Most businesses are like African baboons – these furry fellows race through the cornfields, picking corn and stuffing it under their arm. As fast as they stuff the corn under their arm, it falls out the back, but they keep on picking and stuffing! By the time they get to the edge of the cornfield, they are carrying one corncob and they've left a trail of corn on the ground. This is how many entrepreneurs handle customers. They're so busy getting new ones that they neglect and lose their existing customers out the back door. Attrition spirals out of control and yet they continue to spend more money on finding new customers.
We know it's far more affordable to resell existing customers than to get new ones. We know that it's better to retain our customers and to encourage referrals through added value service than to spend a lot of money finding new customers. So why don't we act accordingly? Why don't we spend 80% of our marketing budget on our EXISTING customers? Invest in your people and they will bring you a lot of new ones. Build strong relationships with the customers you have. That will increase loyalty, reduce attrition, increase transaction values and lengthen customer lifespan. Why not put a program together to REACTIVATE inactive customers? It's much easier than trying to buy new ones.
By redirecting our marketing dollars to our loyal clients and creating unprecedented added and unexpected value, we can engender massive reciprocity in the form of referrals and goodwill. But only strategists will understand this. Tacticians, those “instant gratification” types, will never understand this. A happy customer is good – an elated customer is better. A satisfied customer might stay with you, but an inspired and enthusiastic customer will bring her friends, family and associates. A surprise party, an unexpected gift, a personal phone call and a complimentary dinner can buy a lot more new customers than advertising.
Use Joint Ventures to add value at no cost to you. Partner with other businesses to increase the value to offer and to differentiate yourself from the competition. Put yourself in your clients' shoes and take the time to find ways to make their lives easier and more comfortable. Look after what you have and they will look after you.
Act in your customer's best interest. Reward referrals generously. Don't skimp on packaging. Create referral systems that make the customer happy. Protect your customers; they're hard enough to get and they can be worth their weight in gold.
Teach your team to listen and to go the extra mile. When I go into Safeway and ask where the bathroom is, the employee will walk me to the bathroom. When I go to the competition, the employee points in the direction on the bathroom. Big difference. A nice bag with a pretty bow and a big smile, a follow-up telephone call and even a thank you note can generate a massive return on investment. Get creative and set the eample.
About Robin J. Elliott
For more than 18 years, Robin has worked with thousands of businesses in over 49 industries across the United States, Canada, and Africa. He specializes in helping small business entrepreneurs build wealth and gain access to new markets and profit centers through joint ventures.
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