Business Owners Toolbox Blog Discussions and articles to help the small business owner solve the challenges they face as they grow their business.

December 12, 2011

The Best Marketing is Keeping Your Current Customers

Filed under: Marketing — Tags: , , — Mike Van Horn @ 3:33 pm

“Your monthly invoices are so high, I think we need to switch to somebody else.” “We liked our old rep. We don’t like this new girl.” “Maybe we’ll bring this in-house. I think my brother-in-law could do this for us.”

Bookkeepers, graphic designers, marketing advisers, etc., all hear this from clients sometimes. And you know they’ll go to so-and-so, who won’t give nearly as good customer service.

Customers come to take you for granted. You do your job so well that you become invisible to them. They lose sight of the value you provide. What to do?

You need to find a way to remind your clients of the value you provide. Re-sell your services without sounding salesy. What sets you apart from the others in the market? What are the special things you’ve done for them over the last month or so? Perhaps note this in your invoice to them.

When’s the last time you talked with them—face to face or by phone—about what other things they may need to have done, things you see that would help them, how they think your service might be improved? What else could you do for them that would be seen as special?

We often come to take our best clients for granted, also. Then we’re shocked when one leaves because they don’t feel their needs are being attended to.

As owner, this customer contact is a key part of your job. But your customer contact people must also do this. You need to motivate and train your people to do this, which they may neglect. I recommend devoting a staff meeting to this issue. Get a discussion going by asking questions like these:

“How can we reinforce our message and our value to our customers?”

“How are we taking clients for granted?”

“What little things would mean a lot to clients? Let’s share some examples of what you’ve done.”

“What do they ask for? How do you respond? Are there things we say ‘no’ to that we should be doing?”

Just having this discussion will energize your committed people. (And why would you keep those who aren’t committed and energized?) They know what you provide is valuable. They know that keeping customers happy keeps your business healthy, and their jobs secure and well-paid.

Reinforce this during subsequent staff meetings. Ask your people to talk about special things they’ve done for customers. One of my clients tracked these reports on a wall chart using “customer happy faces.”

Don’t take this all on yourself (unless you’re a one-person business). It’s essential to involve all your people in demonstrating, by word and deed, your value to customers.

And ask these happy, well-treated customers for referrals to others like themselves.

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