Over the years one thing I've seen over and over again from small business owners is a failure to manage their customers properly from a marketing perspective.
I look at customers as an investment, accruing a lifelong balance in the account of relationship-building. Don't create a sale; create a relationship.
Customers have given you their ultimate vote of confidence: their money! Now give them a quality product, excellent service and the opportunity to buy from you again and again.
As I said earlier, the first of the three groups you should promote to is your list of existing customers. They are the most likely people to purchase your products and/or services because they have paid for them before. It's not just good for them; it's good for you.
It costs far less money to keep a customer than it does to go out and get a new one. Log that one away. It's like marketing gold. There are three key rules to follow when marketing to existing customers in your company database:
Customers have given you their ultimate vote of confidence: their money!
Now give them a quality product!
Rule #1: Collect all of their information
It sounds like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised by how many companies ignore information from their customers. The more information you have about your customers, the more likely you will be able to get in touch with them next time you run a special or want to remind them it's time to order more products or services.
Make sure you don't neglect to ask for your customers' email addresses. Everybody has one and most will give it up pretty easily as long as you're straight with them. This makes it easy to contact to them quickly and efficiently - in a manner they're used to seeing and from a name they trust (yours).
Rule #2: Don't treat your customers like prospects
While form letters and generic emails may be easier for you, don't make the costly mistake of treating your customers like prospects. It is unflattering and bad form on your part. They've spent money with you, treat them appropriately.
To avoid this debacle, make sure you differentiate in your database between people who have placed an order in the past and people who have not. Customers want to feel like you are paying attention to them and when they have placed a few orders with you and are still getting your "10% Off for First Time Buyers" postcards, they tend to feel unappreciated. Remember, if someone doesn't qualify for an offer you are sending out, don't send it to them.
Rule #3: Don't let your promotional designs get stagnant
When mailing to customers or prospects you have already spoken to, you need to mix things up a bit. Sending the same designs over and over to customers is fine for a while but soon it will cause them to lose interest.
Your mailings should be attention-grabbing and informative, not stale and boring. If you recently started offering a new service, a postcard letting your database know about it would be a smart move. The main point is to keep your company in the front of their mind and to keep them reading your postcards.
If you send the same cards to your customer database and your customers lose interest: you are just wasting your money on postage - your postcards won't get the attention that you want.
Information Sharing = Profit Sharing
Do your customers know that you're open 24 hours? Are they aware in addition to selling full lawn care service you can also provide them with the products to do it themselves? Do they know you've opened a second branch closer to them? If so, great. If not, WHY not?
One of your main goals should be to educate your customers about how your product or service works.
As a result, they will get more use out of your entire line of products and services. Many times this seemingly complicated process can be achieved as simply as sending out mailings to make your customers aware of ALL you can do for them.
Take, for example, a Minnesota-based home cleaning company called White Glove Cleaning. Not only do they use direct mail postcards to acquire new business, they know how to use them to effectively market to their current customer database as well.
To fully understand how, you will need a little background information. White Glove offers a wide range of cleaning services to homeowners, and in order to maximize the return from their mailings of 5,000 postcards, they send 4,000 to their current customer database and send the other thousand to prospects in the area.
At the beginning of every season, they send out a card advertising their specific services that apply to that season. For example:
- Winter: Dirty carpets promote germs that cause cold and flu symptoms
- Autumn: Get carpets cleaned after a busy summer of visitors and dirty kids running through the house
- Spring: Clean vents, tile and carpets to reduce allergies
This enables them to serve their customers at the highest level, while also strengthening customer loyalty. Brand loyalty is not something your customers owe to you, but something you must earn over time by familiarizing and (re-familiarizing) your customers with your products and services over and over again.
Sometimes you lose customers because they either forgot who they dealt with last time or because they received some kind of promo from one of your competitors and decided to check it out. It's not your fault; it's simply human nature. Customers want to do what makes their life easier, not yours. If the customer is constantly updated about what is available from YOUR company, they won't spend their valuable time doing research and will be less likely to "shop around." This will help to control the normal attrition of your database to your competitors.
White Glove's design for their promotional pieces all have their logo prominently displayed on the front and back - to give each piece the same general feel. Also, picking a company color or group of colors and sticking with it will help to increase recognition and readership of your promo. Simply put, your customers will get to a point where they will read whatever you send them. They need to know it is from your company before they read it. If it doesn't look like what they are used to getting from you, it may go in the trash without a second look.
Being great at what you do is not always enough to keep your hard-earned customers. With all the competition out there today, you need to be constantly reminding your customers you are the best at what you do.
Direct mail postcards are the best way to give them that reminder. Always remember to keep mailings that you send to your database informative, attractive and most of all, current.