When starting a business, the majority of your marketing efforts will be directed to getting customers, introducing your business and establishing your brand. As your business grows your marketing strategy moves from purely focusing on finding customers to keeping the ones you already have. Selling to your existing customers can me more cost effective than trying to reach new customers. Focusing on your current customer base is a valuable strategy whether you are introducing new products or services, or are just looking to increase sales for existing products lines.
Marketing Strategy for Customer Retention
When you focus your marketing efforts on your existing customers, it is important to obtain their feedback and input to not only access their satisfaction with your customer service, but to also make sure your marketing strategy is aligned with the needs and wants of your current customers. Here are some questions to consider when reviewing the “Four P’s” of your marketing strategy:
- Products/Services: Do your current products/services meet the needs of your customers? Are there opportunities to introduce new products or services? Are there new features and/or benefits that could be added or highlighted?
- Pricing: Are your prices too high or low? How do your prices compare to the competition? Can you offer new services or benefits that can justify a price increase if you are priced too low?
- Placement or Distribution: Are there ways that you can reach your customers better? Can you expand into new markets or new channels?
- Promotions: Are your current customers hearing about your promotional campaigns? If so, how/where did they hear about them? Can you find new creative ways to promote your business?
Creating Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is extremely important to help you grow your business. Establishing loyalty and a strong relationship with your existing customers can result in your customers being evangelists for your business – telling others about your great products or services. There are a number of ways to keep loyal customers:
- Provide excellent customer service. Your customers will appreciate friendly, reliable service before, during and after they purchase products or services from your business. If you operate a retail location, make sure you train your front-line staff on providing great service – they are often your customer’s first interaction with your business and know you what they say about first impressions. Providing great service is particularly important as customers have a variety to tools to rate the service that you provide (such as Trip Advisor, E-bay, Amazon, social media, etc.) and you want your message on these tools and comment boards to be positive.
- Quality. Make sure that the services and products are meeting the quality expectations of your customers. Competing on price alone may not be a sustainable strategy for your business. A better approach is to compete on quality or provide enhanced features or benefits
- Loyalty programs. Consider introducing loyalty programs to encourage repeat purchases. These can include discounts or free products.
- Prizes. Include giveaways and prizing in your promotional campaigns to create excitement and generate sales. These include refer-a-friend programs and time or event sensitive campaigns.
- Customer database. Keep track of your customers and their contact information to send out reminders, updates, thank-yous and information on upcoming promotions. This is a very effective and inexpensive way to market your business to your existing customers.
As your business grows you may want to consider using online channels to promote your business or sell your services/products. If you are already utilizing e-business tools, now might be the time to evaluate the success of these tools and consider expanding your online efforts to continue to engage your customers. Here are some questions to consider:
- Website: Do you have a web presence? How are your search rankings? Are you optimized for local search results?
- Social Media: Are you using social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, blogging, etc.) to connect to your customers? Are you linking your social media activities to your website? Are there other tools you could be using that would be effective for reaching your target customers
- Online store: Should you be selling your products/services online? What tools and resources can you use to facilitate online sales?
Successful companies continue to work on their marketing strategy to evaluate its effectiveness in reaching the target market and look for ways to improve delivery, messaging and to keep content engaging. For growing businesses, the strategy should focus on increasing the loyalty and ultimately the spending of their existing customers, as well as finding new ones.