You’re Marketing in the wrong place

photo by David Goehring via Flickr

photo by David Goehring via Flickr

Business owners are drawn to marketing ideas like a moth to a flame. It feels like the one piece they need that will finally complete the puzzle of their business.

Great marketing is the holy grail to hungry, struggling businesses.  Most business owners have said something along the lines of: “If I just had some great marketing that would drive a ton of new customers my way, then I’d be set!”

It’s the dream of easy living, you turn on the switch for the marketing machine and new revenue just starts flowing in and everything is golden.

But if you’re an existing business that already has customers…and your focus is strictly on getting new customers, then you’re marketing in the wrong place. Your first priority should be to market to your existing customers.

Why would that possibly make any sense?  Great question…I’m glad you asked.  Consider these statistics from Scott McKain’s book “What Customers Really Want

  • A Loyal customer is worth 10 times more than a new customer
  • 91% of dissatisfied customers will never purchase anything from your company again
  • Most companies spend 6 times as much money trying to attract new customers as they do trying to keep existing customers happy

And check out some of these additional statistics from some other noteworthy sources:

  • Increasing customer retention from 10% to 15% can double revenue (Harvard Business Revenue)
  • A change in customer retention of just 5% can produce a change of 125% in profit – Frederick Reichheld author of ‘The Loyalty Effect

Bottom line – if you’ve been in business for any length of time, the real gold mine is your existing client base. Unless you have a strictly transactional kind of business, they’re more likely to buy from you again (if they had a good experience) and they are the source of positive word of mouth (free and effective marketing).

Quick Quiz Question

When was the last time you thought about ways that you could ‘wow’ your existing customers and show them the appreciation they deserve?

If it’s been more than a few months…or if your answer was ‘Never’…then it’s probably time to do just that.

Try these 10 steps as a way to build consistent, meaningful customer service:

  1. Remember a customer is for life: You’re not processing a transaction, you’re starting a new relationship and you and your staff need to treat it that way.
  2. Little things make a big difference:  Details matter and people will notice if you smile, if you’re dressed professionally, if your business is clean, if your emails have typos. Get the little things right.
  3. First impressions count: Along the lines of getting the little things right, whatever a new customer sees first is going to set the tone, so find a way to make a great first impression.
  4. Make it a system: What ever you end up doing, it needs to be repeatable and you need to be able to hire in normal people to make it work.  Consistency is key.
  5. Train every team member: Having a system won’t help if you don’t train your team and continually work with them to improve. This should be an ongoing, evergreen effort.
  6. Hold regular staff meetings and review: Only the people talking to customers on a regular basis will be able to tell you what’s going on. Meet with the team to get regular feedback and ideas.
  7. Genuinely thank customers and invite them back:  If you really value someone, you thank them for what they did and you encourage them to come back…and you mean it!  The whole team needs to feel this way.
  8. Do the unexpected extra!: Find a way to surprise customers with great service. Go the extra mile where it will be appreciated.  It shouldn’t be a big thing (in terms of expensive) but meaningful.
  9. Deliver a Critical Non-Essential every time: Find something that your best clients value that you can give away for free. The car service that washes the car with an oil change, the restaurant that includes a surprise sample appetizer or dessert with the meal…be creative.
  10. Follow up: Make sure you have a consistent way to follow up with your customers – and the focus isn’t on selling more, the focus is on adding value (which may lead them to buy more).

Having great customer service isn’t easy and it will cost you time and money, but that’s an investment that will pay off quickly and as noted by the statistics above, have a much bigger pay off than marketing for new clients.

Are you doing most of the things on the list above?  Some of them?  What would it take to start doing more?

We’d love to hear your thoughts – share them below.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach