December is a month in which many organizations make plans for the coming year. Now is a great time for you to look at your marketing systems for attracting and retaining customers.
Although front end systems such as advertising, public relations, press releases, direct mail, sales letters and promotional items are important, equally as important as what you and your staff do after you gain new customers. It never ceases to amaze me how companies will invest money in campaigns to gain new customers yet have no system to build and maintain those relationships they were so eager to attract in the first place. Having a system in place to keep your name in front of existing and potential clients is a very important part of a great marketing campaign. Additionally, having programs in place that make it easy for people to do business with you is essential to the health of your bottom line.
Any company that depends on repeat business absolutely must have a good customer retention system in place in order to thrive in today’s competitive environment. Time and again I have seen this as the primary area of businesses where companies don’t succeed at the level they are capable of – especially in small businesses. The thinking with many people is, “If they want my services, they know where to find me.” While a potential customer is looking for you, your competition’s marketing systems may find them first!
As an example, a pet store offering grooming services could increase revenues by having a reminder system in place to notify the customer when their dog is due for grooming or to let them know when a new product arrives. They may also consider using a punch card that gives the customer a free grooming service after a predetermined amount of visits have been made. Many pet owners view their animals as family members and will be more likely to do business with you when they believe you care about their pets just as much as they do.
What would your profit margin be if you were able to turn the occasional customer into a frequent customer? Customers who regularly visit your business would also be more likely to refer you to their friends and associates. Remember that frequency is determined by your particular industry or service. A grocery store may consider twice-weekly visits a good frequency, whereas a dry cleaner may only be monthly.
Changing customers from being a one or two item purchaser to purchasing several products can increase your bottom line tremendously. With a bit of vision and creativity, one basic service can open several opportunities. Most businesses can take their basic product or service and expand into other offerings. What are your current offerings? Are there other products and services you could develop that are consistent with your market and your company vision?
This is where you can create an incredible backend list of possibilities. Once you think about other offerings, what are some new avenues you could open? Is it possible to partner with other companies where you could offer each other’s products and services?
Here are some possibilities:
Car dealerships offering a year’s worth of car washes or oil changes at a discount
Hair salons who sell facials or nail services
Pet shops selling grooming services
Restaurants who provide recipe books
Chiropractors and Massage Therapists who promote their services
As you plan for the coming year, include methods for keeping in touch, developing a list of companies you can partner with and increasing strategies for gaining and maintaining top-of-the-mind awareness for your customers. Marketing is about timing. Just because you contact a client today does not mean they are in the market to buy today. However, if you keep in regular contact with them, when they are ready to purchase, there is a good chance you will be the one they call.
Today’s customers are busy. New choices are thrown at them every day. Keep your name on the top of their list by consistently reminding them of their great experiences with your company. Great marketing systems will help you gain and retain customers.