Why you must love your existing customers.
Watching the news on a daily basis can be disconcerting to say the least. If the headlines are to be believed, we should dive under the duvet and hand over the keys to our business. But it's not all doom and gloom. Customers in the business to business sector are still buying. They may be more discerning, in need of more compelling reasons as to why they should buy from you, not a competitor; they may need to stretch their budgets and you may have to jump through hoops to get their business but, there's business to be had.
You need to be marketing your business with a vengeance ... starting with your existing customers.
Are you talking to them? When did you last communicate with your customers beyond servicing their needs? When did you last cross sell to your customers or up sell to them? Don't overlook the importance of reminding them that you are alive and kicking. Something as simple as a bimonthly targeted direct mailshot with your latest news, offers and top tips all bound up in an attractive and professionally designed newsletter with a follow up call to check all is well will generate more sales on a low budget.
Change your marketing messages. What is happening in their world that could impact on their ability to keep their business with you and buy more from you? Do you need to change your marketing messages to emphasise the value customers are gaining from using you? Do you need to illustrate more clearly how customers gain greater efficiencies/greater cost savings/more convenience etc? Stand in their shoes. Look at the landscape through their eyes and adjust your messages. Customers want to know that you understand them, that you feel their pain and that you are in their corner.
Can you offer more for the same? It's tempting to discount but it's better to maintain your prices and add in extras. What can you add to your core offering at a relatively low cost that will have a positive impact on customer retention and lead to a take-up of more services?
Don't assume all customers are raving fans. There may be reparations you need to make before you start actively marketing to your customer base. Customers will generally fall into one of three camps. The first one, ripe for defection is to be avoided at all costs. This is where customers are neutral about your offering possibly even dissatisfied. They won’t move without a prod but they are open to the overtures of a keen competitor. The second camp is happy customers. They are generally content with what you are offering and likely to stay with you provided you don't disappoint. The third camp is raving advocates. These are the customers that delight in telling anyone within earshot how wonderful you are. They recommend you in droves. Create a customer satisfaction survey. You must find out which of the three groups that customers fall into. The answers to your survey will achieve this. Crucial questions such as; "What can we do to improve our service to you?" And, "Have you ever been less than delighted with our service?" should flush out the unhappy customers and identify the raving fans. Act on the feedback with haste and let your customers know about the improvements and changes you have made as a consequence of their feedback.
Never take customers for granted. If you employ staff then conducting regular team meetings at which you consistently share tips on improving and enhancing the customer experience from acquisition to after sale shows that you take customer delight seriously. Ultimately a contented and well looked after customer is the best form of marketing for your business.
Next week: Why you must perform a marketing audit