Organizations will spend great amounts of money and time looking for new prospects, and at the same time blissfully (or stupidly) ignoring their existing customers and not realizing that many are moving on to other vendors without them really knowing. Finding new business is certainly important, but remember that your existing customers are your most valuable asset! The value of your business is not the equipment, the processes, etc. It’s the revenue that you are able to generate right now! and that’s your customers! They are also your future revenue.
If you think about your business, it is probably the top 10% of your customers that provide 90% of your profits! (and there is probably another 10% that provide 90% of your headaches…). Here are some key ideas and concepts to marketing and taking care of your top customers:
- They are your best source of referrals!58% of people will listen to what “a person like me” says about an organization, and 88% of consumers buy from companies that they trust, if a customer becomes a fan, and you treat them like a VIP, they can be your best salesperson, keep in mind that your top customers not only have value in what THEY buy, but they have value in the referrals that they send to you.
- Figure out who your top customers are. Answer the following questions to understand them better: (A) Who are they? (B) What products and services do they need? (this is where up-selling and cross-selling come in). (C) When will they need them? (D) How do they want to respond, buy or interact with us? (E) Why do they behave the way they do?
- Work to Maximize Satisfaction and Minimize Defections. Do you market to all of your customers the same? If you are a non-profit, are you sending the same donation letter to the top 10% of your donors? Ouch, think of the impact and even possible increase in donations if you were to send them and embroidered shirt, mug or personalized thank you for their support? Do you visit the top 10%? Call them to check on your service? Think about it.
- Invest in Customers based on their value to the organization. Your first goal should be to retain your most valuable customers. The second group to get added focus on are the most grow-able customers. The third group would be the marginal “business as usual” group. But the final group? The 10% that cause 90% of your headaches?…do you even make any money off of them. Do you really want to spend ANY money marketing to this group? Nope! I’ve even fired a few of them before. (If they are on your mailing list, take them off right now).
- Make it easy for them to do business with you. Especially your top customers. Our top customers get free online ordering websites (go to http://basicsite.redirectme.net to see a sample). My very top get personal visits and a couple have scheduled weekly visits to review the work we are doing for them, and that is where the online companies cannot compete!
- No Surprises. This is one of my top goals. I’m not talking about the good surprises when you stop in with donuts or a cheesecake. I mean not having their job ready, or not meeting their expectations. I want my best customers to have a “fire and forget” mentality when they send work to us. Once we have it, they can consider it done. When you let someone down you open the door to your competition. And if I’m your competition, know that I am patient and have waited years to get an opportunity to get a customer!
Marketing and paying attention to your customers is not just a good idea, it is a critical idea. With the constant bombarding of marketing messages that our customers receive, we cannot simply ignore them, or someone else will lead them away from us when we are not looking! If you are looking for more inspiration I can recommend a great book I’ve read called “Hug Your Customers” by Jack Mitchell.