commentators buys the product, they know that they are “really special”).

    Anyways, thank you for the awesome post, Jamie!

    Jeevan Jacob John

    • Jamie Lee

      Hello, Jeevan!
      Sorry it took me a while to approve your comment. Been crazy busy and then took the weekend OFF for a change! 😉

      I don’t think companies will ever put customer satisfaction ahead of profitability, BUT – I do hope that they will at least begin to see the correlation between happy customers and increased profits. There is a lot to be said for building your business by over-delivering to your existing customer base. You only have to look at Zappos or JetBlue to see examples of big brands that get it.

      Congrats on the Kindle books you’re working on. That sounds great! Keep at it, and thanks – as always – for visiting.

  4. Wow, not only a post filled with great advice, but for me, a timely one as well. After years of knowing the importance of maintaining meaningful relationships with existing customers, I finally started paying attention to them. Of course my revenue has increased because of it but more importantly, nurturing these relationships has proven to be fulfilling in ways I hadn’t imagined. Thanks, Jamie.

    • Jamie Lee

      Well, Marvin, hello! It’s been a LONG time! :)

      Love to hear more about the other ways that nurturing customer relationships has been fulfilling. More revenue is certainly a plus for the bottom line, but sometimes it’s those “other” benefits that make the work worth doing.

      Looks like you have assembled a great team and are doing great work. So nice to see!

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