Marketing: It's All About Communication

Most businesses use marketing to attract new customers. However, it's also a great way to engage with you existing customers. It helps build relationships and reminds them who you are and what you do.

Before you read any more, go to your customer database, filing cabinet or diary and just spend a few minutes looking at all the names of your customers. Think about all the customers you've not actually done business with in the last three months or so. Think about all the customers you used to do business with who may now be using your competitors.

You might start wondering what happened to those customers and where they went. Why haven't you heard from them? Where did they go? And why? Business owners often make the costly mistake of selling to a customer once and then assuming they'll remain as a customer without spending time on nurturing a relationship.

So, assuming you've overcome the biggest obstacle of getting them to use you in the first place, how do you go about ensuring they continue to do business with you? Well, the easiest way to engage with your customers is to communicate with them. You need to let customers know you appreciate their business and want them to buy from you again and you need to develop a marketing plan to target your existing customers. Here are our tips on how to go about it.

You've Got Mail

Everyone has customers they don't deal with very often. These are the ones the competition will find the easiest to poach, because businesses don't spend enough time building relationships with them. A monthly or even quarterly mailing helps remind your customers that your there; email versions tend to work best and there are lots of free packages out there to help you get your message into print. Don't make it "salesy"; no-one will want to read about that. Instead offer advice or share some news; in other words, fill it with interesting content. Think about it, no-one would read a magazine full of adverts; they read them for the content.

You've Got More Mail!

Never underestimate the power of something received via "snail mail". It's always uplifting to receive something in the post that isn't a bill, so consider sending cards or postcards to thank your customers for placing an order, paying their invoice on time or just generally enquiring if there's anything you can do for them. It's only a small thing, but as so much business is done on a "right time, right place" basis, you need to make sure that if your customer needs the service you provide, you are the first business they think of. Make sure anything you send is handwritten; the personal touch makes all the difference.

Just Say Hello

Don't be afraid to talk to your customers, if you build a good relationship with them they will become customers of yours for a long time to come.

Think about it. If you didn't speak to your friends for months on end, they wouldn't be your friends very long, would they? Your customers are no different, so it's a good idea to go back and contact those customers you have sold to before and re-acquaint yourself with them. Ask them how they have been doing and how they feel about your product. You might be surprised that not only will you probably get some business, but you might also be able to ask them for a recommendation. There are lots of ways of doing this; you can give them a quick call, you can mention them on Twitter, or include them in a discussion on LinkedIn. It doesn't have to be much, but a little goes a long way, so it's an easy way to keep in touch. Plus, a mention on Social Media raises their profile as well as yours so everyone wins.

Blow their Trumpet

If you regularly speak at networking events or seminars, don't be afraid to draw attention to a customer in the room by including them as a reference point or illustration in your presentation. For example, if you're talking about the importance of LinkedIn and having a great profile shot and one of your clients is a photographer, point them out and let everyone in the room know that are great at what they do. Not only might this help grow their business, but they'll remember your input and hopefully mention what you do to people they meet, thus helping to grow your contact base.

Most businesses have a marketing strategy. Unfortunately, this is often focused on attracting new customers and businesses totally overlook the clients they already have. Shouldn't you develop a marketing strategy for them too? When you think about it, this has to be a better plan, because you're dealing with individuals who already understand what your business is all about.

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